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Apple releases official WWDC app

Apple has released an official iOS app for its 2011 Worldwide Developer Conference being held in San Francisco next week. The WWDC app provides a mobile reference guide allowing attendees to access conference information from their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. A session and lab schedule allows users to view all events, including lunchtime and evening events and search by technology, platform, session or lab. Users can also reserve time at selected labs from directly within the app, create a personalized WWDC schedule of favorite sessions and events and view detailed floor maps of Moscone West to find their way around. A conference news and photos section provides up-to-date announcements during the week and images from the sessions, labs and special events. The WWDC app is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

GarageBand adds AirPlay, Bluetooth audio support

Apple has released an update to GarageBand for the iPad adding audio out support and the ability to import audio files. GarageBand 1.0.1 now supports audio output via AirPlay, Bluetooth A2DP and HDMI using the Apple Digital AV Adapter and users can also now import AIFF, WAV and CAF audio files and Apple Loops directly into the app. Additional improvements include the ability to copy and paste audio clips into GarageBand from other supported apps on the iPad and several stability and performance fixes, including addressing an issue with GarageBand freezing when using Smart Instruments. GarageBand 1.0.1 requires an iPad running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

Apple attempts to end third-party iPad, iPhone giveaways?

Apple is using a little-known guideline document in an attempt to curb third-party iPad and iPhone giveaways, according to a new report. Fortune claims that Apple has only recently begun to reach out to companies in an attempt to enforce its Guidelines for Third Party Promotions, a document that has been around since at least last January. The rules for third-party promotions forbid the use of the iPad, iPhone, or iPhone Gift Card in a promotion, specify that the iPod touch can only be used in “special circumstances and requires a minimum purchase of 250 units,” forbid the use of the word “free” as a modifier for an Apple product name, and the use of Myriad Set font, and require that the promotion notes that “Apple is not a participant in or sponsor of this promotion.”

iMovie update improves HDMI support

Apple has released a minor update to its iMovie app for iOS improving compatibility with the Apple Digital AV Adapter. iMovie 1.2.1 will now output audio to an HDTV when using the Digital AV Adapter. Videos from Marquee will also now play in full screen when output from the device via the Digital AV Adapter’s HDMI connection. Additional improvements and bug fixes include resolving issues with missing media in projects, grouping clips more accurately by date in the video browser, fixing issues with background music fading and a number of other small performance and reliability improvements. iMovie requires an iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad 2 running iOS 4.2.6 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

Lodsys replies to Apple, sues app developers

Following legal threats made to third-party iOS application developers and a strongly worded response from Apple, Lodsys has filed suit against seven developers while denying Apple’s claims. FOSS Patents has identified the seven developers named in the suit as Combay, Iconfactory, Illusion Labs, Machael G. Karr, Quickoffice, Richard Shinderman, and Wulven Games. At issue in the case is a Lodsys patent entitled “Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network”, which it claims covers in-app purchase and upgrade button technology.

In a series of posts on its company blog, Lodsys claims that it “chose to move its litigation timing to an earlier date than originally planned”—it had promised to give app developers 21 days to respond—“in response to Apple’s threat, in order to preserve its legal options.” In discussing Apple’s response, in which the company claimed that its licenses gave third-party developers “undisputable” freedom to use Lodsys’ patents, Lodsys claims that it has “no discernable basis in law or fact.” The company goes on to state that it has sent a letter to Apple explaining its legal position on the license interpretation issue. Finally, Lodsys claims that it will pay $1,000 to each developer or entity to which it sends an infringement notice should Apple’s existing license rights turn out to cover their work. [via Mac Rumors]

iCloud service to include films, TV shows?

Apple may have plans to include the online storage and streaming of both films and TV shows in its iCloud offering, according to a new report. Citing two sources close to the negotiations, Cnet reports that Apple has increased its efforts to convince major Hollywood film studios to issue licenses that would enable such a service; the report notes that Apple began discussing such a service with the studios over a year ago. The report also claims that part of the challenge in signing all six major studios is the so-called HBO blackout, part of the contract between the cable network and three of the six studios—Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and NBC Universal—that prohibits other electronic distribution outlets from selling the title while it’s airing on HBO. Whether or not a deal concerning the HBO contract is ready in time, the report states that Apple could still launch such a service with the support of the other three major studios—Disney, Paramount, and Sony—when it officially unveils its iCloud service June 6.

Apple updates iWork apps with iPhone, iPod touch support

Apple has updated iWork for iOS adding support for the iPhone and iPod touch to the existing suite of iPad apps and adding the ability to organize documents into folders. Pages, Numbers and Keynote are now universal apps that can be used on the iPad as well as the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. The iPhone and iPod touch versions provide the same features found on the iPad scaled and optimized for the smaller screen. Users can import and export documents from iWork for Mac and Microsoft Office and print documents via AirPrint. A new Smart Zoom feature has been added to Pages and Numbers to assist with working on the smaller iPhone and iPod touch screens by automatically zooming in to follow the cursor when editing text or cells and zooming back to a larger page or table view when done.

The latest versions also introduce an improved document management interface that allows users to organize files, and group them in folders using a gesture-based interface. Keynote 1.4 further adds support for the separate Keynote Remote iOS app, allowing users to remotely control a Keynote for iOS presentation from an iPhone or iPod touch. Pages 1.4 also adds the ability to change font style and size directly from the ruler when editing text. Pages, Numbers and Keynote 1.4 each require iOS 4.2.8 or later and are available from the App Store separately for $10 each; all three apps are free updates for users of the corresponding previous version. Keynote Remote for the iPhone and iPod touch is available separately for $1 and requires iOS 4.2.1 or later.

Apple confirms Jobs-led iCloud intro for WWDC

Apple has announced that its will unveil iCloud, its “upcoming cloud services offering,” during its traditional keynote address to open its Worldwide Developers Conference. According to the release, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executives will make appearances during the keynote, which will feature the unveiling of iCloud, as well as Mac OS X Lion—the eighth major release of Mac OS X—and iOS 5, the latest version of the software that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference will begin with the keynote address, to be held on Monday, June 6, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Apple to include iPad in Back-to-school deal?

Apple may be considering offering a discount on an iPad 2 as an option in its yearly Back-to-School promotion, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous Apple source, Boy Genius Report claims that Apple’s now traditional promotion will be announced at WWDC next month. The promotion is said to include a free iPod touch or $229 towards the purchase of any other iPod with the purchase of a new Mac, but may also give customers the option of taking a $200 discount on a new iPad 2 unit instead. The report itself seems less than fully confident about the idea, however, and such a move would be highly unusual, as the promo is normally meant to help Apple clear out inventory of iPod units prior to their traditional September refresh, instead of serving as a way to boost sales of recently updated products such as the iPad 2.

Report offers details on Apple’s cloud music service

A new report has emerged offering details on Apple’s cloud music offering. Citing people briefed on the talks between Apple and the major music labels, Bloomberg reports that Apple will be able to scan customers’ digital music libraries in iTunes and quickly mirror their collections on its own servers, replacing low-quality songs with higher quality versions, after which users will be able to stream their songs and albums directly to their devices. According to the report, users will be able to store their entire music collections in the cloud—including songs that may have been obtained illegally, giving the music labels a way to earn money on pirated music through whatever fee Apple plans to charge. The report claims that the labels are negotiating aggressively to ensure they make a profit from the shift to the cloud, as it may be the last opportunity to stem piracy and dropping sales. Apple has already signed deals with three of the four major labels for the service, and is said to be close to reaching a deal with the final holdout, Universal Music. Apple could announce its cloud music service as early as its Worldwide Developers Conference, which begins with a keynote address on June 6.

Apple sued over videophone patents

Apple, along with AT&T and US Cellular, has been hit with a patent infringement lawsuit by Visual Interactive Phone Concepts (VIPC). In its case against Apple, VIPC is asserting two patents, both of which are entitled “videophone interactive mailbox facility system and method of processing information,” according to a FOSS Patents report. The complaint states that Apple infringes on the patents due to its sales of “mobile communication devices that are videophones,” and also names the App Store—“an application service for users to view, download and use applications on their videophones”—the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore as infringing entities, because they include “a central data center that facilitates the order and delivery of [apps, entertainment content, books, PDF documents, etc.].” Apple is accused of “intentional and willful infringement,” which, as the report notes, would result in treble damages should the court agree.

Apple asked to require app privacy policies

Senator Al Franken has released a letter written to Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Larry Page, in which he asks the companies to create privacy policies for all apps available on their respective mobile platforms. Franken, who recently headed a meeting of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law which representatives from both Apple and Google attended, asked the two companies “to require clear and understandable privacy policies for all of their apps.” As published by AppleInsider, the letter also states that “Apple and Google have each said time and again that they are committed to protecting users’ privacy. This is an easy opportunity for your companies to put that commitment into action.”

Franken continued, “Although I believe there is a greater need for transparency and disclosure for the collection and sharing of all personal information, at a minimum, I ask that you require all location-aware applications in your app stores to provide privacy policies that clearly specify what kind of information is being gathered from users, how that information is used, and how it is shared with third parties. These apps constitute only a subset of all of the apps available on your stores.” Privacy on mobile devices, and on Apple’s in particular, became a hot topic in recent weeks following a report claiming that iOS 4 devices were regularly recording their positions to hidden files, leading to charges of secret location tracking against Apple, and prompting the company to post a Q&A document discussing the collection of location data on iOS devices.

Apple nearing cloud deals with music publishers

Apple is closing in on deals which would give it the music publishing rights necessary to launch its anticipated cloud music service, according to a new report. Citing two sources with knowledge of the talks, Cnet reports that negotiations between Apple and music publishers began in earnest recently, but that the amount of money separating the two sides is relatively small. Despite the seemingly small monetary gap between the two, the report notes that cloud services are new, and thus there is no precedent for how to license them. On the label side, Apple has reportedly signed license agreements with EMI Music, Warner Music, and Sony Music; a deal with Universal Music, the final holdout of the largest four labels, could come as soon as this week, according to the report.

Apple to Lodsys: Developers are protected by our licenses

Apple has sent a letter to Lodsys, in which it states that iOS application developers are protected from any infringement claims thanks to Apple’s patent licenses. “Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patent and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license. There is no basis for Lodsys’ infringement allegations against Apple’s App Makers,” wrote Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell in a letter obtained by iLounge. Lodsys recently sent claims of patent infringement over the use of in-app purchasing within iOS applications to a variety of small iOS developers, threatening legal action within three weeks should the developers fail to license the company’s patents.

“[T]he technology that is targeted in your notice letters is technology that Apple is expressly licensed under the Lodsys patents to offer to Apple’s App Makers,” Sewell concludes. “These licensed products and services enable Apple’s App Makers to communicate with end users through the use of Apple’s own licensed hardware, software, APIs, memory, servers, and interfaces, including Apple’s App Store. Because Apple is licensed under Lodsys’ patents to offer such technology to its App Makers, the App Makers are entitled to use this technology free from any infringement claims by Lodsys.” The full text of Sewell’s letter is available below.

Apple updates retail stores with iPads, new app features

Apple over the weekend launched a significant revamp of its retail stores, replacing its paper-based information graphics with iPads. As noted by ifoAppleStore, there is now one iPad next to each major product in the stores, including Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, and the iPod touch, while smaller iPod models are mounted in groups with a single iPad. The iPads, which are mounted semi-permanently in clear acrylic, are running interactive software that can take customers through each product’s main features, and features a Specialist button that allows customers to request assistance, with an indication of where the customer is the queue of other people waiting.

In addition to the changes made at the retail stores, Apple also released version 1.3 of its Apple Store app for iOS. The update offers the ability to custom-configure a new Mac, and new in-store features that allow customers to request assistance from a Specialist, check on Genius Bar wait times and make appointments, and see when the next workshop is scheduled. The Apple Store app for iOS is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Apple signs Sony to cloud music deal

Apple has now reached a cloud-based music licensing agreement with Sony Music Group, giving it deals with three of the four largest labels, according to a Bloomberg report. Citing people with knowledge of the deals, the report reiterates that the service will allow users to store content on Apple’s servers and access it via the Internet rather than storing it locally on a device. An Apple patent application discovered yesterday shows one implementation of how such a service could work. The report goes on to state that Apple is close to a deal with Universal Music Group, and that separate agreements with music publishers would also be necessary, as they control different rights than the labels.

Apple patents time-, space-saving streaming media buffer

A newly published Apple patent application suggests that the company may be planning to use small, locally-stored clips of media items stored in the cloud as an on-device buffer. Such a setup would allow for reduced media footprints on devices such as the iPod and iPhone, as only a short portion of each song or video—think an iTunes preview clip—would be stored locally, in order to give the device an opportunity to grab the rest of the item while reducing the possibility of playback pauses as media is retrieved from a server.

Entitled “Local Storage of a Portion of Streamed Media Items,” the patent describes “locally storing one or more clips corresponding to a media item such that the clips can be immediately played back in response to a user request to play back the media item. While the clips are played back, the electronic device can retrieve the remaining segments of the media item from the user’s media library as a media stream over a communications network. Once the playback of the clip is complete, the electronic device can seamlessly switch playback to the media stream received from the user’s library.” Notably, one of the images included with the patent shows an iTunes synchronization settings screen, in which an iPhone is set to “Sync partial music,” with a “Minimum Connection Speed” of 3G. As with all Apple patents, this application does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via AppleInsider]

Apple signs cloud deal with EMI, final two deals near

Apple has signed a cloud-based music licensing agreement with EMI music and is close to securing deals with the remaining “big four” labels, according to a new report. Citing multiple music industry sources, Cnet reports that EMI, along with Warner Music Group, have signed agreements with Apple, while similar deals with Sony Music Group and Universal Music Group are nearing completion. The report states that negotiations with the latter two labels could be wrapped up as early as next week, giving Apple contracts with all four of the top labels heading into WWDC, where many expect the company to announce its cloud-based offering. Apple’s approach differs from that of rivals Amazon and Google, both of which have launched cloud-based music services without the support of the labels; the report claims that the labels’ agreements with Apple may allow it to offer features that Amazon and Google lack.

Apple pushing for smaller SIM standard

Apple has proposed a new SIM card standard smaller than the micro SIMs found in the iPhone 4 and iPad, according to Reuters. “We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to (European telecoms standards body) ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor—smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad,” Anne Bouverot, Orange’s head of mobile services, told the news agency. “They have done that through the standardisation route, through ETSI, with the sponsorship of some major mobile operators, Orange being one of them.” Bouverot added that the standardization process would take time and that the first devices to use the new standard could emerge next year.

Apple job posting points to Sprint iPhone?

A new Apple job posting suggests that the company may be planning to offer a version of the iPhone on Sprint. Stop it, AT&T reports on a new job posting for a Carrier Engineer based in Kansas City, MO, who would be part of a team “that supports taking products through technical approval at the carriers.” As noted in the report, Sprint’s headquarters in in Overland Park, KS, a suburb of Kansas City. Interestingly, the posting in question has since been changed to list Cupertino as the job location; it is possible, although unlikely, that Kansas City was listed by mistake. [via Mac Rumors]

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