Apple’s decision to relax its restrictions on tools developers are able to use to create iOS applications has led the European Competition Commission to drop its antitrust investigation into the company. “Apple’s response to our preliminary investigations shows that the Commission can use the competition rules to achieve swift results on the market with clear benefits for consumers, without the need to open formal proceedings,” Commission VP Joaquín Almunia said in a statement. The Commission this spring launched two parallel investigations into Apple’s iPhone business: one concerning its app and app development restrictions, and one concerning its “country of purchase” rule, whereby repairs service was only available in the country where the iPhone was purchased. Apple has since changed the latter policy and has told Authorized Service Providers to offer cross-border support in regions where Apple itself does not offer repair service.
- September 23, 2010
A newly-published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on ways of reducing the internal size of the headphone jacks featured on its portable devices. Entitled “Audio Jack with Pogo Pins for Conductive Contacts,” the patent describes an audio headphone jack that employs retractable Pogo pins to conserve space. AppleInsider reports that the pins, which are a registered trademark of Everett Charles Technologies and were named after the pogo stick, would become depressed upon insertion of an audio plug, meeting the contacts on the plug. This would replace the traditional, larger “cantilever beam” design; it is unknown whether Apple has used this or a similar audio jack in any shipping products.
Apple has released updates to its iWork suite of productivity applications for the iPad. Pages, Numbers and Keynote have each been updated to version 1.2 adding several new features and improvements over the previous versions. All three applications can now copy documents to and from MobileMe iDisk or other WebDAV services as well as adding the ability to group and ungroup objects. Numbers and Keynote have also added support for exporting documents to the respective Microsoft Office Excel and Powerpoint formats. The updates also add improvements across the board in font matching for iWork ‘09 and Microsoft Office documents, handling of tables with image background fills in cells and customized borders, text options for tables and reliability and performance improvements when sharing documents with iWork.com and importing Microsoft Office documents.
Pages 1.2 also adds an option to display the word count for documents, the ability to open TXT files from the iPad Mail app and import and export features for footnotes, endnotes, sections and tables of contents. Numbers 1.2 adds the ability to open CSV files from the iPad Mail app. Keynote 1.2 adds support for audio in builds on imported Keynote ‘09 presentations, animated build support for grouped objects, and several new build and transition animations such as Lens Flare, Spin, Wipe, Revolving Door and Swoosh. Pages 1.2, Numbers 1.2, and Keynote 1.2 are available from the App Store separately for $10 each, and are free updates for users of the corresponding previous version.
Apple has been sued by a New Jersey-based company over its iTunes video download offerings. The suit, filed by Multi-Format, Inc. in the Northern District of Illinois East District Court, claims that Apple’s products infringe on the company’s 2003 patent entitled “Multi-format audio/video production system.” Patently Apple reports that the suit names the iPhone, iPad, iPod classic, iPod nano, iPod touch, Apple TV, and iTunes as infringing; the patent itself describes the delivery, conversion, and playback of digital video. Multi-Format is seeking damages and interest from the date the infringement began.
Apple has filed a lawsuit against Sanho Corporation, maker of the HyperMac line of external battery accessories, alleging patent violations related to Apple’s proprietary MagSafe and 30-pin Dock Connector cables. AppleInsider reports that the suit, filed earlier this month, names the HyperMac Nano, HyperMac Micro, and HyperMac Mini products for the iPod and iPhone. “Defendants manufacture, distribute, and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s proprietary MagSafe connectors used to connect power adapters and other products to Apple portable computers, such as the MacBook,” the suit reads. “Defendants also manufacture, distribute and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s 30-pin connectors and receptacles , used to connect cables to Apple iPod, iPhone and/or iPad products.” The suit seeks “an award of its actual damages, disgorgement of Defendants’ profits from the sale of infringing devices and injunctive relief.”
Apple is currently developing a digital newsstand for the iPad that would offer digital magazines and newspapers, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that the newsstand would be similar to the iBookstore, and would be separate from the App Store. The report says that the effort is aimed at helping publishers sell subscriptions, as opposed to single issues, and may also draw new customers to the iPad. Talks between Apple and publishers including Time Warner, Conde Nast, Hearst Corp., and News Corp. are said to be ongoing, with control over subscriber data, revenue splits, and pricing issues yet to be decided.
As part of the larger effort, Apple is said to be developing new software to make it easier for publishers to create digital versions of magazines and newspapers, with special emphasis placed on adding interactive content such as high-definition video, and is also working on server technology that would allow the publications to be updated in the background. Curiously, Apple in February forced iOS developer omz:software to change the name of its Newsstand RSS reader application due to what it said was a trademark complaint and later added a “Newsstand” section to the App Store highlighting a variety of publications and reading applications.
Apple has announced that it will launch the iPhone 4 in China on September 25. According to the release, the device will be available in Apple’s retail stores beginning at 8:00 a.m., including the new Apple Store Hong Kong Plaza in Shanghai and the new Apple Store Xidan Joy City in Beijing opening on the same day. In Apple’s stores, the iPhone 4 will be available without a contract for CNY4,999 (roughly $744) for the 16GB model and CNY5,999 (~$893) for the 32GB model, while China Unicom will offer the phone with a new two year contract. Strangely, Apple’s off-contract prices are cheaper than Unicom’s pre-order pricing for the iPhone 4 as reported by the Wall Street Journal; it is unclear whether the prior report was inaccurate or if China Unicom is including an extra value for the higher prices.
A new Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a wireless transceiver accessory that would allow devices such as the iPad Wi-Fi and iPod touch to access cellular networks. Entitled “Accessory Transceiver for Mobile Devices,” the application describes a transceiver that can connect to a mobile device via either a cord or wirelessly, and could support functions such as telephony, SMS, e-mail, and web access, via a cellular, Wi-Fi, satellite, or WiMAX network. In another embodiment, the device itself contains a transceiver, and the accessory is used to access a second network. [via]
- September 16, 2010
In an interview with Reuters, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz made disparaging remarks about Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising service. Bartz criticized Apple’s strategy of controlling the content of and producing early ads, saying, “That’s going to fall apart for them. Advertisers are not going to have that type of control over them. Apple wants total control over those ads.” A Wall Street Journal report from August indicated that one announced launch partner—Chanel SA—backed out of the service, and that new ads were taking between eight to ten weeks to create, and sometimes two weeks longer than expected for Apple to build the actual ads themselves, due to the company’s tight control over the creative process and the ad agencies’ learning curves.
In addition to China, Apple has announced (Translated Link) that it will launch the iPad in five Latin American countries — Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru — on Friday, September 17. According to the company’s press release, both the iPad Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G will be available from select Apple Authorized Resellers; users in those regions are encouraged to visit http://latam.apple.com/la/buy/ to find a nearby iPad reseller. [via MDN]
According to the latest data from comScore, both Apple and BlackBerry-maker RIM lost U.S. smartphone market share to Android during the three months ending in July 2010. First place RIM went from an average share of 41.1% in the three months ending in April to 39.3% in the three months ending in July, a -1.8% change, while Apple’s share of the market went from 25.1% to 23.8%, or a drop of 1.3%, over the same time period. Android, meanwhile, went from an average of 12% of the market in the three months ending in April to 17% in the three months ending in July, a gain of 5%. ComScore’s numbers represent total U.S. smartphone subscribers ages 13 and up.
Apple today announced that it is releasing a beta version of AirPrint wireless printing for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch to members of its iOS Developer Program, and that the new feature will be part of iOS 4.2 when it is released publicly in November. AirPrint automatically finds printers on local networks that can print text, photos, and graphics wirelessly over Wi-Fi without the need for additional drivers or software. Supported printers include HP Photosmart, Officejet, Officejet Pro and LaserJet Pro series ePrint models, as well as printers shared through a Mac or a PC. Notably, Apple claims that printing will only be supported on iOS devices that support multitasking, yet lists the second-generation iPod touch as compatible, while omitting the iPhone 3G.
“AirPrint is Apple’s powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS—no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users can simply tap to print their documents or photos wirelessly to an HP ePrint printer or to a printer shared on a Mac or PC.”
“We’re pleased to work with Apple to bring Apple’s AirPrint to our fall lineup of ePrint printers in time for the holiday shopping season,” said Vyomesh Joshi, HP executive vice president, Imaging and Printing Group. “Making it easy for our customers to print anytime, anywhere, is a key priority for HP. iPad, iPhone and iPod touch customers are going to love how easy it is to print using our new range of ePrint printers, creating high-quality printed pages in an instant.”
Apple has released its first beta version of iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Announced by Apple earlier this month and slated for a November release, iOS 4.2 will bring several new features to Apple’s mobile device OS, including AirPlay streaming, AirPrint wireless printing, and the ability to import .ics files directly into Calendar as new events, and will bring the iPad’s software feature set into parity with the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s iOS 4.2 Beta for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is available now as a free download for paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
- September 14, 2010
Apple has launched a new online support feature dubbed Express Lane aimed at making it easier for customers to get in touch with Apple representatives ready to deal with their particular product. AppleInsider reports that the new feature narrows down possible issues by having users select the problematic product, enter that product’s serial number, and describe the issue — at which point they are provided with recommended support documents, and if those aren’t able to fix the issue, a final “Contact Options” page is presented listing the customer service options available given the nature of the problem.
You can find more Apple Support links in our Help! section.
Former Apple global supply manager Paul Devine, who was recently arrested and accused of accepting kickback payments from iPod and iPhone accessory suppliers, has agreed to a court order protecting Apple trade secrets. Bloomberg reports that the protective order covers documents, tapes, diskettes, hard drives or other media produced during the discovery phase of the criminal case containing material “that is intended to be kept secret and is trade secret information belonging to Apple.” Devine, who is also the defendant in a civil suit brought against himself and business partner Andrew Ang by Apple, agreed to procedures about how the data will be handled in pre-trial negotiations, without giving up the right to potentially use such information during the trial. Devine is accused of sharing confidential information from Apple with the suppliers, which used the information to negotiate favorable contracts with Apple.
A currently unconfirmed Apple acquisition may have played a part in the company’s addition of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography to its iOS 4.1 feature set. Eric Slivka of Mac Rumors reports that Apple may have purchased UK-based company imsense to gain its expertise in dealing with HDR processing. Imsense, known for its “eye-fidelity” near-instantaneous Dynamic Range Correction software algorithms, was purchased by “an undisclosed trade buyer in July 2010,” according to a note on the website of Braveheart Ventures, which backed imsense. The report goes on to note that nearly all of imsense’s web presence, including its website and Facebook and Twitter accounts, has been removed since its acquisition, and its iOS application imphoto has disappeared from the App Store. Finally, imsense Director of Engineering Alexis Gatt left the company in July 2010, only to become a senior engineer at Apple.
Apple has announced that it will launch the iPad Wi-Fi in China this Friday, September 17, at 10:00 a.m. local time. Curiously, Apple’s announcement makes no mention of when or if the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G might be available despite a recent report that indicated the company had reached an agreement with China Unicom to offer the device. The release also states that Apple plans to roll out the iPad in “many more countries” later this year, and will announce availability and pricing details for these additional countries at a later date. Notably, the announcement also refers to the model as the “iPad Wi-Fi,” and not the iPad with Wi-Fi. The iPad Wi-Fi in China will sell for CNY3988 (roughly $590) for the 16GB model, CNY4788 (~$708) for 32GB, and CNY5588 ($827) for the 64GB version.
Apple has posted a notice on its iPhone 4 Case Program page confirming that the program will end on September 30, while leaving the door open for free Bumper giveaways to customers most affected/upset by their iPhone 4’s antenna problems. “We now know that the iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller than we originally thought,” says the message at the top of the dedicated Case Program page. “A small percentage of iPhone 4 users need a case, and we want to continue providing them a Bumper case for free. For everyone else, we are discontinuing the free case program on all iPhone 4s sold after September 30, 2010. We are also returning to our normal returns policy for all iPhone 4s sold after September 30. Users experiencing antenna issues should call AppleCare to request a free Bumper case.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the company’s iPhone 4 antenna media event that the company would re-evaluate the Case Program as the proposed September 30 deadline approached. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has posted its new “iPad is Musical” TV advertisement, the latest for its first-generation tablet computer. Like its prior “iPad is Delicious” commercial, the new spot shows the iPad being used mostly in front of a white background, utilizing a variety of different apps. The spot starts with the words “iPad is” on the screen, and is followed by a different descriptor—including “medical,” “live,” “musical,” “work,” “play,” “memories,” “social,” “magazines,” and “historic”—after each app is shown. As with the prior “iPad is” ad, it features the song “Never Stop” by Gonzales in the background. Apple’s new “iPad is Musical” ad is available for viewing on the company’s website.
Apple has teamed with BridgeCo, a software company that sells chips for wireless music streaming, to offer AirPlay functionality on third-party systems. CNBC reports that Apple has worked with BridgeCo in the past on iPod docking products, and approached the company a year ago to offering to make it a launch partner on AirPlay. “Apple has never opened up their eco-system,” says BridgeCo CEO Gene Sheridan. “We’ve always been knocking on the door to work with them on this.” Sheridan continued, “they’re not gonna create the world’s stereo equipment,” instead opting to leverage BridgeCo’s existing portfolio of customers including Denon, iHome Audio, Marantz, JBL, and Bowers & Wilkins. “There is a magic to Apple that sounds simple. They know how to take a complex and feature-rich technology and narrow it,” Sheridan said, noting that out of a long list of potential features BridgeCo could offer the company, Apple picked only three.