Using the iTunes Store to spread the news, Apple has confirmed that one billion podcasts have been subscribed to on iTunes. A special new section in the iTunes Store Podcasts section spotlights “some of the most popular podcasts of all time, as well as a collection of captivating new shows.” These featured podcasts are grouped into “The Classics,” “What’s Hot,” and “New & Noteworthy.” Podcasts on iTunes launched in the summer of 2005.
Following its acquisition of local data company Locationary last week, Apple also was confirmed to have acquired HopStop, an online transit navigation service that specializes in mass transit directions. HopStop offers mass transit travel directions in more than 500 cities — subway, bus, walking, cycling, and taxi directions are currently all included by the site. This acquisition is likely to fill a gap in Apple’s Maps service that became obvious after it switched away from Google, which has offered reliable mass transit guidance for years. [via Bloomberg, AllThingsD]
Apple is testing larger screens for both iPads and iPhones, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to company suppliers, Apple has “asked for prototype smartphone screens larger than 4 inches and has also asked for screen designs for a new tablet device measuring slightly less than 13 inches.” The iPhone 5 and fourth-generation iPad have screen sizes of 4 inches and 9.7 inches, respectively; rumors of a 12.9” iPad prototype appeared earlier this year. CEO Tim Cook has mentioned on numerous occasions that making larger screens for phones results in tradeoffs in overall product quality, but it’s possible that improved IGZO screen technology has enabled Apple to consider larger screens. Apple declined to comment.
Apple has released a statement noting that an intruder attempted to access its developer website last Thursday, with the hacker attempting to secure personal information from developers. Although sensitive information was encrypted, the company notes “we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses and/or email addresses may have been accessed.” The site has been down since Thursday, and Apple says it’s overhauling developer systems, updating server software and rebuilding its database. App updates, new releases, and behind-the-scenes developer account issues will be impacted by the hack; it’s also possible that the latest iOS 7 beta release may be delayed as a result.
A security researcher, Ibrahim Balić, claims that he reported a security hole in Apple’s developer portal hours before the site went down, according to 9to5Mac. Balić claims he could access names, Apple IDs/email addresses, and user IDs through a “simple unescaped injection attack.” According to the report, Balić says he did this “for security research purposes and does not plan to use the information in any malicious manner,” and he plans on deleting the information.
Apple has sent out invitations to some users for early access to its iWork for iCloud beta. Before now, only developers had access to the beta.
iWork for iCloud offers users the chance to access Pages, Numbers, and Keynote from the cloud, including creation, viewing, and editing capabilities for productivity documents. Anyone with an iCloud account can use it, and those invited to the beta can sign up at iCloud.com.
A 30-year-old Chinese man was shocked when connecting his iPhone charger, leaving him in a coma for more than 10 days. This is the second reported iPhone shock incident in the past week in China — Apple is looking into the death of a 23-year-old woman who was electrocuted when answering a call on her charging iPhone, originally reported to be an iPhone 5 but now confirmed to be a prior-generation model. In this case, the Chinese man was allegedly shocked when plugging in an iPhone 4 connected to a third-party charger. An electrical injury was obvious to medical experts, according to a translated report. [via Beijing Evening News (translated link)]
Apple has reportedly acquired Locationary, a small Toronto-based company specializing in local data. Locationary’s technology and team were included in the acquisition, according to AllThingsD. The price of the acquisition is unknown at this time. The report describes Locationary as “a sort of Wikipedia for local business listings,” using crowdsourcing and a data exchange program to keep local business information up-to-date and positionally accurate. Apple will likely use the technology to improve its mapping service.
Apple’s new Activation Lock feature for iOS 7 will be tested by prosecutors today to see if would-be thieves can still use a stolen iPhone 5. The tests are being headed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who previously challenged Apple and other companies to actively combat theft of mobile devices. “While we are appreciative of the efforts made by Apple and Samsung to improve security of the devices they sell, we are not going to take them at their word,” Schneiderman and Gascón said in a joint statement. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is also being tested. “Today we will assess the solutions they are proposing and see if they stand up to the tactics commonly employed by thieves.” [via CNET]
As Apple has recently released Apple TV app-like sections for HBO and ESPN while readying a Time Warner Cable app, the company has also “talked in-depth with other big distributors about similar apps,” according to The New York Times. So far, Apple’s move into TV has been focused on cooperating with distributors and programmers, though its “grand vision” — long-rumored to involve a TV set — is still a mystery. Apple apparently intends to collect fees from distributors to provide enhanced service while continuing to keep current subscribers paying for cable. An example of this enhanced service should be seen in the upcoming Time Warner app, which some say will offer a programming guide that’s “far superior” to Time Warner’s. It’s also noted that Apple has proposed an ad-skipping technology that would charge users for skipping ads, as reported earlier this week by Jessica Lessin. The technology would aim to compensate networks for ad revenue lost, preserving a monetization option for digitally distributed TV programming.
Apple, along with other tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, will reportedly publish a letter asking for increased transparency in U.S. government surveillance. The letter will ask government leaders to let service providers report on national security-related information requests with more detail. Faced with accusations of surreptitious data harvesting from their users, these companies wish to regularly report the number of: requests for user information, individuals or accounts for which information was requested, and requests seeking communications and other information. A government-issued transparency report is also sought by the coalition. “This information about how and how often the government is using these legal authorities is important to the American people, who are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of those authorities and their use,” a copy of the letter reads. [via AllThingsD]
Apple’s rumored smart watch will focus on fitness, according to a new 9to5Mac report. Likely to be a wearable computer on the wrist, the “iWatch” is being developed by a team reportedly led by Senior Vice President Bob Mansfield, Vice President Kevin Lynch, and senior hardware director James Foster. Lynch, who was hired from Adobe in March, is reportedly focusing on the device’s “overall software vision.” His team consists of former iPod hardware and software designers, while Foster’s team contains sensor, chip, and battery experts. Fitness and fashion experts have reportedly been brought in to assist with developing and marketing the device, as well.
Former iPhone engineers are also reportedly working on the device, and some people from Apple’s acquisition of biometric security company Authentec are working on sensors for the smart watch. Interestingly, it’s noted that Apple has hired people who have worked on devices that analyze sleep patterns — Apple could be giving the users a reason to keep the watch on through the night, which might lead to recharging challenges. Other designers and developers on the team specialize in distance measurement and “integrating mobile devices with fitness equipment.” The report speculates Apple may also want to measure medical information in “a non-invasive way;” for instance, glucose levels could be monitored while wearing the watch. A release date for the watch is still unknown — it was originally believed the iWatch could launch this year, but a recent report claims late 2014 is more likely.
A patent granted to Crucible Intellectual Property, the technology partnership formed by Apple and Liquidmetal Technologies, could enable mass production of amorphous metal alloys — otherwise known as metallic glass — in the fabrication of devices. The patent involves the creation of molten metal sheets that could be formed into an electronic device like the iPhone, or as part of a display, such as with a TV monitor. It notably suggests that Apple and Liquidmetal have developed a system to fabricate large pieces of the malleable material, which was previously considered difficult to commercialize due to mass manufacturing challenges.
Apple’s iPhone 5S will ramp up production later this month, according to a report from AllThingsD. “Sources familiar with the company’s plans” have confirmed reports about increased iPhone 5S production, including a mention from analyst Peter Misek. Notably, Misek previously claimed the 5S would enter preliminary production in March for a June or July launch. Misek has now said the latest increase in production will follow current production of Apple’s unnamed budget iPhone, which AllThingsD suggests will be “mid-end,” and likely to sell for $300 to $400 unsubsidized. The AllThingsD confirmation of iPhone 5S production can be taken as highly likely to be accurate, and its discussion of the budget iPhone appears to add further weight to prior pricing rumors on that topic.
Apple is negotiating to acquire PrimeSense, the company that created the technology behind Microsoft’s Kinect, according to a report from Israeli publication Calcalist. Though the negotiations are in the early stages, a deal could reportedly cost Apple around $280 million. PrimeSense holds important patents related to motion sensors reading body movements, which Apple may want to use as it develops its next-generation Apple TV and/or television set. Microsoft used the company’s technology for Kinect, and is now using it in the enhanced Kinect hardware developed for Xbox One. [via 9to5Mac]
A recent Apple hiring spree focused on the company’s rumored smart watch suggests that the device won’t be ready for launch until late 2014, according to the Financial Times. Apple is reportedly “aggressively” hiring for the project at this time. Though Apple has recently filed for the “iWatch” trademark in multiple countries, the release date for such a product still remains a mystery. Reports earlier this year suggested that the company was facing significant battery life issues as a result of a decision to use the iOS operating system for the watch, rather than sticking with the lower-power operating system built for the sixth-generation iPod nano.
Meanwhile, another report has surfaced suggesting that the Retina iPad mini will be delayed until 2014. This new report from Digitimes claims Apple is attempting to design a Retina display iPad mini with “an almost bezel-free look,” likely to be released next year. A “slightly updated” version of the current iPad mini may ship in the second half of this year.
Update: DigiTimes is now contradicting its own recent report, saying there will be no delay for the Retina iPad mini, which should launch in October. Once seemingly on the upswing, the publication’s track record of accuracy has returned to “highly questionable,” casting doubt on the veracity of anything it publishes regarding future Apple products.
Apple will use Samsung to manufacture A9 chips for a future iPhone, according to a new report. Samsung reportedly signed an agreement to supply the processors to Apple in 2015. The report notes Samsung lost the contract for A8 chips to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, but regained the order by developing “state-of-the-art 14 nano models.” This appears to contradict a prior report claiming TSMC would start to produce A9 and A9X chips for Apple in the third-quarter of 2014, in addition to the A8 chips, which should go into production this month. Ambiguities in Apple’s supply chain have grown as the company has expanded its manufacturing and component supply partners, including efforts to reduce its dependence on Samsung. [via The Korea Economic Daily]
Apple is looking into the death of a Chinese woman who was apparently killed when answering a call on her charging iPhone 5. According to China’s Xinhua news agency, 23-year-old Ma Ailun was electrocuted when she took a call on the charging phone. Apple declined to comment on details, but released an email saying, “We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family. We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter.” [via Reuters]
Time Inc., publisher of Time Magazine and 20 other magazines, will offer free iOS Newsstand previews for all of its publications by year’s end. The magazines will let users read a few articles from a magazine, while teasing the rest of the content — the Entertainment Weekly iPad app is currently offering the feature in its latest issue. Time Inc. hopes to increase its number of digital-only subscribers with the move. Notably, the publisher didn’t reach an agreement with Apple on magazine sales until June of last year. [via AllThingsD]
Apple’s new Retina-equipped iPad mini may not ship until next year, according to a Taiwanese report. A shortage of Retina displays may cause Apple to push back the device’s shipping date. The report also seems to indicate there may be a non-Retina version of the next-generation iPad mini, though any differences in release dates or features between the rumored devices are unknown. A June report also claimed the release of the second-generation iPad mini would be pushed back a few months, but indicated it would likely be available by the holiday season. [via Economic Daily News (translated link)]
Apple has launched a “fact-finding visit” to Bangka Island, Indonesia, to see if it is using illegally mined tin in its products, according to an update on the company’s Supplier Responsibility webpage. The move may have been prompted by a Friends of the Earth campaign that calls for Apple to “publicly come clean” about the sourcing of tin in its iPhones. Samsung has already admitted to using tin from Bangka Island. Tin mining on Bangka Island is reportedly responsible for destroying forests and farmland, harming coral reefs, and negatively impacting local communities. [via The Verge]