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Apple sued over iOS location tracking

Apple has been sued in federal court over iOS 4’s ability to track device location. Bloomberg reports that Vikram Ajjampur, a Florida-based iPhone user, and William Devito, a New York iPad user, have filed suit against Apple in Tampa, FL, accusing Apple of invasion of privacy and computer fraud, and seeking an order barring the alleged location data collection. The plaintiffs are seeking class action status to represent U.S. customers whose devices run iOS 4, a group that could include one-third to one-half the country’s 60 million iPhone users, according to Aaron Mayer, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “We take issue specifically with the notion that Apple is now basically tracking people everywhere they go,” Mayer told Bloomberg in a phone interview. “If you are a federal marshal you have to have a warrant to do this kind of thing, and Apple is doing it without one.”

iOS location tracking draws government inquiries, Jobs responds

A report from last week revealing that iOS 4 devices regularly record their positions to hidden files has sparked a wave of inquiries from government agencies and representatives. According to the New York Times, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts have contacted Apple separately, each asking for an explanation as to why the location data was being collected and stored, and what it was being used for. The same report indicates that various agencies in Germany, Italy, and France are planning investigations and/or inquiries into the matter, while Politico reports that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is also looking into it. Separately, Bloomberg reports that South Korea’s Korea Communications Commission has also asked Apple how often the location data is collected and saved, whether users have a choice over whether it is saved or deleted, and whether the information is being stored on the company’s servers.

The Wall Street Journal has tested the feature on an iPhone with its Location Services turned off, and discovered that the location data is still recorded despite the setting, although the coordinates recorded were not from the exact locations the phone traveled, which is consistent with prior results. Finally, Mac Rumors reports that a reader emailed Apple CEO Steve Jobs about the issue, saying, “Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? It’s kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don’t track me.” Jobs responded in his typically terse style, saying, “Oh yes they do. We don’t track anyone. The info circulating around is false.” While it is obvious that iOS 4 devices are indeed tracking and recording users’ locations, it’s possible Jobs was referring to the fact that the data does not appear to be collected by Apple, thus supporting Jobs’ “we don’t track anyone” claim.

Apple already signing deals for cloud music service?

Apple has already secured deals with two of the four big music labels for its upcoming cloud-based music service, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, AllThingsD reports that the first two deals were signed within the last two months, and that Apple’s Vice President of iTunes Eddy Cue will be in New York today to try and finalize the remaining deals. “They’ve been very aggressive and thoughtful about it,” said one industry executive. “It feels like they want to go pretty soon.” The report also states that the general idea of the service is for Apple to let customers store songs they’ve purchased from the iTunes Store, as well as other songs stored on their hard drives, for listening across multiple devices; it adds that the deals Apple is signing will let it store a single master copy of a song on its servers for sharing with multiple users, while Amazon’s service works much more like an external hard drive. The report gave no clues as to when Apple might launch the service, although prior reports have stated it could launch as early as June.

Apple releases iBooks 1.2.2, brings bug fixes

Apple has released iBooks 1.2.2, the latest version of its e-Reader software for iOS. According to the company’s release notes, version 1.2.2 addresses issues playing video included with enhanced books from the iBookstore, resolves a problem where some books open with a different font than expected, makes iBooks more responsive when navigating books with many items in their table of contents, and other “important stability and performance improvements.” iBooks 1.2.2 requires iOS 3.2 or later and is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Samsung countersues Apple over the iPhone, iPad

Following Apple’s filing of a lawsuit against Samsung in the U.S., Samsung has countersued the company, claiming infringement on 10 mobile technology patents by the iPhone and iPad. Samsung filed the suits in its home country of South Korea, Japan, and Germany, and said the patents involve power reduction during data transmission, 3G technology for reducing errors while transmitting data, and wireless data communication technology, according to Reuters. “Samsung is responding actively to the legal action taken against us in order to protect our intellectual property and to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business,” the company said in a statement. During the company’s Second Quarter 2010 Financial Results Conference Call, Apple COO Tim Cook addressed the lawsuit against Samsung, saying that Apple is Samsung’s biggest customer and considers them a valued component supplier, and that he expects their strong relationship to continue despite the lawsuit.

Report: Apple cloud music service set to launch

Apple has “completed work” on its cloud-based music storage service and is set to launch it ahead of a competing service from Google, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with both companies’ plans, Reuters reports that the new service will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and access them from anywhere they have an Internet connection. The report adds that Apple has yet to sign any new licenses for the service and that the major music labels are hoping to secure deals ahead of the service’s launch, although they have not yet been told when that will be. Apple has reportedly been working on the music service for some time, which may or may not be tied into a revamp of MobileMe.

Notes from Apple’s Q2 2011 Earnings Conference Call

During Apple’s Second Quarter 2011 Financial Results Conference Call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and Apple COO Tim Cook made several comments concerning its media-related products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. In his opening statements, Oppenheimer said that it was the highest March quarter in revenue and earnings ever for the company, with the highest year-over-year revenue growth ever generated. The numbers were boosted by an single-quarter record for iPhone sales, plus “robust” iPad sales—he said the company was “thrilled” with the iPad’s momentum—and 28% year-over-year growth in Mac sales, which totaled 3.76 million.

Oppenheimer also said that the iTunes Store had its best quarter ever, and the iBookstore saw 17,000 eBooks added during the quarter; the iBookstore now offers eBooks from 2,500 publishers, and has seen over 100 million downloads. While overall iPod sales were down, they were ahead of internal expectations, and were comprised of 60 percent iPod touch units, enabling Apple to maintain a 70 percent share of the MP3 player market. Overall, just under 189 million iOS devices had been sold, cumulatively, by the end of the quarter.

Apple Q2 2011: 9.02 million iPods, 18.65 million iPhones, 4.69 million iPads

Reporting its second quarter financial results today, Apple said it sold 9.02 million iPods during the quarter — a 17 percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Apple also sold 18.65 million iPhones in the quarter, a 113 percent increase year-over-year, and up from the 16.24 million units sold in the holiday quarter. Apple also sold 4.69 million iPads during the quarter, down from 7.33 million units in the prior quarter. The units sales of iPhones, iPods, and iPads bring the cumulative unit sales for the three device categories to 108.55 million, 307.02 million, and 19.48 million, respectively. The company posted revenue of $24.67 billion and net quarterly profit of $5.99 billion, or $6.40 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $13.5 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.07 billion, or $3.33 per diluted share in Q2 2010.

Sales of Other Music Related Products + Services were up 23% over the year-ago quarter, and up 14% from Q1 2011, to $1.63 billion total. That category includes iTunes Store sales, iPod services, and revenues from Apple and third-party iPod accessories. International sales accounted for 59 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“With quarterly revenue growth of 83 percent and profit growth of 95 percent, we’re firing on all cylinders,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We will continue to innovate on all fronts throughout the remainder of the year.”

“We are extremely pleased with our record March quarter revenue and earnings and cash flow from operations of over $6.2 billion,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter of 2011, we expect revenue of about $23 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $5.03.”

Apple drops iPad 2 wait times to 1-2 weeks

Apple has dropped its estimated shipment wait times on the iPad 2 to 1-2 weeks in many of the countries where the device is available. As noted by Mac Rumors, the new 1-2 week estimate is now posted on Apple’s online stores in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand, while estimates on its European stores remain at 2-3 weeks. Apple last dropped its wait times to 2-3 weeks on April 4.

Apple asks for dismissal in iPod, iTunes antitrust lawsuit

Apple has asked a federal judge to dismiss a consumer antitrust lawsuit related to the pairing of the iPod to the iTunes Music Store. Apple attorney Robert Mittelstaedt told U.S. District Judge James Ware that blocking iPod music downloads that used competitors’ software was intended to protect iTunes and iPod customers’ quality of experience. “Apple’s view is that iPods work better when consumers use the iTunes jukebox rather than third party software that can cause corruption or other problems,” Mittelstaedt said at a hearing. The request comes just days after Apple CEO Steve Jobs, still on medical leave from the company, met with plaintiff attorneys for a court-ordered deposition. The case, which dates back to 2005, revolves around RealNetworks’ Harmony technology, which promised to allow copy-protected music sold on its online store to be played on iPods. The technology was introduced in July 2004, and Apple took just five days to announce software updates to render the technology inoperable, saying its was “stunned” that Real had “adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod.” Judge Ware is expected to rule on Apple’s dismissal request by May.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2.2

Apple has released iTunes 10.2.2, the latest version of its media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, 10.2.2 includes a number of “important” bug fixes; it addresses an issue where iTunes may become unresponsive when syncing an iPad, resolves an issue which could cause syncing photos to an iOS device to take longer than necessary, fixes a problem where video previews on the iTunes Store could skip while playing, and addresses “other issues that improve stability and performance. iTunes 10.2.2 is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility or as a direct download from apple.com/itunes and is a 24.5MB download for Mac users.

Apple sues Samsung over Galaxy phones, tablets

Apple has sued Samsung over the latter’s Galaxy series of phones and tablets, claiming that the products infringe on Apple’s intellectual property. The Wall Street Journal reports that the suit names products such as the Galaxy S 4G, Epic 4G, Nexus S, and Galaxy Tab as copying the look and feel of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. “Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products,” the lawsuit said. Notably, Apple purchases flash memory and other components from Samsung, and the South Korean company is the manufacturer of the A4 chip found in the iPhone 4, as well as the new A5 chip that powers the iPad 2.

ITC recommends siding with HTC, Nokia over Apple

The staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has recommended that HTC and Nokia shouldn’t be found liable of infringing upon Apple patents. Bloomberg reports that Erin Joffre, a lawyer for the staff that acts on the behalf of the public as a third party in the case, made the staff’s position known at the start of an ITC trial in which Apple is seeking to block imports of Android-powered HTC phones as well as some made by Nokia. “What makes Apple products so successful is not just what you see, but what’s under the hood,” said Apple lawyer Greg Arovas of Kirkland & Ellis during his opening arguments. Arovas described the patents in question as important for the “seamless integration of hardware and software” in smartphones. HTC lawyer Robert Van Nest of Keker & Van Nest countered, saying that “HTC is a smartphone innovator and pioneer in the smartphone sphere—they were there long before Apple. The fundamental differences from the Apple patents represent choices made by HTC and Google.” The Judge in the case, Carl Charneski, is expected to release his findings on August 5.

Apple hires away Microsoft cloud computing manager

Apple has hired Kevin Timmons, former General Manager of Data Center Operations for Microsoft, according to a new report. Saying simply that members of the data center community had been discussing the development, the Green Data Center Blog reports that Timmons’ position at Apple is not known, but that he will not be filling the position left open by the passing of Oliver Sanche, who had been Apple’s Director of Global Data Center Operations—in fact, the report states that Sanche’s position has already been filled by another data center operations executive. Microsoft has confirmed Timmons’ departure, telling Data Center Knowledge that “Kevin Timmons, general manager of Datacenter Services, has decided to pursue other career opportunities and is no longer working at Microsoft,” and adding that “We appreciate the contributions he made to Microsoft during his time here;” Apple has yet to comment on the matter.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.2 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Apple has released iOS 4.3.2 for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM), iPad, iPad 2, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. According to Apple’s release notes, the update “fixes an issue that occasionally caused blank or frozen video during a FaceTime call,” “fixes an issue that prevented some international users from connecting to 3G networks on iPad Wi-Fi + 3G,” and “contains the latest security updates.” Notably, the notes make no mention of the problems domestic iPad 2 CDMA users had connecting to Verizon Wireless’ network, as had been previously speculated. In addition, Apple has released iOS 4.2.7 for the CDMA iPhone 4. Both updates are available now via the Update feature in iTunes.

Update: Apple has posted a support article documenting the security changes in iOS 4.3.2.

Apple patent points to hybrid E Ink/video display

A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company is investigating display technology that would allow devices to switch between an e-Ink and video displays as needed. Entitled “Systems and Methods for Switching Between an Electronic Paper Display and a Video Display,” the patent describes a device with a display that contains a touch-sensitive surface, an electronic paper display, and a video display. While E Ink electronic paper is specifically mentioned in the application, the display could include any suitable electronic ink display. By using addressable microcapsules inside the electronic ink display, the display could be made to appear transparent, allowing for viewing of the video display—of LCD, OLED, or some other suitable technology.

In addition, the patent describes a system of regions within the displays that could be used to show both the electronic paper display and the video display in different areas of the screen at the same time. According to the patent, the device could automatically choose which display technology to use based on color composition or rate of change. 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 Patently Apple]

Apple hires materials guru as Composites Engineer

Apple has hired Kevin Kenney as a Senior Composites Engineer, according to Kenney’s LinkedIn profile. The profile reveals that Kenney spent more than 13 years as the President & CEO of Kestrel Bicycles—a company that specializes in bikes with carbon-based frames—before leaving to start his own firm. Interestingly, it appears as though Kenney was doing work for Apple prior to his recent full-time hiring, as an Apple patent application from May 2009 for a “Reinforced device housing” made from a fiber-in-matrix material lists Kenney as the sole inventor. In addition to his background in working with fiber, Kenney’s profile also notes that he has experience in logistics, purchasing, and supply chain management. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple reportedly hires Nintendo, Activision PR executives

A recent report from gaming magazine MCV indicates that Apple may be hiring two top public relations executives away from Nintendo and Activision. Rick Saunders, head of communications at Nintendo UK announced last week that he would be leaving the company after seven years, although he did not indicate where he would be going next. Saunders is said to have played a key role at Nintendo in the Wii and DS launches and in building strong relationships with mainstream media. MCV reports that Saunders’ role at Apple will be to focus on PR for iOS apps. The second PR executive, Nick Grange of Activision is rumoured to be moving to Apple into a role focused on iPad hardware. Grange worked for Electronic Arts and Microsoft before joining Activision in 2007 where he is currently the European PR director. Neither appointment has been officially confirmed by Apple or the individuals involved. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple patent reveals Smart Bezel details

An Apple patent application revealed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office today provides more details on a possible implementation of a “smart bezel” user interface for iOS devices. Apple received a patent last year for a touch-sensitive bezel which described a number of implementations for extending the touch-based interface beyond the perimeter of the screen in order to manipulate or control what is being displayed on the screen. The patent application revealed today provides a more in-depth look at possible approaches covering “systems and methods for selectively illuminating a secondary display.” The application notes that an electronic device could include a primary display screen and a “printed segmented electroluminescence secondary display.” The primary display would be used to display visual content while the secondary display would display selectively illuminated indicators to represent buttons and other controls. In the application, Apple notes the major limitation of the current on-screen touchscreen control model as occupying “space on the touch screen that could otherwise be used for displaying visual content” and proposes the secondary display as a solution by moving the user controls off the primary display. The application goes on to summarize ways in which the secondary display would work, including selectively illuminating portions of the secondary display based on conditions such as application state, motion sensing components, device orientation and location. 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 Patently Apple]

Apple to begin selling iPad 2 at Toys R Us?

A recent report from ModMyI suggests that retailer Toys R Us may begin selling the iPad 2 in its stores as early as next month, revealing a photo of an iPad 2 product knowledge sheet from an internal training session intended to familiarize employees with new products. Toys R Us began selling select iPod models in late 2008, however the retailer has not previously offered the iPad. It is unclear at this time whether the iPad 2 would be sold internationally or only in the company’s U.S. stores. The iPad 2 is already being sold in the U.S. at other third-party retailers such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and Radio Shack. [via Mac Rumors]

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