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Apple files plans for Oregon data center

Apple has filed its master plan for its data center facility in Prineville, Oregon. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the plan shows two buildings with more than 500,000 sq. ft. of “data halls”; the overall facility is expected to cover about 107 acres. No time table is given in the plans for construction. “They really didn’t say how long they are looking at,” Prineville senior planner Joshua Smith said. Apple is already building a 10,000 sq. ft. data center on the Princeville property it purchased in February.

Apple in talks with cable operators over live TV

Apple is in talks with some of the U.S.’ largest cable operators about letting an Apple device serve as a set-top box for live television and other content, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that no deal has yet been reached with any of the operators, possibly due to their reluctance to let Apple establish a larger presence in the TV business. Although the report does not state whether the device in question is an iteration of the current Apple TV or a more sophisticated device, it does cite two people briefed on the matter who claimed that the technology could be embedded in a television.

Apple granted Radial Menus Patent

Apple has been granted a major patent relating to a new radial menu design for computer applications, according to a report from Patently Apple. In the newly granted patent 8,245,156, Radial menu selection, Apple describes a design for radial menus that can be used for both desktop and portable devices, working with a mouse or touch interactions using a finger, stylus or iPen, presenting menus and submenus at optimal locations. Such a new radial menu system would be an alternative method of presenting menu options from the traditional linear pull-down menus that have been used in most computer applications and operating systems to date.

Radial menus would appear as a collection of menu options presented as a set of wedges surrounding a central cursor position on a display, with submenus cascading from the first circle of wedges as necessary. Apple’s patent describes several unique aspects of radial menu implementations using sweep-based gestures, including Sweep Commands, Selecting and Activating Menu Items with Sweep Commands, Predicting Stopping Location of Sweep Commands, Serial Sweep Commands, Moving Menus and Spring-Load Commands. The patent was originally filed in 2008 and lists Charles Migos and Jean-Pierre Mouilleseaux as the inventors.

Apple: Microsoft licensed iOS patents, Samsung declined

In recent testimony given in the Apple and Samsung patent trial, Apple patent licensing director Boris Teksler revealed that Apple has licensed its design patents to Microsoft, although the deal includes an “anti-cloning agreement” that prevents Microsoft from directly copying the iPhone and iPad in its own designs. Teksler described Apple’s decision to license its patents to Microsoft as consistent with its corporate strategy as the deal prohibited Microsoft from building direct copies of Apple’s products.

Teksler went on to note that Apple also offered a patent licensing arrangement to Samsung in 2010, although it viewed patents related to the “unique user experience” as a highly protected category, which included design patents involved in the current lawsuit between the two companies relating to the “look and feel” of the iPhone and iPad.  Teksler told the court that he could “count on one hand” the number of times that Apple had actually licensed those patents. The two companies were ultimately not able to come to a licensing agreement at that time and Apple filed a lawsuit in federal court in April 2011.

Apple Stores now price-matching iPhone discounts

Apple’s retail stores have started to match retailers’ and carriers’ discounted iPhone prices, according to a new report. Citing an unnamed source, MacRumors reports that the stores have received authorization to match “Market Support-approved” prices from major retailers and carriers. As such, a discount of $49.01 will be taken off select iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models, depending on the carrier. The report notes that customers will likely need to cite the source of the lower pricing in order for Apple to honor the offer; the policy appears to apply only at Apple’s retail stores and not to online orders.

iOS 6 adds Wi-Fi Plus Cellular data option

The fourth beta version of iOS 6 has added a new Wi-Fi Plus Cellular data option for iPhones and iPads. AppAdvice reports that in the General>Cellular section of iOS 6 beta 4’s Settings app lies an option called Wi-Fi Plus Cellular. According to the screenshot posted in the report, the option is designed to “allow apps having trouble with Wi-Fi to use cellular data.” Notably, iOS 6 beta 3 appeared to enable such behavior by default; this switch in beta 4 is effectively adding a way for users to turn the feature off. Apple is set to release iOS 6 this fall.

Apple now offering refurbished third-gen iPads

Apple is now offering a range of refurbished third-generation iPads on its online store. Pricing for the refurbished units starts at $449 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model and goes up to $779 for a 64GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model. Notably, both black and white versions of both models are available, as are both AT&T and Verizon variants of + cellular models. As with all Apple refurbished products, all of them include a full one-year Apple warranty.

Apple airs new third-gen iPad commercial

Apple has started to air a new TV commercial for the third-generation iPad. Entitled “All On iPad”, the ad follows the patten of prior third-gen iPad ads, showing the device performing various tasks in front of a white background while a narrator speaks. “Read it, Tweet it, be surprised, be productive,” the narrator reads. “Make a sale, make some lunch, make a movie night. Play a game, or an old favorite. Do it all more beautifully with the Retina Display on iPad.” The new commercial is available for viewing from the above link or in embedded form below.

iOS 6 Simulator points to 1136x640 display support

Apple’s most recently released version of the iOS Simulator developer tool suggests that iOS 6 already contains support for 1136x640 displays. 9to5Mac reports that when using a tweaked version of the iOS Simulator application, iOS 6 fully supported the expected next-generation iPhone resolution, offering up five complete rows of icons, not including the dock. When the current public release of iOS 5.1 was used, the Simulator instead displayed the Home screen with a stretched set of four rows of icons. Notably, the report claims that the simulator will not correctly display five rows of icons at resolutions other than 1146x640, instead scaling icons to an “iPad-like” Home screen layout, and not at the proportions and scaling of the current iPhone and iPod touch display. Apple is expected to unveil its next-generation iPhone at a special media event on September 12.

iOS 6 beta 4 removes YouTube, adds Bluetooth Sharing

A couple of noteworthy changes have been made to iOS 6 as of the fourth beta update. Perhaps most notably, Apple has removed YouTube from the list of built-in apps. YouTube was a last-minute pre-launch addition to the iPhone in 2007, and has remained a built-in app across all iOS devices since. Apple has recently moved to distance its mobile platform from Google in iOS 6, however, replacing the latter’s Maps service with an in-house solution. The YouTube app had not been updated in some time; Apple may simply be leaving its development up to Google, which will presumably be able to release a new YouTube app as a free download from the App Store.

In addition, a new “Bluetooth Sharing” menu has appeared inside the Settings app. Found under the Privacy heading, it lists apps that have requested the ability to share data via Bluetooth. While its exact purpose is currently unknown, it is possible that this menu could tie-in to the Bluetooth 4 linking feature revealed by iLounge in a report last week.

Update: Apple has released a statement regarding the removal of the YouTube app. “Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

Apple seeds iOS 6 beta 4 to developers

Apple has released the fourth beta version of iOS 6 to developers. As with prior iOS 6 beta updates, beta 4 is available as an over-the-air software update or as a direct download from the iOS Dev Center, and is accompanied by a new beta version of the Apple TV software, as well as an updated version of Xcode and the iOS 6 SDK. The new version is listed as build 10A5376e; it is unclear what changes may be contained in the release. iOS 6 beta 4 is available now to registered iOS developers.

Apple in talks to acquire Pinterest rival The Fancy?

Apple is in talks to acquire The Fancy, a growing social commerce site, according to a new report. Business Insider claims that while it has learned that there have been talks between the two companies, there is no signed deal and no guarantee of one. It is unclear what price Apple proposed to pay, or how recently the talks took place, but the report claims—citing a source familiar with Apple’s acquisition strategy—that The Fancy is at a stage where Apple typically buys companies. The Fancy is similar to Pinterest in allowing its users to make lists of items they find interesting, but has also started linking users to transactions, taking a 10 percent cut of sales in the process. Notably, Apple CEO Tim Cook is a user, having opened his account after meeting The Fancy CEO Joe Einhorn at the Allen & Co. Sun Valley conference earlier this year. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are on the company’s board, along with LeRoy Kim of Allen & Co. and Boston Celtics owner James Pallotta; Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz are also investors.

Apple Store update adds iWork preinstall option

Apple has updated its Apple Store app for the iPhone and iPod touch adding the ability for customers to have Pages, Keynote and Numbers pre-installed on any MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac or Mac Pro ordered from the Apple Store. Added to the Apple Store on the web earlier this week, the new option allows users to choose to bundle the purchase of any of the iWork apps with their new Mac, which will come already installed from the Mac App Store in the same way as the iLife apps—iPhoto, GarageBand and iMovie—presently do. The latest update to the Apple Store app also includes performance enhancements designed to improve the shopping experience. Apple Store 2.3 requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple patent points to advanced Smart Cover

A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a Smart Cover for the iPad that offers more functionality than the current accessory. Notably, the patent outlines a flexible display embedded in the cover itself, receiving power and data via a connector on the side. According to the patent, the display may be touch-sensitive, or may have a portion of the cover flap dedicated to an eInk display, which would require no power to maintain state. As noted by Engadget, possible uses for such a display are space for extra icons, media controls, or as a notification display; an image accompanying the patent application also shows a portion of the cover’s interior being used as a keyboard, like Microsoft’s recently announced Surface tablet cover. 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 and interest in this area.

Nevada board endorses Apple data center deal

The Nevada Board of Economic Development on Wednesday endorsed a deal negotiated by the state to help lure Apple to Reno with $89 million in tax breaks. The Associated Press (via the San Jose Mercury News) reports that the action was largely ceremonial, since the panel lacked the authority to change the agreement. Nevada Government Brian Sandoval called the deal a “win” for the state and said that Apple’s commitment will generate interest from other companies. The deal will see Apple build a 350-acre data center east of Sparks, NV, to house servers, as well as a purchasing and business center in a currently rundown area near downtown Reno.

Apple, Twitter talks focused on product integration

Following dueling reports from earlier in the week indicating that Apple had met with Twitter reps about a strategic investment, a new report claims that talks between the two companies centered more on product integration ideas. Citing multiple people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the investment idea never progressed into serious discussion or negotiations, while the product integration deal came together very quickly. According to the report, which cites two people briefed on the matter, the two companies continue to talk about future product integrations, which may include more deeply melding Twitter and iTunes as Apple prepares to phase out Ping later this year. Apple added Twitter integration in iOS 5 last year, and in OS X Mountain Lion last month.

AMD nabs Apple chip architect Keller

AMD has announced that it has hired Jim Keller away from Apple. Keller, who joined Apple as part of its acquisition of PA Semi, was a director in the platform architecture group and was focused on mobile products, playing a key role in the development of the A4 and A5 chip families. At AMD, Keller will serve as corporate vice president and chief architect of AMD’s microprocessor cores, and will report to CTO and senior vice president of technology and engineering Mark Papermaster, who is also an Apple veteran and who left the company in 2010 following the uproar over the iPhone 4’s antenna woes.

First day of Apple v. Samsung trial proves lively

The opening statements and first testimony were given yesterday as the trial between Apple and Samsung kicked off in San Jose, CA. Reuters reports that Apple attorney Harold McElhinny gave the opening statement, focusing on the dramatic difference in design between Samsung’s pre-iPhone handsets and those that came after the iPhone’s launch. During the statement, McElhinny showed jurors an internal Samsung product analysis which said the iPhone’s hardware was “easy to copy”; another said the company was in a “crisis of design” due to Apple’s handset. “As we all know it is easier to copy than to innovate,” McElhinny told the court. “Apple had already taken the risks.”

The first expert witness called was longtime Apple designer Christopher Stringer, who helped design the iPhone and also shed light on Apple’s internal design process. Cnet recounts his testimony, during which he said that the process for any product begins with lots of sketching, before heading off to a CAD phase, and said his team’s role is to “imagine objects that don’t exist, and guide the process that brings them to life.” “We work together around a kitchen table,” Stringer said. “We have our lives all around the products. In some ways it feels like a small company.” Regarding the iPhone, Stinger was very direct in his criticism of Samsung’s devices. “We’ve been ripped off, it’s plain to see. It’s offensive,” he said. “It’s a huge leap of imagination to come up with something new, that’s something we did. By which you have to dismiss everything you know, forget everything you know, it can be difficult.”

Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller briefly took the stand towards the end of the day, and discussed influences on Apple’s products. “We don’t use any customer input in the new product process,” Schiller said. “We never go and ask the customer, ‘What feature do you want in the next product?’ It’s not the customer’s job to know. We accumulate that information ourselves.” Schiller is expected to testify again when proceedings resume on Friday, the New York Times reports.

The day ended with Judge Lucy H. Koh demanding to know who on Samsung’s legal team authorized the public release of evidence that she had ordered excluded from the case. The release of the evidence—which was related to a Sony-inspired, Apple-created iPhone design—was accompanied by a statement from Samsung, which has been reprinted by AllThingsD. “The Judge’s exclusion of evidence on independent creation meant that even though Apple was allowed to inaccurately argue to the jury that the F700 was an iPhone copy, Samsung was not allowed to tell the jury the full story and show the pre-iPhone design for that and other phones that were in development at Samsung in 2006, before the iPhone,” the statement reads. “The excluded evidence would have established beyond doubt that Samsung did not copy the iPhone design. Fundamental fairness requires that the jury decide the case based on all the evidence.”

Apple adds Hulu Plus to Apple TV

Apple has added a new Hulu Plus app to the Apple TV. The app, which may require a restart before appearing, allows for access to the online streaming video service. As with Netflix, users can subscribe to Hulu Plus directly from the Apple TV using their iTunes account to pay the $7.99 monthly fee; a free one-week trial is currently being offered. Hulu is a joint venture of NBCUniversal, Fox, and Disney, and is also available on Apple’s mobile iOS devices via a free app.

Apple discussed buying stake in Twitter

Apple at one point discussed making a strategic investment in Twitter, according to a pair of new reports. Citing people briefed on the matter, the New York Times reports that the considered investment was in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and would have valued Twitter at more than $10 billion. While the report notes that the two companies are not in negotiations at the moment, the Wall Street Journal follows up with a report of its own, citing people familiar with the matter who claim that the discussions were held over a year ago. The latter report goes on to claim that the talks didn’t immediately result in a deal and aren’t currently active. Apple added direct Twitter integration to iOS starting with iOS 5, and subsequently added sharing support for the service to Mac OS X in Mountain Lion.

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