A newly revealed Apple patent application reveals a system that can adjust and enhance audio based on a user’s proximity to the device. While the application notes that the device could be a computer, tablet, or audio player, Apple also notes that it could be used for a television—and includes illustrations showing what appears to be a TV.
Operating as novel proximity sensors, a multiple microphone array and face detection processing could enable a video conferencing camera and mic to focus on one of multiple users. The system could also conceivably adjust audio based on the environment. “For example, echo cancellation may be desired and/or affected by the size and acoustics of the room,” the description reads, meaning that a small, carpeted room could receive different audio output than a large room with hardwood floors. [via Patently Apple]
Apple is suspected of bribing Russian officials with a paid trip to London, according to a report from Russia. The company is alleged to have set up a week-long seminar for Russian regional ministers of education and other officials to learn more about Apple products, at a time when the government is about to award up to $66.5 million per region for equipment modernization. A representative from the National Anti-Corruption Committee said the matter should be investigated as if Apple completely financed the trip. Apple denies paying for the officials’ travel. [via Brightwire from Regnum]
An Apple patent application published today reveals a laser-based depth perception system that could be used to create a virtual keyboard. The system described in the patent would use an image capturing device and a laser source that would “emit a fan shaped laser beam” to capture depth.
A “projected control panel” is described as a possibility, as the system could create a virtual keyboard that would determine the depth of “a user’s finger, a stylus, or other input mechanism.” An autofocus camera feature would also be a possibility using this system. It’s noted that the technology could be implemented in a computer, tablet, or mobile device, and the iPhone is referred to specifically by name. [via Apple Insider]
Samsung did not willfully infringe Apple’s design and utility patents, Judge Lucy Koh ruled Tuesday night. In August, a jury ruled that the patents in question were infringed upon by Samsung, leading to a $1.05 billion fine for the company. Samsung argued that it believed Apple’s patents to be invalid, and as such, it couldn’t have infringed them willfully. The new ruling means that Apple won’t receive additional damages — the original fine could be reduced, but not necessarily. A bid for a new trial by Samsung was also rejected in the ruling. [via The Verge]
Apple’s share of the smartphone market is expected to peak at 22 percent this year, according to a Reuters report, and cellular carriers may be in a position to negotiate more competitive prices. The report details how the strength of other smartphone operating systems may loosen Apple’s grip on the overall market. “The more operating systems we have to compete in this area the better the competition,” said Fran Shammo, chief financial officer of Verizon Communications, noting that Apple’s iOS now confronts Android, Windows, and Blackberry as strong platforms. Reuters also notes that T-Mobile USA plans to stop subsidizing smartphones when it begins to sell the iPhone, and other carriers are considering follow suit. “That’s something we’ve looked at on several occasions. I kind of like that idea,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “It’s something we’re going to be watching.”
The report claims that a “less powerful Apple could be welcomed by telecommunications carriers and component suppliers that have grown accustomed to the tough terms Apple was able to exact thanks to its massive scale and leadership in the market.” Apple may already be anticipating the loss of subsidies and a future with lower-cost devices as it prepares a low-cost iPhone for release.
After over 80 years in the consumer electronics business, Philips announced Tuesday that it has sold the remainder of its consumer-focused electronics business to Japan’s Funai. Although Philips steadily reduced its involvement in consumer electronics, leaving its television and mobile phone divisions behind in recent years, the company suffered a fourth-quarter net loss of €358 Million (about $481 million).
Philips has had an interesting history with Apple. It originally sold products that challenged the iPod, including its GoGear series of media players. It then started to make iPod-friendly speaker systems, and later bought iPod/iPhone accessory maker DLO to become a major player in Apple accessories. The company developed quite a few distinctive speakers, eventually including some AirPlay models at widely varying price points, and continued to sell earphones and headphones. Funai will apparently continue to sell these products under its own brand.
Philips will now turn most of its attention to medical equipment, as healthcare sales made up 40 percent of the group’s revenue in the fourth quarter. Consumer lifestyle products accounted for 26 percent of the company’s fourth quarter revenue. [via Wall Street Journal]
Confirming reports, Apple has officially announced that a 128GB version of the fourth-generation iPad with Retina display will go on sale Tuesday, Feb. 5, in black or white. The Wi-Fi model will cost $799, and the Wi-Fi + Cellular model will cost $929. Apple is pitching the higher-capacity iPad primarily to “enterprises, educators and artists,” suggesting that its capacity will be useful for “over 300,000 native iPad apps.” This appears to be an acknowledgement that the iPad is becoming a viable alternative to laptops, and will be offered in capacities rivaling them.
Photos of a prototype back piece for the fifth-generation iPad have been leaked by a “purported China-based iPad accessories maker,” according to a new report. The photos show a smaller, thinner casing with chamfered edges and virtually no left or right bezel, confirming our exclusive report from last week.
The top of the backplate indicates that this is an LTE model. Our sources have said the fifth-generation iPad will launch in or near October. [via 9to5Mac]
Buried with asterisked footnotes in the press release announcing iOS 6.1, Apple today dramatically expanded international LTE support for the fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini debuted in November, while apparently leaving LTE support untouched in earlier third-generation iPads. An updated version of Apple’s iPad LTE support chart illustrates the now considerable network differences between 2012’s iPad versions, as well as another interesting change: the dual-mode CDMA/GSM iPads designed for Verizon and Sprint now offer considerably broader LTE support than the GSM-only iPad that is offered to AT&T and Canadian customers.
The GSM-only fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini gained only three carriers in today’s update: Canadian carriers MTS and Sasktel, plus Mexican carrier Telcel. By comparison, the dual-mode CDMA/GSM models sold for Verizon and Sprint today added support for Belgium’s Proximus, Denmark’s 3, Telenor, and Telia, Finland’s DNA, Elisa, and Sonera, Greece’s Cosmote, Hungary’s T-Mobile, Italy’s 3, TIM, and Vodafone, Luxembourg’s Orange and Tango, the Philippines’ Globe, Portugal’s Optimus, TMN, and Vodafone, Romania’s Orange, and Switzerland’s Swisscom. Notably, the CDMA/GSM iPads support five LTE bands—1, 3, 5, 13, and 25—while the GSM-only versions support two bands, 4 and 17. With today’s update, it’s increasingly clear that the GSM-only iPad models will be significantly less useful than the CDMA/GSM models for LTE outside of North America, though they can still operate on slower pre-LTE networks.
According to Apple’s iPad LTE support chart, the company did not add the same new LTE carrier support to the third-generation iPad, which was released in March of last year. The third-generation AT&T iPad featured the same LTE band 4 and 17 support as the fourth-generation model, but the CDMA version was apparently built specifically for Verizon’s network, with support only for band 13.
A mock-up page found on office supply company Staples’ website briefly advertised the Apple TV for half off, according to a new report, leading to speculation that the retail chain will start selling Apple products—most likely without such aggressive discounting. Other temporary product pages included references to adapters, Lightning adapters, EarPods, and iPad Smart Cases and Smart Covers.
Since the initial report, the test pages have apparently been removed by Staples, but screenshots show the mock-ups. Staples has not carried Apple’s product line, reportedly due to issues in acquiring products from Apple itself. [via 9to5Mac]
Speaker components from two upcoming iPhones have leaked, according to a new report.
While the report suggests that the parts are for the “iPhone 5S” and the “iPhone 6,” as shown in the included photo, there’s good reason to believe that the parts are for the iPhone 5S and lower-cost iPhone currently believed to be coming later this year. They show only modest changes from the current-generation iPhone 5 speaker, with the “iPhone 6” part noticeably thicker than the iPhone 5S component, consistent with reports that the less expensive iPhone will be thicker than the nearly identical-looking iPhone 5 and 5S. [via Nowhereelse.fr]
Apple is expected to release a 128GB version of the current fourth-generation iPad, according to a new report. Like the device released late last year, the iPad will come in both black and white options, and in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular versions. The report is based in part on new SKUs at a “high-profile U.S. retailer,” referring to an “ultimate” edition of the P101 and P103 iPads — internal Apple names for the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular editions of the fourth-generation iPad. Apple SKU descriptions of current products only refer to “good,” “better,” and “best,” which are the 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64GB models. No pricing information is known as of yet.
Further evidence pointing to a new 128 GB iPad is found within the code for iOS 6.1 beta 5, which was recently released to developers. The code contains a reference to a device with 128 GB capacity. iTunes 11 notably included a badge for a 128GB device, though none has yet been released. [via 9to5Mac]
Update: The 9to5Mac report has been updated with pricing information. The Wi-Fi model will cost $799, and the Wi-Fi + Cellular model will cost $929.
Apple has released its 2013 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, detailing audits the company has made within its supply chain. The company conducted 393 audits of its own, a 72 percent increase over 2011. Apple also notes it achieved “an average of 92 percent compliance with a maximum 60-hour work week.” The company is now tracking more than one million workers weekly.
According to Apple, a January audit of a supplier revealed 74 cases of workers under 16 — Apple then terminated its relationship with the supplier. The company also discovered that a labor agency conspired to forge age verification documents. Apple alerted provincial governments to the agency’s action, and the agency “had its business license suspended and was fined.” The full report is in PDF form on Apple’s website.
The famous October ruling that Samsung infringed four Apple patents will now be reviewed by the U.S. International Trade Commission, according to a new report. Noted as a possibility in previous reports, the ITC said it would review the findings — including “specific issues” with two of the patents found to be infringed. A final decision was scheduled for March 27, but it will be pushed back to a later date. [via Bloomberg]
Following the release of Apple’s Q1 results, the company’s stock dropped more than 10 percent in after-hours trading despite what the company said was its best quarter ever for revenues and net profits. Although Apple announced record sales of iPhones and iPads, sales of both Macs and iPods were down, based in part on limited availability of new iMacs, and possibly due to pricing of other models.
CEO Tim Cook has sent out an email announcing an internal Apple employee communications meeting for 10 a.m. Pacific today. Apple held a similar meeting after announcing last year’s Q1 results, and occasionally hints at upcoming plans during the talks, in which employees are encouraged to submit questions in advance. The meeting will be broadcast live throughout Cupertino and “at many other Apple locations.” [via 9to5Mac]
During Apple’s first quarter 2013 financial results conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer made a number of comments related to Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod businesses. The comments ranged from discussions of the iPhone 5 and iPad mini’s sales and manufacturing constraints, to continued iPad cannibalization of Mac computer sales, to the Apple TV.
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Reporting its first quarter 2013 financial results today, Apple said it sold 47.8 million iPhones in the quarter, a 29 percent increase year-over-year, and up considerably from 26.9 million units in the prior quarter. Apple sold 22.9 million iPads during the quarter, up 49 percent from the year-ago quarter and up 8.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012. Finally, the company said it sold 12.7 million iPods during the quarter — an 18 percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Unit sales of iPhones, iPads, and iPods bring the cumulative totals for the three device categories to 318.8 million, 120.98 million, and 369.08 million, respectively.
In what the company says was its best quarter ever for both revenues and net profits, Apple posted revenue of $54.45 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $46.33 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 per diluted share in Q1 2012. Revenue from iTunes/Software/Services—previously known as Other Music Related Products and Services—which includes revenue from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore, was $3.687 billion for the quarter, up 22 percent year-over-year and 5 percent from the prior quarter. It is being separated from revenues from Apple-branded and third-party iPod accessories, which accounted for $1.829 billion in the quarter, up 25% year over year and 46% over the prior quarter. Apple’s Board of Directors also declared a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of the Company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on February 14, 2013, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on February 11, 2013.
“We’re thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, suggesting that the company sold at least 4.3 million iPod touches in addition to the quarter’s 70.7 million iPads and iPhones. “We’re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world.”
“We’re pleased to have generated over $23 billion in cash flow from operations during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “We established new all-time quarterly records for iPhone and iPad sales, significantly broadened our ecosystem, and generated Apple’s highest quarterly revenue ever.
Verizon had a deal to make Siri available as a default app on Android phones before Apple moved in to buy the virtual assistant, a new report has revealed. Verizon signed a deal with the development team behind Siri in fall 2009, but when Apple bought Siri, the company insisted on making Siri exclusive to its own devices, and voided the Verizon deal. Under the prior contract, Siri would have been included on all Android phones launching in 2010, and Verizon even created commercials touting the new feature. The report, which deals with the history of Siri, also notes how Siri’s co-founders discussed the virtual assistant with Steve Jobs in his home prior to making the deal with Apple—saying that the company’s speech processing technology had cracked a long-time goal of Jobs and former Apple SVP Scott Forstall—among other notable details. [via Huffington Post]
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs threatened to file a patent lawsuit against Palm if the company didn’t agree to stop hiring Apple employees, a new court filing has confirmed. The filing is part of a civil lawsuit filed by workers against Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Disney’s Pixar, Intuit, and Lucasfilm, which claims the companies agreed not to recruit each other’s employees, in violation of laws designed to protect employees against restrictive hiring practices. In a statement, former Palm CEO Edward Colligan said that Jobs called him in August 2007 regarding Palm’s hiring of Apple employees. Jobs also sent an email advising Colligan to “take a look at our patent portfolio before you make a final decision here,” bullying that Colligan allegedly rebuffed based on its alleged illegality. The document suggests that Palm’s hiring of Apple employees for a new Jon Rubenstein project was Jobs’ primary concern; former Apple SVP Rubenstein went on to develop the Pre phone and TouchPad tablet for Palm and later owner HP. Other communications and internal documents, including no-hire lists, have also been revealed in the case. [via Reuters, The Verge]
Apple has been approved to open an online store in Indonesia by the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, according to a report. The store will be based in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, as Apple looks to expand its reach; with over 238 million people spread across a remarkable 17,500 islands, Indonesia is the world’s fourth-most populous country. Currently, the Apple Store’s Indonesia page directs to resellers and Apple Stores in other countries. It’s also noted in the report that Foxconn plans to build a manufacturing plant in Indonesia. [via NZweek]