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Apple granted patent for camera lens mount

A new Apple patent for bayonet attachment mechanisms may signal the company’s interest in using an attachable camera lens system in its iOS devices. The patent describes a system that would use a bayonet mount integrated into the camera of an electronic device — lenses could be swapped in and out of the mount.

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Patently Apple notes how quickly the patent was approved — the patent application was only published weeks ago — speculating that Apple may be looking to use the feature in the near future. An alleged leaked picture of the iPhone 6 shows the device with a protruding camera lens, but it’s unclear if any sort of mount system is included. Images in the patent document depict the fifth-generation iPod touch. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Q2 earnings call set for April 23

Apple has announced on its investor webpage that it will release its Q2 fiscal year earnings on Wednesday, April 23. As usual, the earnings will be released in a conference call starting at 5 p.m. ET. The company provided guidance of Q2 revenue between $42 billion and $44 billion in its Q1 revenue report.

iPhone 6 with 4.7” screen in fall, 5.5” model delayed?

Apple suppliers will start mass producing displays for the next iPhone “as early as May” for the next iPhone’s release this fall, Reuters reports. It’s reported that a 4.7” screen is “likely” to be produced first, but the rumored 5.5” version of the new iPhone could be delayed. According to a source, difficulties with in-cell production technology in the larger version of the phone prompted Apple to start mass production of the 4.7” version on its own. The 5.5” version of the new phone could enter production “several months later,” with a film sensor being used instead of in-cell technology.

TD-LTE iPad Air and iPad mini released in China

Apple announced TD-LTE models of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display are available in China, starting today. Although there were already existing iPad Air and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular models, these are the first new iPad models sold in China to support higher speeds. Prices for the TD-LTE iPad Air range from 4,488 RMB ($723) for 16GB, to 6,588 RMB ($1062) for 128 GB. TD-LTE iPad mini with Retina display prices range from 3,788 ($610) to 5,888 RMB ($949). It appears these new iPads represent the two new iPad models spotted in iOS 7.1, and will only be available on a regional basis.

Alleged iPhone 6 leaked pics show protruding camera

Alleged photos of the iPhone 6 have surfaced on Weibo. The pictures show a large phone that appears to have a metal frame in the middle, capped off on each end by D-shaped pieces with rounded edges. A protruding rear camera with a smaller, circular flash than the iPhone 5s can be spotted in the shots.

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Another photo reveals a computer rendering that appears to match recently seen drawings; the design is in some ways similar to the fifth-generation iPod touch, but with iPhone-like antenna compartments. The veracity of these photos — including any identification of which new alleged iPhone 6 model this may be — is unclear. [via G 4 Games]

Google’s Android key to latest Apple-Samsung trial

The latest Apple-Samsung trial is scheduled to start today, and both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal report that Google’s Android operating system will be in the crosshairs. While Samsung is claiming Apple violated two of its patents, Apple is seeking about $2 billion in damages for the violation of five of its own mobile software patents. Samsung claims that features from four of the affected patents were licensed as part of Android, which Google worked on before Apple filed the patents. If Apple wins, Google could have to make significant changes to Android. Apple is also seeking $40 per infringing Samsung device sold in the United States.

Report: Apple attempting to hire Swiss watchmakers

Apple is trying to lure top Swiss watchmakers away from their companies to work on the iWatch, the Financial Times reports. Jean-Claude Biver, president of LVMH’s watches and jewelry division, said Apple has tried to recruit staff from Hublot and parts manufacturers. “Apple has contacted some of my employees — I saw the emails personally,” he said, noting none of those employees accepted an offer from the Cupertino company. Apple declined comment.

Swatch chief executive Nick Hayek said his company has been contacted by “practically all players” in “smart wearables,” but said, “However, we see no reason why we should enter into any partnership agreement.” According to the report, Hayek seeks to “protect Swatch’s intellectual property advantages over tech rivals, including ergonomic design, longevity and battery life.”

iTunes credits sent out for e-book price fixing

Customers affected by Apple’s role in the e-book price fixing scandal are now receiving emails with iTunes credits. Though Apple is appealing the ruling, the company is still sending credits to customers. The emails are coming from the E-Book AG Settlement Administrator — not Apple — so customers should be sure to check their spam folders. Each email contains an iTunes Store credit activation code, and the credit will expire on April 1, 2015, if not activated. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple getting 30 percent of Office 365 in-app sales

Microsoft’s Office for iPad apps went on sale Thursday, and it’s been revealed that a cut of the Office 365 subscriptions sold within the apps are going to Apple. Apple confirmed that Microsoft is paying the customary 30 percent cut to Apple for in-app sales of the subscriptions, Re/code reports. Apple previously rejected a Microsoft SkyDrive update which offered storage subscriptions due to Microsoft’s disagreement on the 30 percent cut. Microsoft has now apparently acquiesced to Apple’s demands.

Microsoft also announced that it is offering free Office 365 subscriptions to the first 50 people who bring their iPad into Microsoft retail stores, starting today. The free subscriptions will last for one year. As noted in the fine print, customers must participate in Microsoft’s “Put My iPad to Work” social campaign to be eligible — whatever that is.

Apple patent may hint at sapphire touchscreens

A newly published patent application further hints at the possibility of sapphire displays in Apple products. The application for “oleophobic coating on sapphire” reveals a component that would feature a surface coating and transition layer on top of a sapphire glass base layer, which may be “a window for a portable electronic device.”

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A described method would allow fingerprint-repelling oleophobic coating to be used on top of the sapphire glass. It’s been reported that Apple’s new Arizona sapphire plant has the capacity for mass production, with some speculating new iPhone displays could be made of sapphire.[via AppleInsider]

Apple engineer shares details on iPhone creation

Apple senior software engineer Greg Christie has revealed a number of details about the birth of the iPhone to the Wall Street Journal. Christie and his team were struggling with the original iPhone’s software when Apple co-founder and then-CEO Steve Jobs told the group it had two weeks to figure it out, or it would lose the project to another team. Needless to say, the “shockingly small” team pulled through, creating features such as slide to unlock and placing calls from the phone’s address book. Christie was made available ahead of next Monday’s latest patent trial between Apple and Samsung — one patent Apple claims Samsung infringed upon is the slide to unlock feature. Among other details included in the article is a photo revealing a messy system used by Apple to test early iPhone software.

Apple working to add diversty to emoji

Apple is working on adding more diversity to the emoji keyboard character set, according to MTV Act. The website reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook about the lack of diversity in emoji, and received a response from Katie Cotton, Apple Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Communications: “Tim forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.” It’s unclear when such an emoji update could happen.

Former Delta VP joins Apple online retail

Bob Kupbens, former vice president of marketing and digital commerce at Delta Air Lines, has joined Apple. According to his LinkedIn page, Kupbens’ title is VP, Apple Online Retail. Advertising Age noted the title was unconfirmed, but regardless, Kupbens looks to play a large role in Apple’s online retail efforts. The news comes during a time of change for Apple retail, as Angela Ahrendts will soon take over as the company’s new head of retail as Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores.

Report: Apple sells 500 millionth iPhone

Apple has likely sold its 500 millionth iPhone during the past few weeks, Forbes estimates. There has yet to be an official announcement from Apple regarding the milestone; the company sometimes heralds large-scale sales in press releases, and at other times waits to mention them during media events.

Forbes notes that the most recent 100 million iPhones sold took “between two to six weeks less” than the previous 100 million. Apple sold 51 million iPhones alone in the first fiscal quarter of 2014, and added 1 million new users on China Mobile’s network in February following the Chinese carrier’s launch of the device.

Apple wins Japanese patent infringement ruling

Apple didn’t infringe on certain Samsung patents and won’t have to pay damages in a Japanese court ruling, Bloomberg reports. A Tokyo District Court ruled the iPhone 4, 4s, and iPad 2 don’t infringe on Samsung data communication patents. Samsung expressed their disappointment with the decision and noted that the company may appeal the ruling. Apple’s U.S. multi-patent battle with Samsung is scheduled to resume next week.

UK digital download taxes could increase in 2015

Digital downloads including App Store and iTunes purchases are due to see a tax increase in the U.K. under new laws next year, The Guardian reports. A new budget would force Apple and others to charge a 20 percent tax rate on such downloads. The budget closes a tax loophole that currently allows digital downloads to be taxed through other countries, with the tax rate sometimes dropping as low as three percent. Barring any changes, the new law is set to go into effect January 1, 2015.

WSJ: Apple talking with Comcast about streaming TV

Apple is talking with Comcast about working together on a streaming television service that would use an Apple set-top box like Apple TV, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal would use Comcast’s cables to bypass web congestion, sources said. Using Comcast as a partner would, ideally, prevent buffering and other service issues that often plague streaming web video. Apple seeks to let users stream live and on-demand TV shows stored in the cloud, thus replacing a traditional cable box.

The report claims that at the moment, Apple and Comcast “aren’t close” to an agreement. Comcast would have to make “significant investments” in network equipment and other technology, while the two companies seem to disagree on which would control customer data — Apple wants people to sign on to the device using its Apple IDs, and the company is asking for a cut of the monthly subscription fees paid by customers. It’s noted that Apple was working on a deal with Time Warner Cable since mid-2012; Comcast’s deal to acquire Time Warner is currently being reviewed by regulators.

Report: Apple to launch Spotify rival, iTunes Android app?

Apple has “opened exploratory talks” with record executives about creating an on-demand music streaming service, à la Spotify, and the company is also considering making an iTunes app for Android, Billboard reports. The discussions are reportedly part of a strategy to help Apple cope with declining downloads in the iTunes Music Store. “They are feeling out some people at labels on thoughts about transitioning its customers from iTunes proper to a streaming service,” a major label source said. “So when you buy a song for $1.29, and you put it in your library, iTunes might send an e-mail pointing out that for a total of, say, $8 a month you can access that song plus all the music in the iTunes store. It’s all in the ‘what if’ stage.” Such a streaming service could be a standalone app. An iTunes spokesman declined comment.

The report also notes Apple is trying to stimulate more download sales by pushing catalog titles. iTunes executives have asked labels to clean up catalogs of their top 100 selling artists to prevent multiple copies of albums and redundant compilations from showing up in the store, with the hopes of reducing the available number of compilations for each artist to a more manageable number.

Hacked EA game site phishing for Apple IDs

An EA Games server is hosting a phishing site that’s asking for Apple IDs, passwords, and credit card information, according to anti-fraud Internet services company Netcraft. Two websites in the ea.com domain use the compromised server, which redirects users to the actual Apple ID website after entering their confidential information. It’s possible that hackers accessed the site using vulnerabilities in an outdated version of WebCalendar 1.2.0 software. Netcraft notes that it informed EA of the hack, but the server and content is still online. [via CNET UK]

Apple CEO Cook slams new ‘Haunted Empire’ book

Apple CEO Tim Cook has issued a strongly-worded statement slamming “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs,” a new book by former Wall Street Journal technology reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane. Cook said in a statement to CNBC, “This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company. Apple has over 85,000 employees that come to work each day to do their best work, to create the world’s best products, to put their mark in the universe and leave it better than they found it. This has been the heart of Apple from day one and will remain at the heart for decades to come. I am very confident about our future.”

Critically panned by most early reviewers, Kane’s book is based on 200 interviews with current and former executives, business partners, and others on the post-Steve Jobs era at Apple. The book’s description notes that Haunted Empire “reveals the perils and opportunities an iconic company faces when it loses its visionary leader.”

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