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Apple granted system-on-chip shrinking patent

Apple has been granted a new patent for reducing the size of system-on-chip architectures found in Apple devices. U.S. Patent 8,334,704 notes that a computer system’s vital components — such as a processor and memory — can be fabricated onto a single microchip, shrinking what would otherwise be a large printed circuit board full of components down to a tinier size. The patent appears to be focused on coupling processors with flash memory, while providing testing options for both, and was likely filed to protect Apple’s A-series mobile processors. [via Apple Insider]

Samsung: U.S. ban dodged, retrial denied, Euro truce?

Apple has been denied a bid to ban 26 Samsung products from sale in the U.S, stemming from an August ruling in which Samsung was found to violate Apple patents. Judge Lucy Koh ruled that a sales ban would be too broad. “The phones at issue in this case contain a broad range of features, only a small fraction of which are covered by Apple’s patents,” Koh wrote. “Though Apple does have some interest in retaining certain features as exclusive to Apple, it does not follow that entire products must be forever banned from the market because they incorporate, among their myriad features, a few narrow protected functions.” Koh also noted that many of the devices targeted by Apple for the ban are no longer on sale.

Samsung, however, has been denied its request for dismissal and a new trial based on jury misconduct allegations. While Samsung alleged the Apple trial was tainted due to the juror misconduct related to jury foreman Velvin Hogan’s involvement with Seagate — Samsung acquired Seagate’s HDD division late last year — Koh disagreed. Koh determined Samsung could have resolved its concerns and issues prior to trial by exercising “reasonable diligence” in questioning Hogan.

Meanwhile, Samsung has announced it will drop injunction requests against Apple for standard essential patent infringement in Germany, France, Italy, the U.K., and the Netherlands. It’s unclear at this point if Samsung has reached some kind of truce with Apple — at least in Europe — or if this will lead to less litigation down the line. [via CNET, The Verge]

Apple granted key multi-touch patent

Apple has received a patent from the US Patent Office regarding multi-touch contact. The patent, which covers apparatus and methods for tracking finger and palm contact “across a proximity-sensing, multi-touch surface,” was vital to the iPhone. It was initially filed on Nov. 14, 2006, before the iPhone’s release in 2007. Apple gained the patent upon acquiring gesture recognition company Fingerworks in 2005. [via Patently Apple]

Apple talking with Foursquare about map data

Apple is discussing integrating local data from Foursquare into its Maps application, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to the report, Apple has talked to “a number of companies that collect local data” as the company works to improve Maps; iOS 6 Maps already includes local data from Yelp, but has been criticized for both errors and omissions in the point of interest data. Apple Senior VP Eddy Cue is said to be involved in the discussions.

Apple releases software update 1.0.2 for 7th-gen iPod nano

Apple has released a new software update for the seventh-generation iPod nano. Version 1.0.2 of the iPod nano (7th generation) software reportedly addresses issues with EQ and microphone support with the Apple In-Ear Headphones and makes Bluetooth improvements, tweaks that are obscure enough to be non-obvious in initial testing. The update is available by connecting the iPod nano to iTunes via a USB connection and selecting the Check for Updates option in the iPod summary screen.

Google Maps gets 10M downloads in first two days

Google has announced that Google Maps for iOS was downloaded more than 10 million times less than 48 hours after its release last Thursday. As became obvious from the App Store’s top downloads list, Google Maps became the top free app on iPhone only hours after its release, and continues to occupy the top spot as of this writing. Apple executives are said to be “seething,” as noted last week by Daring Fireball, due to both the immediate success of the well-reviewed mapping application and the troubled launch of iOS 6’s new Apple-developed Maps application, which reportedly led to the dismissals of two of the company’s software chiefs.

Apple releases iOS 6.1 beta 4 to developers

Apple has seeded developers with iOS 6.1 beta 4. The update is available to registered iOS developers as an over-the-air software update, for those with iOS 6.1 beta already installed. It is unclear what changes may be contained in the release. A new Apple TV beta and a new preview of Xcode 4.6 have also been seeded to developers. [via 9to5Mac]

China’s “first weekend” of iPhone 5 sales top 2M

In an extremely rare foreign country-specific press release, Apple announced sales of more than two million iPhone 5s in China during its first launch weekend. The phone was officially launched in the Chinese mainland on Dec. 14, having been available for sale in Hong Kong since September. “Customer response to iPhone 5 in China has been incredible, setting a new record with the best first weekend sales ever in China,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “China is a very important market for us and customers there cannot wait to get their hands on Apple products.” iPhone 5 will be available in more than 100 countries by the end of the year; speculation regarding weak or slow mainland Chinese sales may have spurred the company to disclose early figures.

Jury finds no Apple infringement on Alcatel-Lucent patents

In the latest of many patent trials, a jury has ruled that Apple didn’t infringe on three video-compression technology patents of Multimedia Patent Trust, an Alcatel-Lucent subsidiary, Bloomberg reports. Alcatel-Lucent sought $172.3 million in royalty damages from Apple, and $9.1 million from LG Electronics. The trial started recently, in late November. This is better patent trial news for Apple then Thursday’s other ruling, which found the iPhone infringes on three patents from MobileMedia Ideas.

Apple releases iTunes 11.0.1, adds duplicate display

Apple has released iTunes 11.0.1, which restores the ability to display duplicate items within a user’s iTunes library. The update also fixes an issue where new purchases in iCloud may not appear in a user’s library if iTunes Match is turned on, makes searching a large library more responsive, and fixes a problem where the AirPlay button may not appear. Other stability and performance improvements are also included in the update.

Apple expands System Status site for disruption info

Apple has launched an expanded System Status page on its support website that clearly illustrates whether individual services and stores are operating normally or experiencing issues. The issues are broken down on a detailed timeline that shows when services may have been disrupted, and how many users may have been affected by the problem. For instance, the timeline shows that iCloud Mail and numerous other iCloud services experienced issues this afternoon. A link is also included for users who are experiencing issues not noted on the page. [via The Next Web]

Apple releases its ‘Best of 2012’ on iTunes

Apple has released its “Best of 2012” list for iTunes. The lists highlight Apple’s 2012 favorites in music, movies, TV, apps, books, and podcasts. In the App Store, Action Movie FX was selected as iPhone App of the Year, with Rayman Jungle Run as iPhone Game of the Year; Paper was named Apple’s iPad App of the Year, while iPad Game of the Year was The Room. Numerous runners up and “editors’ choices” were listed alongside the winners.

iPhone found to infringe three MobileMedia patents

Apple’s iPhone has been found to infringe three patents from MobileMedia Ideas, according to a Bloomberg News tweet. A U.S. court made the ruling today. The patents are related to automatic screen rotation, Apple Insider reports.  Apple attempted to persuade the court to dismiss the case last month, but was denied. MobileMedia Ideas, which is jointly owned by Sony, Nokia, and MPEG LA, owns “more than 300 patents worldwide,” according to its website.

Apple patent reveals advanced call waiting system

A new Apple patent published today reveals a new way for a phone to handle incoming calls. Titled “Dynamic context-based auto-response generation,” the patent is a step forward from the call waiting features of iOS6, offering the possibility of answering calls with a pre-recorded message based on caller ID or other attributes.

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Another scenario also allows users to manually select an option to answer the call, send it to voice mail, or place it on hold, and the user can enter an estimated hold time for the call, which can be announced to the caller. The patent also describes a method for converting voice mail messages to text. [via Apple Insider]

Report: Apple mulls upstate NY for manufacturing

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “seemed to acknowledge” on a radio show that Apple may be behind a plan to build a 3.2-million square-foot computer chip factory in upstate New York, the Times Union (Albany) reports. The plan has allegedly been pitched to state economic development officials, but not further made public by the company. Cuomo was asked about speculation involving Apple’s interest in the state for a manufacturing site, and he didn’t shy away from mentioning the company by name. “Well, we’re shopping a lot of different companies at any given time,” Cuomo said. “Apple has a lot of competition, obviously, for their location. I don’t think that they’re anywhere yet in the decision-making.” The Times Union reports the “top-secret Apple customer” — possibly Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. — has scouted sites in upstate NY. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently announced the company would bring some Mac production to the U.S. next year; the company will invest more than $100-million in the expansion. [via Apple Insider]

Google’s Schmidt: Android winning mobile war over Apple

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt compared Android’s growing lead over Apple in mobile software to Microsoft’s software rise in the 1990s, in a Bloomberg Businessweek interview. “This is a huge platform change; this is of the scale of 20 years ago — Microsoft versus Apple,” Schmidt said. “We’re winning that war pretty clearly now.” Android took 72 percent of the market in the third quarter, to Apple’s 14 percent, according to technology research company Gartner, Inc. However, those numbers belie the two companies’ differing business models when it comes to mobile software, as Google gives away its Android operating system to numerous third-party hardware developers, while Apple limits iOS to its own products.

Report: Apple now testing multiple TV designs

Apple is currently testing several TV set designs, “people familiar with the situation said,” according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal. The company is working with Asian component suppliers on a large, high-resolution TV, as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. and Sharp have been collaborating on the design, according to sources. “It isn’t a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing,” a source said. The report claims Apple has been testing TV prototypes “for a number of years;” however, it dovetails with statements made by Apple CEO Tim Cook to “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” in which he called TV “an area of intense interest” for Apple.

FTC criticizes kids’ apps privacy practices

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report criticizing the privacy practices of the makers of kids apps in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. Titled “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade,” the FTC report found almost 60 percent of 400 popular kids apps transmitted device information to the developer or another third party, such as an advertising network. Only 20 percent of the apps reviewed disclosed any information regarding privacy practices. Also, 17 percent of apps reviewed offered the ability to purchase virtual goods within the app — with in-app purchases ranging from 99 cents to $29.99 in the App Store. “The results of the survey are disappointing,” the report reads. “Industry appears to have made little or no progress in improving its disclosures since the first kids’ app survey was conducted, and the new survey confirms that undisclosed sharing is occurring on a frequent basis.” The FTC’s previous report was issued in February.

The report’s conclusion calls on everyone involved in the app marketplace to develop accurate disclosures regarding shared data. It also notes that “FTC staff has initiated a number of investigations to address the gaps between company practices and disclosures. These discrepancies could constitute violations of COPPA or the FTC Act’s prohibition against unfair or deceptive practices.” [via The Wall Street Journal]

Report: Apple rejects Microsoft SkyDrive updates over 30% cut

Apple has refused to approve an update by Microsoft to its SkyDrive iOS app after the company began offering additional storage subscriptions, according to a report from The Next Web. Microsoft found a recent update to its SkyDrive iOS app rejected by Apple after enabling users of the cloud file-sharing service to purchase more storage space. The report notes that “Microsoft does not appear keen to pay Apple the 30% cut, as it lasts in perpetuity, regardless of whether a user continues to use an iOS device or not, as the billing is through their Apple account;” however, users should be able to cancel App Store-based subscriptions at any time and subscribe through other means. Microsoft has apparently offered to remove all subscription options on the app, but this compromise has not been accepted by Apple.

Since launching in-app subscription services in early 2011, Apple has required developers to use its own In-App Purchasing system for any subscription or content purchases that are accessible from an iOS application. Although companies have traditionally been free to offer their subscription services via other means such as a web site, these cannot be available or advertised within an iOS app unless Apple’s IAP system is being used, for which Apple takes a 30% share of subscription fees.

Notably, this issue also appears to affecting Apple’s approvals of third-party applications that integrate with SkyDrive. While the exact reasons for this are unclear at this time, a similar situation occurred with popular cloud-sharing service Dropbox several months ago, with the problem ultimately being traced to the appearance of subscription purchasing links in the web pages used to log in to the service.

Apple’s ‘Steve Jobs patent’ tentatively ruled invalid

The United States Patent & Trademark Office has ruled an Apple multitouch patent — commonly referred to as “the Steve Jobs patent” — as invalid on a non-final basis. All 20 claims of U.S. Patent 7,479,949 were rejected in a first Office action, a preliminary ruling that suggests a patent can be invalidated in the future, though it is being left in effect pending a final determination. The patent is for a “Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics.” This notably follows an October reexamination of Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent for a bounce back effect when scrolling, which similarly concluded on a preliminary basis that all claims would be invalidated. These patents have been at the heart of Apple lawsuits against rivals, and if found invalid would significantly damage the Cupertino company’s litigation positions. [via FOSS Patents]

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