More alleged next-generation iPhone photos appearing on Apple.pro over the weekend have revealed the presence of a previously unseen square chip near the top of the new iPhone design, believed to be the first confirmation of previously rumored near-field communication (NFC) hardware in Apple’s next-generation iPhone. While the actual functions of the chip are not clear from the photos, software support for NFC was discovered in June by 9to5Mac in code dumps taken from iPhone prototype hardware, and the location of the new chip corresponds to diagrams in Apple’s iWallet patent from May of 2010. NFC capabilities would enable the new iPhone to serve as a virtual wallet, communicating with wireless payment terminals at stores to transfer stored value, rather than requiring users to carry separate credit cards. The feature would likely tie into Passbook, a new addition to iOS 6 that holds tickets and other virtual proof of payment documents for iPhone users.
Updated August 28, 2012: Following an Anandtech analysis concluding that NFC would not be in the new iPhone, Apple-sourced blogger Jim Dalrymple appeared to confirm the analysis as correct. [via MacRumors]
Following several days of deliberations in the Apple vs. Samsung trial, the jury reached verdicts on a number of design and utility patent infringement allegations brought against Samsung by Apple, finding numerous violations by Samsung. The jury also found that Apple possessed certain trade dress rights in the iPhone—namely, that certain elements of iPhone designs were famous and protectable—and were diluted by some of Samsung’s products. Other asserted iPhone and iPad trade dress rights were not found to be famous or protectable.
The jury was specifically asked to determine whether Samsung had infringed a number of different Apple patents across a wide collection of different Samsung devices, and given a questionnaire to answer “yes” or “no” for each Apple patent on each Samsung device. While not every Samsung device was found to have infringed all of Apple’s patents, multiple Samsung devices were found to be infringing on one or more patents. Moreover, a number of Samsung’s infringements were determined to be willful—not accidental—subjecting the company to higher penalties. The jury also said that Samsung had failed to demonstrate that Apple’s patents were invalid, a possible defense, and found that Apple had not violated a number of Samsung patents, contrary to claims by Samsung.
Reports varied on whether Apple had also prevailed on an antitrust claim against Samsung. According to an initial report by CNET, the jury found that Samsung had unlawfully monopolized markets related to the UMTS standard, while finding that Apple had not violated antitrust laws on UMTS.
Although an early report suggested that Samsung would be liable for roughly $2.5-billion in damages for infringements in various products, the judge clarified that total damages assessed against Samsung were in the $1.05-billion range, and due to the large number of infringing Samsung products, the numbers apparently had to be re-checked after the verdict was read. As Apple was not found responsible for any violations of Samsung patents, no damages were assessed against the Cupertino company. [via CNET]
In addition to seeking damages for these violations, Apple has attempted to block sales of allegedly infringing Samsung devices, a decision that is being left to the judge in this case. Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously noted that the company had sought patent protection for all of the inventions embodied in the iPhone, and patents have subsequently been granted on numerous aspects of the iPhone, as well as later devices such as the iPod touch and iPad. Current Apple CEO Tim Cook has signaled that the company will in some cases license patents, while in other cases reserving the inventions to Apple for its own products, and suing companies that infringe.
Following the verdict, Apple’s and Samsung’s public relations teams each issued statements, with Apple praising the jury for listening to a story it was “thrilled” to “finally” tell regarding Samsung’s copying of Apple’s products, and Samsung suggesting that the “verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer,” as Apple had patented obvious concepts that “will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices.”
A South Korean court has ruled that Apple and Samsung both infringed on each other’s patents, the New York Times reports. As a result of the rulings, the Seoul Central District Court ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, original iPad, and iPad 2 in South Korea, claiming that they infringed two of Samsung’s patents. Likewise, the court banned sales of the Galaxy S2 and other products for infringing upon one of Apple’s patents. Notably, the two companies’ most recent products, including the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S3 smartphones, were unaffected by the ruling. In addition to the sales bans, Samsung must pay Apple about $22,000, while Apple must pay Samsung roughly $35,000.
Apple has started to roll out new Dock Connectors for its iPhone, iPad, and iPod displays that double as security locks, according to a new report. Citing a reader report that was subsequently confirmed by a number of Apple Store locations, AppleInsider reports that the cable may be in short supply, as not every device has one—they are primarily being used for third-generation iPads and products near the stores’ entrances—and not all stores have started to use them. The cable itself is very similar in appearance to a standard Dock Connector cable, only with a lock icon on the top, and new internals that prevent the unit from disengaging.
Apple is seeking additional table space for iPad displays in the shops of Apple Premium Resellers in Europe, according to a new report. Citing multiple resellers, MacRumors reports that Apple has requested that the shops set aside additional table space for iPad displays over the next few weeks. One source reportedly cited September 12—the same day Apple is expected to hold its next media event—as the Apple-imposed deadline for the changes to be made, while another source said their store is already in the process of tripling the amount of display space dedicated to the iPad. The extra space is coming primarily at the expense of Mac Pro and Mac mini computers, which are reportedly being removed from display entirely, while iPod and headphone displays are also being trimmed back. While the exact reason for the change isn’t clear, the September 12 date suggests that the move has something to do with Apple’s media event, at which it is expected to introduce the next-generation iPhone and could also unveil the long-rumored “iPad mini”.
The Fair Labor Association has published a status report on implementation of its recommendations following its assessment of three Foxconn facilities in February and March. According to the group, the review covered items slated for April and May, finding that Foxconn has completed all of the 195 actions that were due. In addition, 89 items were completed ahead of their deadlines, with 76 items due over the course of the next year. The report also found that Foxconn has already reduced working hours to under 60 per week—including overtime—with the goal of reaching full compliance with the Chinese legal limit of 40 hours per week plus an average of 9 hours of overtime per week.
“Our verification shows that the necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, have been made. We are satisfied that Apple has done its due diligence thus far to hold Foxconn accountable for complying with the action plan, including the commitment to reform its internship program,” said Auret van Heerden, President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association. “The next phase of improvements will be challenging for Foxconn because they involve major changes in the working environment that will inevitably cause uncertainty and anxiety among workers. As Foxconn prepares to comply with the Chinese legal limits on work hours, consultation with workers on the changes and implications will be critical to a successful transition.”
“The verification confirmed that Apple and Foxconn are ahead of schedule in improving the conditions under which some of the world’s most popular electronics are being made,” added van Heerden. “Apple and Foxconn’s progress since the March assessment, combined with the additional actions planned through July 2013, would create the roadmap for all Chinese suppliers in the tech industry.” Apple was the first electronics company to join the FLA, a “coalition of universities, non-governmental organizations and businesses committed to improving the well-being, safety, fair treatment, and respect of workers”, in January of 2012.
Free Press has started a new petition aimed at getting the FCC to force AT&T to change its policies regarding FaceTime over Cellular. The feature, which is part of iOS 6, allows users to participate in FaceTime video calls over cellular networks; AT&T has said that the feature will only be available to customers on the company’s new Mobile Share plans. “Dear FCC Commissioners,” the petition reads, “AT&T just announced it’s blocking the FaceTime video calling app on its customers’ iPhones unless they subscribe to a more expensive text-and-voice plan.”
It continues, “[t]his is a clear violation of Net Neutrality and of your own Open Internet rules. AT&T knows that if it can get the FCC to condone this kind of Net Neutrality violation, then they can get away with just about anything. I urge you to put a stop to AT&T’s anti-consumer and anti-Net Neutrality actions.”
Apple is planning to begin direct sales of its products in Russia, according to a new report. Citing Russian-language Kommersant, the Moscow News reports that Apple has registered a new company name, Apple Rus, and has assigned local legal advisor Vitaly Morozko to act as its director general. According to an unnamed manager of an Apple distributor, direct sales in the country could start as early as next year, although there seems to be no timetable for opening a retail store. The report notes that Apple managers travelled to Moscow in search of a potential retail store location in 2011, but came away empty.
Google’s Motorola Mobility unit has filed a new patent-infringement complaint against Apple. Bloomberg reports that the suit claims that certain features on some Apple devices, including the virtual assistant Siri, infringe its patents. The complaint, filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), alleges that Apple’s products infringe on seven Motorola Mobility patents, including location reminders, email notification, and phone/video players. “We would like to settle these patent matters, but Apple’s unwillingness to work out a license leaves us little choice but to defend ourselves and our engineers’ innovations,” Motorola Mobility said in a statement. The complaint seeks a ban on U.S. imports of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers.
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 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 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.
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’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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.