As part of its announcement of iOS 6 today, Apple showed off a number of new features it is adding to Siri. In iOS 6, Siri will be able to launch apps, get sports scores and information, retrieve more information about restaurants and book reservations, tweet, and get movie listings. Under iOS 6, Siri will support a number of new countries and languages, and will support a new feature called Eyes Free, in which Apple has partnered with a number of auto manufacturers—including BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda—to include a steering wheel-mounted button that activates Siri without so much as lighting up the iPhone’s screen. Finally, Siri will also be available to users of the third-generation iPad under iOS 6.
As part of its WWDC Keynote Address this morning, Apple gave an update on the state of iOS. Through the end of March, Apple had sold 365 million iOS devices, 80% of which are running iOS 5. Push Notifications has seen widespread adoption, with 84 of the top 100 social apps using the service. 7 billion notifications are now sent per day, and over 1.5 trillion have been sent thus far. Game Center has also been adopted by many, with over 130 million Game Center accounts registered, 5 billion scores being posted every week, and adoption in 67 of the top 100 games. Finally, the Twitter integration in iOS 5 has led to 10 billion tweets sent from iOS 5 devices; iOS 5 devices now account for 47% of all images uploaded to the service.
Apple today announced iCloud Tabs, a new feature of iCloud that will enable automatic syncing of Safari tabs between Macs running OS X Mountain Lion and iOS devices. The feature was unveiled during a demonstration of Mountain Lion, which also discussed the arrival of Notes, Reminders, and Notification Center on the Mac, as well as Dictation, Airplay Mirroring, and Game Center, all of which were unveiled in February. Apple will release OS X Mountain Lion exclusively through the Mac App Store next month for $20.
During the company’s WWDC Keynote Address, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the crowd an update on the state of the App Store. Most notably, Cook said that there are now 400 million accounts on the App Store, with over 650,000 apps available—225,000 of which are coded specifically for the iPad. Overall, the App Store has now seen over 30 billion downloads, with over $5 billion paid out to developers. The App Store now operates in over 120 countries, and Apple is opening the store in 32 additional countries later this month, for a total of over 155 markets.
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion tomorrow, according to a new report. MacRumors claims that this year’s promotion will again involve iTunes Gift Cards for those purchasing new equipment. Students purchasing qualifying Macs will receive a $100 iTunes Gift Card, while those purchasing an iPad will receive a $50 Card. Notably, this is they first year in which those purchasing an iPad will be eligible to participate. While specifics were not available, Apple’s Back to School promotions have traditionally ended in September.
A photo taken during the raising of banners in preparation for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference has confirmed that the company will reveal iOS 6 at the event. 9to5Mac has posted the photo in a gallery of other shots showing the preparations; the iOS 6 logo is featured prominently, and has changed ever so slightly from the prior iOS 5 logo. Below the iOS 6 logo is the tagline “The world’s most advanced mobile operating system.” While it was widely assumed that Apple would announce the software at the event, it had yet to confirm as much, stating only that developers at the conference would “learn about the future of iOS”.
Apple has filed complaints against both Samsung and HTC seeking to block imports of the companies’ new smartphones. FOSS Patents reports that Apple’s new complaint against HTC is the third such complaint it has filed against the company with the International Trade Commission (ITC). Apple is claiming that HTC’s devices still infringe upon its “data tapping” patent, which HTC was found to infringe in last December; a total of 29 devices are targeted by the new complaint. It also filed a motion in its second California lawsuit against Samsung, seeking a preliminary injunction against the recently announced Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone, noting that the device “has been reported to be the most extensively preordered piece of consumer electronics in history.” Apple’s request is based on alleged infringement of both the aforementioned “data tapping” patent and a unified search patent, which is closely related to Siri; the Galaxy S III features an almost comically similar feature called “S Voice”.
Apple has started to hang banners in preparation for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. MacRumors has a picture of one such banner, which carries the slogan “Where great ideas go on to do great things.” WWDC 2012 will kick off Monday with a Keynote Address, and is being held at its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco.
Apple has quietly posted a new iOS Security guide (PDF Link) online. Seemingly aimed at businesses and other organizations considering the adoption of iOS devices, the 20-page document addresses several broad topics related to iOS security, including system architecture, encryption and data protection, network security, and device access. For those interested, the full document is available as a free download from the link above. [via MDN]
Apple has begun sending out e-mails to current and former MobileMe subscribers as a reminder of the service’s scheduled shutdown on June 30, 2012 and advising users to ensure that they download any Gallery photos and iDisk files and move any iWeb sites that are still hosted on the service before that date.
The subscription-based MobileMe service was replaced by the free iCloud service last fall with the release of iOS 5; at that time Apple announced the MobileMe sunset date of June 30, 2012, providing users with the option of migrating their MobileMe accounts over to iCloud at their own pace. Not all of MobileMe’s services were transitioned to iCloud, however, so users who migrated their MobileMe accounts to iCloud were allowed to continue using the Gallery, iDisk and web publishing services from their former MobileMe account up until the scheduled MobileMe shutdown date. An Apple support article provides additional guidance on saving content from the MobileMe service both for users who have already migrated to iCloud and for those who are unable to migrate to iCloud due to using non-iCloud-compatible devices.
The Verge reports that the European Telecommunications Standards Institute has adopted a proposal for a new nano-SIM format. The new design will be approximately 40 percent smaller than the existing micro-SIM format and will be packaged in a way designed to be backward-compatible with existing SIM card designs in much the same way that micro-SIM cards are currently distributed.
Today’s announcement follows several weeks of discussion and conflict between two major proposals for the new standard put forward by competing mobile groups; Motorola, Nokia and RIM had proposed their own design in opposition to a proposal made by Apple. Both designs were revised throughout the selection process with the resulting final designs now very similar to each other with exactly the same exterior dimensions. ETSI has not yet published the specifications for the new standard and has declined to comment on which group’s design was selected. [via Mac Rumors]
AllThingsD has posted a video of some of the highlights from Apple CEO Tim Cook’s on-stage interview last evening. During the interview, Cook discussed several large topics, including Apple post-Steve Jobs, the company’s TV efforts, Siri and potential upcoming features for the virtual assistant, the company’s Chinese manufacturing partners and work conditions at those factories, the tablet market and iPad’s potential, and the company’s ongoing patent disputes with various companies. Notably, Cook dodged repeated questions related to a potential HDTV business, hinted at potential Facebook integration on iOS, and suggested that the company will unveil several new features for Siri at its WWDC conference, which begins on June 11. The video is roughly 17 minutes in length and can be seen by visiting the above link.
iLounge has learned that Apple will soon offer the Nest Learning Thermostat for sale through the Apple Store, an interesting development given both Nest’s history and the types of products commonly sold by Apple. Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell is the former senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division, and is regarded by many as the “father of the iPod.” After leaving Apple for “personal reasons,” Fadell was replaced by Mark Papermaster, whose brief tenure at the company was marked by controversies; Fadell soon created Nest as a place to build intuitive and elegant in-home electronics informed by his experiences at Apple, and only recently expanded distribution to the large third-party retailer Lowe’s. The Nest Learning Thermostat will be sold at Apple Stores for $249, the same price as via Nest’s own online store.
Update: 9to5Mac reports that Apple retail stores have started to receive stock of the units, which carry the part number H9279LL/A in Apple’s systems. It remains unclear when the Learning Thermostats will go on sale; the report suggests that the product may not launch at all Apple retail stores simultaneously.
Update x2: Apple is now offering the Nest Learning Thermostat on its online store for $249.99.
Apple has made some minor but notable changes to its front page App Store listings. In place of the prior App of the Week listings are two new Editors’ Choice picks for both the iPhone and the iPad, which rotate in the top slot alongside traditional themed bundles of promoted apps—a number of apps dedicated to Dinosaurs is being highlighted this week, for instance. The App of the Week moniker is not being retired, however, as it is now being used further down the page to promote a Free App of the Week—this week, Cut the Rope: Experiments for the iPhone and Cut the Rope: Experiments HD for the iPad. [via The Verge]
Rogue Amoeba reports that Apple has removed its Airfoil Speakers Touch app from the App Store. In a post on the company’s blog, CEO Paul Kafasis states that the company was informed today that “Apple has removed Airfoil Speakers Touch from the iOS App Store” although he first heard about the decision from Apple two days ago and has been in ongoing discussions since then regarding the pending removal.
Kafasis goes on to indicate that he does not yet have any clear answer on why Apple has chosen this course of action, and that he believes Airfoil Speakers Touch is “in full compliance with Apple’s posted rules and developer agreements.” He also mentions that Rogue Amoeba had not submitted any new versions for approval recently, and that this removal is therefore not related to a pending review process, but rather concerns the existing version of Airfoil Speakers Touch that was approved and released in April. Notably, Rogue Amoeba went through a another issue with the App Store and Airfoil Speakers Touch 1.0.1 back in 2009 regarding the display of artwork representing the computer and source application from which audio was being streamed—images that were provided by Mac OS X itself, but were trademarked Apple images. Apple later reversed its policy on this issue, allowing Airfoil Speakers Touch 1.0.2 to reincorporate this functionality.
Kafasis indicates that the company has filed an appeal with Apple’s App Review Board and is presently awaiting further information. In the meantime, users who have already downloaded Airfoil Touch Speakers should be able to continue using the app.
Apple is continuing to reject charges that it conspired with publishers to fix the price of electronic books. Reuters reports that Apple has made a filing in U.S. District Court in which it argues against the Justice Department’s lawsuit and claims that it did not conspire with anyone or fix prices in an effort to undermine Amazon.com’s lead in the marketplace. “Apple’s entry into e-book distribution is classic procompetitive conduct” that helped to foster competition, Apple said in its filing. It added, “for Apple to be subject to hindsight legal attack for a business strategy well-recognized as perfectly proper sends the wrong message to the market. The government’s complaint against Apple is fundamentally flawed as a matter of fact and law.” Apple, along with Macmillan and Penguin, are continuing to fight the charges, while publishers HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette have all reached settlements.
Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive was knighted today at Buckingham Palace. According to an interview piece with the Telegraph, Ive was knighted for services to design and enterprise, and honor he described as “incredibly humbling.” During the interview, Ive also made several comments about his work at Apple. “We try to develop products that seem somehow inevitable. That leave you with the sense that that’s the only possible solution that makes sense,” Ive said. “Our products are tools and we don’t want design to get in the way. We’re trying to bring simplicity and clarity, we’re trying to order the products. I think subconsciously people are remarkably discerning. I think that they can sense care.”
Ive also made some comments about unreleased products. When asked if he was to be remembered for just one of his Apple designs, which one would he pick, Ive took a long pause, and responded, “It’s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we’re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done, and so it would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung are set to meet today in San Francisco for court-ordered talks. Reuters reports that the talks will be held in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood and will be overseen by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero. Based on comments made by a Samsung official over the weekend, it appears the company is not adverse to a settlement. “There is still a big gap in the patent war with Apple but we still have several negotiation options including cross-licensing,” said Samsung mobile division chief JK Shin. The talks are scheduled for today and tomorrow.
Foxconn is investing $210 million to build a new Apple production line in China, according to a new report. Citing local officials, China Daily reports that the line will be located in Huai’an city, in Jiangsu province. The office of Taiwan Affairs in Huai’an said that the plant housing the production line will produce components for Apple. The plant plans to hire over 35,000 employees; the article does not speculate on what types of components or products might be produced at the facility. [via Engadget]
Apple has announced that it plans to power its Maiden, NC data center using nothing but renewable energy. Reuters reports that Apple is building two solar array installations nearby, which will produce roughly 84 million kWh of energy annually, with a separate bio-gas fuel-cell plant to supply the rest of their energy needs. “I’m not aware of any other company producing energy onsite at this scale,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer. “The plan we are releasing today includes two solar farms and together they will be twice as big as we previously announced, thanks to the purchase of some land very near to the data center in Maiden, which will help us meet this goal.” Apple plans for the Maiden facility to be coal-free by the end of 2012.