Apple has reached a deal with Prineville and Crook County, Oregon to move ahead with its new data center there. According to the Associated Press, Apple has agreed to pay local governments $150,000 a year and will get a 15-year property tax exemption for the new data center. In addition, Apple has also committed to a minimum of 35 jobs at the data center, wages that are at least 150 percent of the county’s average wage, and an investment of at least $250 million across its 160 acres of land.
Apple is testing a new system which would automatically backup the device of any customer seeking an iOS device exchange or replacement at an Apple Store Genius Bar, according to a new report. Citing retail sources, 9to5Mac reports that the system is based on a wireless server that would securely and temporarily store a user’s content locally, then automatically wipe the content once the device swap is made. The report indicates that this backup information could come from iCloud or the device itself, and that this solution is preferable to simply relying on an iCloud backup as the process of restoring from an iCloud backup is typically takes too long. The system is said to be in the very early stages of testing, and should it launch, Apple is planning to pilot the system in a few select store by mid-2013, with a full-scale launch coming later that year.
Apple has released Configurator 1.0.1, the latest version of its mass deployment tool for iOS devices. Originally debuted in March, Configurator enables schools, businesses, and other institutions to configure up to 30 iOS devices at a time, update software, create and restore backups of settings and app data, and more. According to the release notes, version 1.0.1 improves overall stability and performance, and address a number of issues, including those related to the import and installation of .ipa files, redemption codes, note and bookmark deletion, WPA2 passwords, and backup name editing. Apple Configurator 1.0.1 is available now as a free download from the Mac App Store. [via MDN]
Apple and Samsung have agreed to meet for a Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference in an effort to resolve their ongoing patent disputes. FOSS Patents reports that the talks will be held in San Francisco and will include Apple CEO Tim Cook and general counsel Bruce Sewell, as well as Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi and Sewell’s counterpart at the South Korean company. The talks will be overseen by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero; as noted in the report, the court can obligate the two companies to meet and talk, but can’t force a settlement.
Zane Rowe, executive vice president and Chief Financial Officer for United Continental—owner of United Airlines—is leaving his position to become a vice president of sales at Apple. “We are thrilled that Zane Rowe will be joining us as one of our vice presidents of sales,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told AllThingsD. “He built a great team at United and we think he is going to do a fantastic job at Apple.” Rowe has served as United’s CFO since October 2010, according to the report.
Apple has released an update to its iBooks application intended to address an issue that was causing the iTunes Store sign-on prompt to appear at unexpected times for some iOS users; the somewhat random prompts were often, but not exclusively, connected to automatic downloads of new content purchased on other devices. iBooks 2.1.1 addresses this issue, noting that users will need to open iBooks at least once after downloading the update. The new version also contains some minor stability and performance improvements. iBooks 2.1.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has updated its Cards iOS app with several new card designs. Cards allows iPhone and iPod touch users to create professionally printed physical letterpress cards from their device with custom photos and text that can then be mailed out for delivery to the recipient via the U.S. Postal Service. Cards 1.1 adds new categories for Mother’s Day and Get Well card designs along with additional card templates in existing categories such as birthday and thank you cards. The update also improves the accuracy of envelope address verification and simplifies the checkout process. Cards 1.1 requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. Individual cards are paid for via in-app purchase at $3 for mailing within the U.S. or $5 for international recipients.
A potential pilot of a new Apple store-within-a-store concept has been spotted at an Arkansas Walmart. IfoAppleStore reports that the new displays are inside a Walmart located just 20 minutes from the retailing giant’s headquarters, and could be a prototype for the rumored expansion of in-store Apple displays to Walmart’s warehouse chain Sam’s Club. The displays themselves feature tall, double-sided back-lit graphics promoting the iPad and the iPhone, as well as black frames and shelves, light wood tables, live display products, and under-table storage with security glass. The product displays themselves bear a great resemblance to those seen in Apple’s retail stores, albeit with more strict security measures. It is unclear when—or if—the concept will see a wider rollout across Walmart or Sam’s Club stores.
Renowned industrial designer Philippe Starck has suggested that he has worked with Apple on a major upcoming product, according to a Le Figaro report (Translated Link). Speaking on the radio program France Info, Starck said that he has been working with Apple on a “revolutionary” product that will be launched in the next eight months, without going into details. Though Starck is perhaps best known within the Apple world for his collaborations on third-party accessories, including iPod-docking speakers from Parrot, a unique iOS device-docking lamp from F’los, and a line of external Mac-compatible hard drives from LaCie, he has become internationally famous for fashion-forward products and architectural endeavors, including the designs of hotels, restaurants, and public spaces.
Starck said in the interview that he met regularly with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to talk, noting in a roughly translated quote that “[f]or seven years I came to see him once a month in Palo Alto and elsewhere Monday I go there, because even though he is dead, now I will see his wife. We liked to talk all things interesting.” [via MacRumors | Mac4Ever]
Update: In a statement to AllThingsD, Apple has denied that it is working on a project with Starck; the report suggests that the designer is instead involved with the design of the Jobs’ yacht.
A German regional court has upheld a ban on push emails delivered by Apple’s iCloud and MobileMe services, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The Mannheim regional court backed an earlier decision that barred Apple from offering the service in Germany on devices that were part of a patent dispute brought by Motorola Mobility. The court also held Apple liable for damages which must be paid to Motorola, although no amount was specified. A decision on a separate dispute between the two companies related to mobile communications standards was adjourned, with no date given for an expected ruling.
Apple has issued a statement on the matter of the antitrust lawsuit filed against itself and several major book publishers earlier this week. “The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true”, Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD. “The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.”
Apple is reportedly starting to require additional security information when using an Apple ID for purchases. The Next Web reports that Apple is prompting some users to confirm their password, add a backup email address, and create a number of new security questions that will be used to verify user identity in the future. According to the report, Apple is sending out an email to the new backup address once the process has been completed, thanking the user for adding the information, and asking them to click on a link to verify their address by clicking a link in the email. The prompt is apparently appearing when attempting to buy media directly on a device or via iTunes; notably, no iLounge editor has yet encountered the prompt, suggesting that Apple is rolling out the new security features slowly.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a price-fixing antitrust lawsuit against Apple and Hachette in New York district court. Bloomberg reports that the suit revolves around alleged collusion to raise the prices of eBooks, and that Harper Collins, Macmillan, and Penguin were also sued. The DOJ warned Apple and the publishers in early March of plans to file the suit; several of the parties reportedly held negotiations in hopes of settling the case; Apple may face similar charges in Europe, thanks to a European Union investigation into the same matter.
Update: the Department of Justice has since announced that Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have agreed to settle charges in the antitrust lawsuit, pending approval by a New York federal court, according to a Cnet report.
Apple earlier this morning quietly replaced the online Apple Store’s downtime sign, according to AppleInsider. Long known for its “We’ll be back soon” yellow sticky note, which was joined by the text “We are busy updating the store for you and will be back shortly”, the old sign has been replaced by a more modern looking rounded square note with a textured white background and a gray Apple logo, with the text “We’ll be back. We’re busy updating the Apple Store for you and will be back soon.” The placeholder frequently appears in early morning hours when Apple is doing routine maintenance to the site, as well as during Apple media events where new products are announced.
AllThingsD has announced that Apple CEO Tim Cook will be the opening-night speaker at the 10th D: All Things Digital conference. As noted in the announcement, it will be Cook’s first appearance at the conference; late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs made several appearances at the conference, the last of which was in 2010 at D8. “We are looking forward to hearing Cook’s perspective on where the industry and Apple is going, and perhaps to get a glimpse into what makes its new leader — who is also a longtime Apple vet — tick,” writes Kara Swisher. Cook will be joined on the speaker list by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, among others. The 10th D: All Things Digital conference will be held May 29-31 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
Both Qualcomm and Intel have provided U.S. lawyers with source code that an Apple attorney claims will help it in its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung. Bloomberg reports that the code in question will be used in an Australia trial between the two companies; in the trial, Samsung accuses Apple of infringing on patents related to wireless transmissions, which the source code may absolve them of doing. “Further non-infringing arguments can be made” from disclosure of the source code, Apple lawyer Andrew Fox said at a hearing in Sydney. The trial between Apple and Samsung—in which both companies accuse one another of infringing patents—is scheduled to begin July 9 and run through October 12.
Apple has released iAd Producer 2.1, the latest version of its advertisement creation tool for its mobile ad network. First announced in 2010, iAd Producer allows potential advertisers to design and assemble rich interactive iAd content without any programming. Version 2.1 is a 66.8MB download, and features improved load and save performance, the ability to upload and test with iOS devices connected via USB, reduced device memory usage for image views, support for on-device debugging, Twitter integration for iAd content, simplified visualization of animations, and support for the third-generation iPad, among other improvements. iAd Producer is available now as a free download to registered developers, and requires Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later.
Recent reports suggest that Apple may be once again rejecting apps that make use of the iPhone volume buttons for shutter control, despite iOS 5’s addition of the feature into the built-in Camera app, and the subsequent approval of several camera apps implementing the feature.
Several app developers added volume button shutter controls to their iOS 4 camera apps in 2010, most notably Tap tap tap’s Camera+. Apple rejected the app due to this feature, so Tap tap tap added it as a hidden option instead. Soon thereafter, Apple began cracking down on apps with the feature, citing App Store Guidelines that prohibited changing the features of iOS hardware buttons. When Apple discovered the hidden feature in Camera+, it removed the app entirely from the App Store, and Camera+ didn’t return until several months later, with the “VolumeSnap” feature conspicuously absent.
With iOS 5.0 Apple brought the ability for the volume-up button to be used as a shutter control in the built-in Camera app. Several developers took this as a sign of Apple’s willingness to approve the use of this feature in third-party apps, and Camera+ was able to resurrect VolumeSnap late last fall. Several other camera app developers followed suit.
It appears that Apple is planning to change the volume button shutter, though it should be noted that the App Store Guidelines were never updated to permit third-party apps to use the feature. Last week, SmugMug released an update to its Camera Awesome photo app, adding Instagram support, however as Harry McCracken discovered, the update also quietly removed the ability to use the volume up button to take photos. McCracken contacted SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill for an explanation and was informed that Apple had “called and told [them] that they were asking all app developers using the volume button this way to remove the functionality because it was going to break in a future iOS update.” MacAskill goes on to explain that Apple has not confirmed whether it will provide an approved method for using the volume button as a shutter control, and notes that he “expect[s] more apps to start removing their volume button support in the future as a result.”
Notably, however, the latest version of Camera+, updated around the same time as Camera Awesome last week, still retains the ability to use the volume up button as a shutter control.
Apple has announced that it will report its results for the second fiscal quarter of 2012 on Tuesday, April 24. The release will be followed by the usual conference call to discuss the financial results, which will begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. iLounge will be providing coverage of the call. The call will likely discuss first quarter sales of the third-generation iPad and third-generation Apple TV, and could possibly offer insight into Apple’s product plans for the rest of the year.
Well-respected Judge Richard Posner has handed Apple a key victory in its ongoing patent dispute with Motorola. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents reports that Posner has delivered his interpretation of Apple’s touchscreen heuristics patent—which covers a handful of basic gestures—and has agreed with many of Apple’s assertions. In more detailed terms, the patent covers the strategy used by software to interpret a user’s touchscreen input by recognizing movements that are not straight lines, thus enabling vertical and horizontal scrolling using natural gestures. “Jury trials come with considerable uncertainty, but based on Judge Posner’s conclusions, Motorola will realistically be unable to avoid a finding of infringement and will have to come up with some really good invalidity arguments if it wants to avoid a disaster,” Mueller writes.
Notably, a passage from Apple’s argument is also included in the report. “[H]aving identified the problems associated with imprecise finger gestures, solved them, and successfully incorporated them into a commercial product, Apple should be entitled to the fruits of its innovation via broad patent protection, and the public is benefited by the disclosure of Apple’s invention,” it reads; Mueller notes that the “disclosure” would not happen until 2028.