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Apple seeks face unlocking, battery charging patents

Three newly published patent applications have shed light on additional innovations Apple has been developing in its labs. A new patent application details a new facial recognition locking and unlocking system, which could conceivably allow a user to unlock his or her phone simply by looking at the device, and lock it by looking away. It’s already drawing comparisons to a similar Android feature and Google patent, but according to Patently Apple, “Apple’s invention adds so much more depth.”

Another patent application suggests an on-the-go charging mechanism, enabling a device to recharge using the motion of magnets across printed coils. Shaking or moving the device would create a current that could be stored as battery power. [via AppleInsider]

Apple has notably received a patent for a universal battery system, originally contemplated in 2007 and 2010 filings, which would allow users to swap rechargeable batteries between devices. The patent suggests that Apple was exploring the possibility of creating a flat, cell phone-style battery pack that could be charged inside a docking bay of a desktop computer, then placed inside anything from a wireless keyboard or mouse to a cell phone. While the concept is exciting, the company has been shifting away from user-replaceable batteries over time, leaving only certain computer peripherals with that option. [via Engadget]

Apple, publishers settle EU e-book antitrust investigation

Apple and four major publishers have agreed to settle an EU antitrust investigation, Reuters reports, by letting retailers sell e-books at a discount in Europe. For two years, Apple, along with publishers Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Livre of France, and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which owns Macmillan in Germany, will not “restrict, limit or impede e-book retailers’ ability to set, alter or reduce retail prices for e-books and/or to offer discounts or promotions,” the European Commission reported. A settlement was first offered in April.

EU regulators had examined Apple’s e-book pricing deals, including contract clauses that disallowed publishers from selling e-books for prices lower than those set by Apple. Apple and the publishers have agreed to suspend those contracts for five years, the Commission said. Among the publishers being investigated with Apple, only Penguin has not agreed to settle with the Commission. Apple, Penguin and Macmillan continue to fight a similar legal battle in the U.S., though Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Hachette settled with the U.S. government in April.

Shared Photo Streams go live for iOS 6, Mac

Announced in June, Shared Photo Streams have officially arrived today with the release of Apple’s iOS 6, as well as corresponding updates to Mac OS X applications. Users can now create iCloud-based virtual photo albums that can be shared as web pages or individual photos, both capable of being viewed and commented on by other iOS 6 and iCloud users.


It should be noted that Shared Photo Streams don’t have to include photos from the main Photo Stream, and they are not subject to the same Wi-Fi-only and 30-day, 1000-photo limitations. They don’t appear to count against iCloud storage allocation, either, and enable users to easily notify family members and friends of new images that are being privately shared amongst themselves.


iPhoto for iOS adds numerous enhancements

Following the release of iOS 6 earlier today, Apple has released an update to iPhoto for iOS devices adding a multitude of new features and enhancements. iPhoto 1.1 now includes six new Apple-designed ink effects along with a collection of Coaching tips in the help system to assist new users in getting started with the app and producing the best results. Users can also now import full resolution photos via iTunes File Sharing, with images of up to 36.5 megapixels in size supported on the iPhone 5 and third-generation iPad. Custom tags can be added to photos to create tag albums and multiple photos can now also be saved out the Camera Roll in a single operation. Photos can be sorted by date and filtered using new criteria and a Power Scroll strip has been added for high-speed scrolling through the app. A month-year overlay also now appears when scrolling in Photos view and a grid of thumbnails can be expanded to multiple rows when viewing in portrait orientation.

A number of enhancements have also been made to the various editing features including the ability to rotate tile-shift and gradient effects, modify fonts and alignment of text in journal items, and resize journal Note and Memory items. Dividers can also now be manually added to break journal pages into sections and a new Swap mode is available for changing the placement of items in a journal layout. In addition, links to journals can be shared directly to Facebook and Twitter and send out via Messages and links to remote journals can be shared from any device. Users can also control when to update their journal via a new “Publish Changes” button.

Facebook integration has also been improved with the ability to more easily add comments, upload videos to Facebook and set locations and friend tags when posting photos. Photos previously posted to Facebook can also now be more easily replaced with a more current version and notifications are now displayed when a Facebook upload completes in the background. The new version also adds integration with other apps such as Cards and iMovie, allowing photos to be shared directly to these apps from within iPhoto for iOS and adds support for the fourth- and fifth-generation iPod touch. iPhoto for iOS 1.1 is a universal app requiring iOS 6.0 and is available from the App Store for $5.

iMovie adds new editing features, 1080p HD uploading

Apple has updated iMovie, its universal video editing and creation app for iOS devices adding new content and editing features along with improvements to video sharing and exporting resolutions. iMovie 1.4 includes three new trailers—Adrenaline, Coming of Age, and Teen and now provides the ability for users to easily add Ken Burns animated photos to any trailer. A new Precision Editor is also available on the iPad to create split audio edits and clips can be previewed in the Video Browser before being added to a project. Photos can also be shared from iPhoto for iOS and finished projects can be shared to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and CNN iReport in full 1080p HD resolution. The new version also provides new Coaching tips to help users get started and provides easy access to audio recordings captured in a project via the Audio Browser. iMovie 1.4 is a universal app requiring iOS 6.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

App Store adds Passbook-enabled apps listing

Following today’s general release of iOS 6, a new page has appeared in the App Store providing a list of apps that provide support for the new Passbook feature. Users can access the listing by tapping on the “App Store” button that appears at the bottom of the Passbook app introduction screen. The current list includes such apps as Live Nation, Lufthansa, at Bat, Sephora to Go along with Walgreens and Fandango Movies in the U.S. and Cineplex Mobile in Canada. Passbook allows iPhone and iPod touch users with iOS 6 to store digital copies of items such as tickets, store cards, boarding passes and coupons along with alerts based on time or location.

GarageBand adds Music import, Ringtone creation

Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS adding the ability to import songs from the iOS Music library and create ringtones directly from the app. With GarageBand 1.3 users on iOS 6 can now create custom ringtones and alerts for the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and save them directly into the device’s ringtone/alert library. The new version also adds support for importing songs directly from the iOS Music library and playing and recording in the background while using other apps on the iPhone 4S/5 and the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad. A number of minor performance and stability issues have also been addressed in this update. GarageBand 1.3 is a universal app requiring iOS 5.1 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

Podcasts app adds iCloud sync

Apple has updated its standalone Podcasts app for iOS adding support for iOS 6 and synchronization of podcasts subscriptions between devices via iCloud. Users can now also choose to automatically download new episodes only when on Wi-Fi and play episodes in both forward and reverse chronological order. A new pull-to-refresh gesture has also been added to check for new episodes on iOS 6 devices. Podcasts 1.1 is a universal app requiring iOS 5.1 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

iOS 6 out now, back up your iOS devices

Although Apple has not yet officially stated the time when iOS 6 will be released today, unconfirmed reports have claimed that it will become available at 1:00pm ET, or 10:00am PT.

As the update will be a significant change to iOS devices, with the risk of installation-related issues, we would strongly recommend that you take the time now to back up any devices that will be receiving the update. iTunes and over-the-air update options will likely be available, and we’ll update this article when the official release takes place.


Updated 12:55pm: iOS 6 is out now as a free download. We’ve posted a Secrets and Features of iOS 6 article to help you learn what’s new and improved, as well as what’s sort of shaky (Maps). Apple’s official list of new features is included below.

Apple plans huge Hong Kong data center

Apple plans to open an enormous data center in Hong Kong SAR, China, according to 9to5Mac. The location will be near the Shenzhen, China border, and a bidding contractor employee suggests that the scale of the center will be massive.

Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2013, and the center should be operational by 2015. The article notes that companies often select Hong Kong for data centers due to both its autonomy — which keeps the Chinese government away from private data — and its close proximity to mainland China. Apple has also recently filed plans for a data center in Prineville, Oregon, and announced plans for a data center and a business and purchasing center in Reno, Nevada.

Apple design team accepts D&AD Awards in London

Apple was named best brand and best design studio of the last 50 years at the prestigious D&AD (Design and Art Direction) Awards, and Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive and the rest of the design team flew into London to collect the awards. As The Weekly Standard reports, Apple’s design team has never before attended an award ceremony, and have rarely if ever been publicly photographed together, but all 16 members took the stage to receive the honors. Ive declined public comment at the D&AD Awards, which were held at Battersea Park, London.


Ive also made headlines for an announced collaboration with German photography company Leica, which said that Apple’s famed designer will create a one-off version of the Leica M for charity, to be auctioned off by U2 singer Bono. The Leica M usually costs about $8,100, so an exclusive Ive-designed edition will almost certainly sell for an incredible premium. Design on the camera has yet to begin. [via Engadget]

Report: A6 contains custom core; new CPU in 2014

A report from VentureBeat offers more insight into the development of Apple’s A6 chip, refencing a post by chip analyst Linley Gwennap, who adds to claims that Apple has created a custom CPU. Gwennap’s notes that Apple has spent a total of $500 million on chip company acquisitions and chip development, investments that are beginning to bear tangible fruit with A6. By creating its own chips rather than relying on other companies’ designs, Apple will be able to narrowly target its processors to the horsepower and energy needs of its devices, as well as reducing costs — and/or raising its profits.

Following Apple’s acquisition of PA Semi, the company began work on separate projects, says Gwennap: the refinement of an ARM Cortex design into what became the Apple A4 chip, and the creation of an all-new CPU, leading Apple to inquire Intrinsity in 2010, and subsequently complete the A6 last year. Gwennap claims that the A6 is similar in complexity and performance to the ARM Cortex-A15 and the Krait CPU that appears in Qualcomm’s newest chips, noting that the A6 is larger than would have been the case if Apple’s third-generation iPad A5X processor was shrunk from a 45-nanometer manufacturing process to a 32-nanometer manufacturing process; had Apple done nothing more than shrink the A5X, the chip would have been 82 square millimeters. According to Gwennap, the 96 square millimeter size is likely attributable to a more powerful custom CPU core, as well as a better image processor for the camera. He expects Apple to use the A6 through 2013 and then launch a new CPU design in 2014, possibly based on the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set.

ITC investigating Apple devices after Motorola complaint

The U.S. International Trade Commission has opened an investigation of Apple’s iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Macs, according to an official release. This investigation stems from a complaint filed by Motorola Mobility, which is requesting an exclusion order and a cease and desist order. Few other details are provided on the investigation, but seven patents are addressed in the complaint. [via TNW/9to5Mac]

Apple awarded patent for ‘Antennagate’ iPhone 4 design

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for bezel gap antennas, a design element that was originally utilized in the iPhone 4. While the design was initially touted as a breakthrough by Apple, it led to “Antennagate,” a public relations crisis after the iPhone 4 was discovered to have wireless connectivity problems when the gaps were bridged by users’ conductive hands.

The patent details how “a parallel-fed loop antenna may be formed from portions of an electronic device bezel and a ground plane,” and was filed on Dec. 3, 2009, half a year before the release of the iPhone 4. “Antennagate” led to a case giveaway by Apple, eventually ending in a class action settlement, entitling U.S. iPhone 4 owners to a free case or small cash payment. [via Apple Insider]

Report: iOS 6 Maps local search flawed

One user’s experiences with Apple’s new iOS 6 Maps app have led him to claim that local search is “broken.” After installing the seemingly final Gold Master of iOS 6, Josh Carr discovered point of interest database limitations attributed to Apple’s use of Yelp for business searches.

Now that Google is no longer associated with Apple’s Maps application, Carr reports users can search for businesses in one of three ways: business name, address, and Yelp category. Numerous searches revealed major issues, Carr claims, including a search for “iPhone repair” that only returned two results; both were companies that “illegally use the trademarked term ‘iPhone’ in the name of their company on their Yelp record,” even if the term wasn’t actually in their business names. Additionally, Yelp’s database isn’t as large as Google’s, and searches must now be more exact in their wording to yield proper results. Despite the addition of major new features such as turn-by-turn driving directions, Siri integration, and some 3-D mapping capabilities, Carr concludes that iOS 6 Maps is “a tremendous step backwards,” particularly for local point of interest searching. [via TUAW]

iPhone 5 pre-orders top 2 million, double iPhone 4S

Apple announced this morning that pre-orders of the iPhone 5 exceeded 2 million in 24 hours, more than doubling the first-day sales pace of the iPhone 4S. In a press release, the company noted most pre-orders would be delivered on the Sept. 21 release date, but “many are scheduled to be delivered in October.” This news follows a morning announcement that iPhone 5 has set sales records for AT&T, though the company did not disclose figures. Verizon and Sprint have not as yet announced sales tallies.

Lightning Connector sparks confusion, uncertainty for Apple users

Officially announced and briefly discussed at this week’s iPhone 5-focused event in San Francisco, Apple’s next-generation Lightning Connector has quickly become a flashpoint of confusion for iPhone and iPod users. Revealed piecemeal in several leaks ahead of the event, the Lightning Connector replaces Apple’s 30-Pin Dock Connector, a ubiquitous rectangular port found on every iPhone, every iPad, and every iPod released since 2003, except the iPod shuffle. The first device to feature the new port will be the iPhone 5, with the iPod nano and iPod touch following soon thereafter; iPads will reportedly begin to make the transition this year. To enable some prior accessories to work with the new devices, Apple is now selling three types of Lightning Adapters, two for old 30-Pin Dock Connector accessories and one required in Europe for Micro-USB chargers. Through a spokesperson, Apple has also announced plans to release at least two more Lightning Adapters for HDMI and VGA output.

Despite Apple’s connector and adapter announcements, significant uncertainty remains regarding prior accessory compatibility, and the availability of Lightning Adapters. Conflicting reports this week suggested that the “all-digital” Lightning Connector might not be able to support analog audio or video output; however, Apple has confirmed that its Lightning to 30-Pin Adapters will be capable of passing iPhone 5 audio to prior Dock Connector-based docks, speakers, and cables, but will not support video out from the iPhone 5 to older video accessories, or “iPod out” mode transmission of data and album art, used in some car and home video dock accessories. It remains unclear whether the iPhone 5 will display jarring error messages when used with Apple’s Lightning Adapters, or just gracefully pass through what it can share. The first third-party accessories built with Lightning Connectors are not expected to hit stores until late this year or early next year, according to an iLounge source.


Adapter availability has also become a point of concern. The iPhone 5 will be delivered to users starting next week, however, Lightning Adapters will apparently not be available until some time in October, so the first round of customers will not be able to test their prior accessories with the iPhone 5 until well after the phone arrives. Apart from one brief and apparently erroneous hint during the iPhone 5 ordering process, Apple has not suggested that the iPhone 5 or new iPhones will include Lightning Adapters. According to a dialogue box spotted by TheNextWeb during iPhone 5 pre-ordering this morning, Apple’s web site told some European customers that the iPhone 5 “includes a Lightning to 30-pin Adapter,” and offered the purchase of “this additional adapter to have a second adapter for your home or office.” Some time afterwards, Apple changed the language to omit references to the “included” and “additional” adapters, with sales representatives describing the text as “an error.”

iPhone 5, iPod touch, iPod nano pre-orders begin

Despite web site hiccups early on Friday morning, Apple and its carrier partners are now officially accepting and processing pre-orders for the iPhone 5. Falling a little behind schedule after promising a 12:01am PT/3:01am ET online pre-order process, Apple’s web site began to accept orders several minutes later, and provided a reasonably graceful fallback reservation process when AT&T’s computers buckled—an outage that lasted for approximately 30 minutes as AT&T’s own site quickly failed at processing upgrade eligibility status for existing users.

Users attempting to order Verizon phones were promptly processed, while AT&T iPhone 5 orders through Apple were given reservation numbers and the opportunity to log in to complete their orders when AT&T’s computers became operable. E-mails offering that opportunity began to go out by 12:35am PT, and were processed properly at that point. Notably, iPhone 4S customers have discovered that they are not eligible for discounted or fully subsidized iPhone 5 pricing, with October 8 of this year as the earliest date for discounts, and May 8, 2013 for full subsidized pricing. iPhone 5 unlocked and off-contract pricing remains the same as for the iPhone 4S: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB).


Apple also began to accept pre-orders for the fifth-generation iPod touch and seventh-generation iPod nano during the same time period. Unexpectedly, Apple limited iPod touch orders to two per person, with no limitation on iPod nano orders. iPod touch loop wrist strap accessories became available separately for $9 each. The company provided no further details on ship dates for the new iPods or accessories beyond the word “October.”

Updated: One hour after pre-orders began, Apple sold through its initial U.S. pre-order allocation of iPhone 5s; the Apple Store web site thereafter told customers that new orders would ship in “two weeks.” iPod availability apparently remained unchanged.

Apple posts media event, iPhone 5, EarPods videos

Apple has posted full videos of Wednesday’s media event, as well as separate videos focusing on the iPhone 5, and EarPods. The iPhone 5 video is nearly seven minutes long and shows a brief demonstration of its LTE network in action, in addition to detailing new features of the phone. The EarPods video concentrates mainly on the design and development of the earphones, which will be packed in with some iPods and the iPhone 5, as well as sold separately.

Apple releases iOS 6 GM seed to developers

Apple has released its Gold Master seed of iOS 6 to registered developers. Listed as build 10A403, the GM build is normally the last to be seeded prior to the software’s official launch, expected on September 19, and as such can be used to submit iOS 6 applications to the App Store for review. It is unclear whether the iOS 6 GM seed will be made available as an over-the-air software update, as has been the case with past iOS 5 and iOS 6 beta releases, however Registered Developers can download the iOS 6 GM seed and the accompanying SDK from the iOS Dev Center now.

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