- March 25, 2014
Apple didn’t infringe on certain Samsung patents and won’t have to pay damages in a Japanese court ruling, Bloomberg reports. A Tokyo District Court ruled the iPhone 4, 4s, and iPad 2 don’t infringe on Samsung data communication patents. Samsung expressed their disappointment with the decision and noted that the company may appeal the ruling. Apple’s U.S. multi-patent battle with Samsung is scheduled to resume next week.
Digital downloads including App Store and iTunes purchases are due to see a tax increase in the U.K. under new laws next year, The Guardian reports. A new budget would force Apple and others to charge a 20 percent tax rate on such downloads. The budget closes a tax loophole that currently allows digital downloads to be taxed through other countries, with the tax rate sometimes dropping as low as three percent. Barring any changes, the new law is set to go into effect January 1, 2015.
Apple is talking with Comcast about working together on a streaming television service that would use an Apple set-top box like Apple TV, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal would use Comcast’s cables to bypass web congestion, sources said. Using Comcast as a partner would, ideally, prevent buffering and other service issues that often plague streaming web video. Apple seeks to let users stream live and on-demand TV shows stored in the cloud, thus replacing a traditional cable box.
The report claims that at the moment, Apple and Comcast “aren’t close” to an agreement. Comcast would have to make “significant investments” in network equipment and other technology, while the two companies seem to disagree on which would control customer data — Apple wants people to sign on to the device using its Apple IDs, and the company is asking for a cut of the monthly subscription fees paid by customers. It’s noted that Apple was working on a deal with Time Warner Cable since mid-2012; Comcast’s deal to acquire Time Warner is currently being reviewed by regulators.
Apple has “opened exploratory talks” with record executives about creating an on-demand music streaming service, à la Spotify, and the company is also considering making an iTunes app for Android, Billboard reports. The discussions are reportedly part of a strategy to help Apple cope with declining downloads in the iTunes Music Store. “They are feeling out some people at labels on thoughts about transitioning its customers from iTunes proper to a streaming service,” a major label source said. “So when you buy a song for $1.29, and you put it in your library, iTunes might send an e-mail pointing out that for a total of, say, $8 a month you can access that song plus all the music in the iTunes store. It’s all in the ‘what if’ stage.” Such a streaming service could be a standalone app. An iTunes spokesman declined comment.
The report also notes Apple is trying to stimulate more download sales by pushing catalog titles. iTunes executives have asked labels to clean up catalogs of their top 100 selling artists to prevent multiple copies of albums and redundant compilations from showing up in the store, with the hopes of reducing the available number of compilations for each artist to a more manageable number.
An EA Games server is hosting a phishing site that’s asking for Apple IDs, passwords, and credit card information, according to anti-fraud Internet services company Netcraft. Two websites in the ea.com domain use the compromised server, which redirects users to the actual Apple ID website after entering their confidential information. It’s possible that hackers accessed the site using vulnerabilities in an outdated version of WebCalendar 1.2.0 software. Netcraft notes that it informed EA of the hack, but the server and content is still online. [via CNET UK]
- March 18, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook has issued a strongly-worded statement slamming “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs,” a new book by former Wall Street Journal technology reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane. Cook said in a statement to CNBC, “This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company. Apple has over 85,000 employees that come to work each day to do their best work, to create the world’s best products, to put their mark in the universe and leave it better than they found it. This has been the heart of Apple from day one and will remain at the heart for decades to come. I am very confident about our future.”
Critically panned by most early reviewers, Kane’s book is based on 200 interviews with current and former executives, business partners, and others on the post-Steve Jobs era at Apple. The book’s description notes that Haunted Empire “reveals the perils and opportunities an iconic company faces when it loses its visionary leader.”
Apple will bring back the fourth-generation iPad on Tuesday, 9to5Mac reports. According to a source, Apple stores have been receiving shipments of the previously discontinued iPad. Both Wi-Fi and LTE black and white 16GB models have arrived in stores. It’s likely that Apple will make the 16GB fourth-gen iPad the low-end $399 iPad model, and discontinue the second-generation iPad, so all current iPads would be Lightning devices.
It was reported earlier today that Apple will introduce an 8GB version of the iPhone 5c, likely at the same time as the reintroduction of the fourth-generation iPad tomorrow. Apple could discontinue the iPhone 4s and introduce the new 5c as the low-end iPhone model — all current iPhones would then be Lightning devices, as well.
- March 17, 2014
Apple today has started charging out-of-warranty customers for for online chat support — it now costs users $20 per incident for support. The company’s new web payment system, first reported weeks ago, is having difficulties thus far, 9to5Mac reports. It’s likely Apple will offer exceptions for payments until the system is working properly. The company will also grant exceptions for iCloud issues and accidental damage incidents to set up a repair or replacement.
Apple may introduce an 8GB version of the iPhone 5c this week, according to an alleged internal email from German wireless carrier O2, obtained by German blog stadt-bremerhaven.de. The lower-capacity version of the phone is supposedly shipping to stores today for a Tuesday morning launch.
The email describes the new 5c as Apple’s “entry-level smartphone,” and suggests that other 5c models may see reduced pricing, as well. While all five iPhone 5c colors will allegedly be offered in 8GB capacities, only white and blue versions will allegedly be available immediately in O2 stores, with other colors available to be ordered online. It’s unclear whether this will be the case in other territories or with other retailers, as well; Apple Stores tend to have full color and capacity inventories faster than carrier partners.
Update: Engadget posted a reader photo of the 8GB 5c’s packaging, confirming the device’s existence.
Apple’s upcoming Healthbook app may track users’ heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep, and more, according to a new in-depth look from 9to5Mac. The article offers “complete recreations of screenshots” which appear to answer numerous questions as to what Apple is testing in health and fitness tracking. Bloodwork, oxygen saturation, and blood sugar sections of the app will monitor a user’s blood. Apple could also track hydration and respiratory rate using Healthbook, as well as sleep cycles.
As one might expect, Healthbook will also be used in fitness tracking, to examine weight, activity, and nutrition. An Emergency Card section would store vital health information that can be used be a doctor or emergency technician in times of health crisis. It’s unknown how Healthbook will acquire the data, though the iPhone, iWatch, and third-party apps or devices could all contribute information. Healthbook could be released with iOS 8, but the report notes—likely for cautionary purposes only—that the app “could be pushed back to a future operating system version or cancelled entirely.”
Apple is thinking about removing the Game Center app from iOS 8, while leaving the Game Center functionality intact within games, 9to5Mac reports. Recent alleged leaked screenshots from iOS 8 do feature the Game Center icon. Apple may also simplify alerts within Notification Center and add the ability to automatically delete Messages threads. Inter-app communication may be improved in iOS 8, and Apple also plans on tweaking controls in its Voice Memos app. Some versions of iOS 8 in testing include WiFi-enabled CarPlay, though it’s unclear if this functionality will be delayed until a future release.
A few alleged iOS 8 screenshots including icons for Healthbook, Preview, and TextEdit have been posted on a Weibo account. The shots are legitimate, according to 9to5Mac. Healthbook’s icon is very similar to the Passbook icon, and Preview and TextEdit’s icons match the Mac versions.
Earlier today, it was reported that Apple was working on iOS versions of Preview and TextEdit. Also, a lightbulb icon for an apparent app named Tips is included in the screenshots — it’s unknown at this point what Tips is, or what it does, but it may be some kind of iOS 8 user guide. A settings screenshot was also spotted on Weibo, noting version 8.0.
Apple is working to develop versions of its TextEdit and Preview Mac applications for iOS, 9to5Mac reports. The iOS versions of the apps would reportedly only be used to view TextEdit and Preview files stored in iCloud; users would have to edit documents using Pages. It’s “currently uncertain, but still possible” that the new versions of the apps will end up in iOS 8. The new applications come from the restructuring of Apple’s iOS and OS X development teams, sources said, as engineers now work together on both operating systems. Apple is also researching new iCloud storage tools to simplify the development of server-integrated App Store applications for iOS as the company pushes to make iCloud a larger part of the iOS file system in the future.
Apple will change its iPhone return policy from 30 days to 14 days by Thursday, according to 9to5Mac. The change is already reflected on Apple’s website. The 14-day period will match the return policies of other Apple products. An internal Apple document claims the change is being made to make the return policy universal for all products, and to match 14-day return policies offered by iPhone carriers.
Apple is still committed to pushing iPhone 5c sales, as evidenced by a new large interactive ad now running on the front page of the New York Times website — an uncommon move from Apple. Colored dots run across the page before settling in the ad, which occupies a large section on top of the page. The ad features eight separate animated videos with sound effects or music, including Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers,” Nena’s 1983 hit “99 Luftballons,” and the Pac-Man theme.
Notably, Sprint’s name is included in the ad alongside the Apple iPhone 5c name — however, the ad link takes users to Apple’s iPhone 5c page. In 2011, Sprint agreed to purchase 30.5 million iPhones within four years, no matter if they sold the units or not. According to a report at the time, Sprint’s deal wasn’t expected to be profitable for years, and sales reports to date suggest that it has sold half or fewer of the committed iPhone units.
Apple has released iOS 7.1 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The long-awaited bug-fixing update brings improved Touch ID recognition for iPhone 5s, and many new features to the company’s mobile operating system, along with smaller UI tweaks. Some of the new features include the option to display events in month view in Calendar, new “natural-sounding” male and female Siri voices for Australian English, U.K. English, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese, and support for CarPlay, Apple’s in-car solution formally announced last week. iTunes Radio tweaks have also been added. Apple has added a iOS 7.1 web page to highlight the key features.
Visual changes include new button shapes in the Phone app, more evident shift and caps lock images, and a redesigned power down slider. Other tweaks include a new camera setting to automatically enable HDR for iPhone 5s, and automatic clearing of FaceTime notifications when a call is answered on another device. iOS 7.1 can be installed over the air or by connecting to iTunes on a Mac or PC.
Apple’s in-store iPhone Reuse and Recycle program has arrived in Canada. Users can trade in older iPhones for gift cards that can be applied to a new iPhone purchase. As noted on Canadian Apple retail pages, users can earn up to $275 for a trade-in. The Reuse and Recycle program is also available in the U.S., U.K., and France, and a limited version of the program exists in India. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple is reportedly “scrambling” to make changes to the App Store in order to meet a March 31 deadline set by the Federal Trade Commission for changing how the company charges for in-app purchases, according to ZDNet. Apple settled with the FTC in January — the company must now obtain “express, informed consent” before billing for in-app charges, and must give consumers the option to withdraw consent at any time. It’s reportedly taking “longer than expected” for Apple to make the changes. Apple would like to include the changes in iOS 7.1; it’s unclear if the changes are delaying the upcoming release of iOS 7.1, but Apple could always address the changes in another update.
- March 6, 2014
A class action lawsuit recently filed in Florida alleges that Apple is violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act by not offering point of sale devices that can be operated independently by the visually impaired. The suit argues the visually impaired cannot enter a PIN without help while using a debit card, denying the individuals full equal use of the store. It’s noted that other retailers offer point of sale devices with “tactiley discernible keypad surfaces.” The plaintiff is seeking an injunction that would force Apple to update or replace its point of sale devices. [via TUAW]
- March 6, 2014
Apple has moved roughly $8.9 billion in untaxed profits from its Australian operations to a tax haven structure in Ireland over the last decade, The Australian Financial Review reports. The article claims that while Apple reported pretax earnings of $88.5 million in Australia last year, the company “sent $2 billion of income from its Australian sales to Ireland via Singapore, where Apple negotiated a secret tax deal.” Using 10 years of financial accounts obtained from Apple’s Irish company, Apple Sales International, the Financial Review says that although Apple Sales International has reported more than $100 billion in profits during the last five years, it has paid less than 50 cents in tax on every $1000 of income.
As was noted last year when Apple came under fire for tax practices, Apple avoids paying taxes in Ireland because the company is managed in the U.S., but avoids U.S. taxes by having Apple Sales International registered in Ireland. Though Ireland has said it would close the loophole, Apple can still choose where to base its tax residence. In 2010, Apple started rerouting sales through a new subsidiary based in Singapore, Apple South Asia Pte Ltd. The publication notes “there is no suggestion ... that this arrangement is anything but proper within Australian tax laws.”