A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company has been working on a way to add a speaker to the iPod nano and iPod shuffle. Entitled “Speaker Clip”, U.S. Patent Application #20110274303 describes a rear clip, similar to the one found on current-model iPod nanos and iPod shuffles, that incorporates a piezoelectric speaker in a recessed region in the clip, with perforations to allow the audio to pass through. Notably, one of the drawings included in the patent shows a round hole in the rear clip of an iPod nano-shaped device, serving as evidence that the company has been experimenting with the idea of added a camera to the device, as was suggested by a part leak earlier this year.
In responding to a developer bug report, Apple has reaffirmed that its Siri virtual assistant will remain exclusive to the iPhone 4S for now. Citing a person who submitted a bug report suggesting that Apple release a paid version of iOS for iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch users that would include Siri, Michael Steeber reports that Apple responded with a simple statement: “Siri only works on iPhone 4S and we currently have no plans to support older devices.” While Apple has given no indication of plans to add Siri to any of its other products, several members of the jailbreak community have been able to get the feature running on various older Apple products.
Security researcher Charlie Miller has been kicked out of Apple’s iOS Developer Program over a proof-of-concept app that Miller released on the App Store. According to Forbes, Miller discovered an exploit that allows apps to call out to an external server that downloads new, unapproved commands onto the device and can execute them at will. Using the exploit, a malicious app could potentially steal a user’s photos, read contacts, make the phone vibrate or play certain sounds, or repurpose normal iOS apps for nefarious purposes. To demonstrate the exploit, Miller submitted and had approved a fake stock ticker program which was available for a time on the App Store, which led to the termination of his developer agreement with Apple.
“This letter serves as notice of termination of the iOS Developer Program License Agreement…between you and Apple,” Apple’s email to Miller read. “Effective immediately.” The email cited the portion of the agreement that forbid him to “hide, misrepresent or obscure” any part of the app. Miller claims that he was only trying to demonstrate the issue, and argues that his past track record should have been taken into account. “I report bugs to them all the time. Being part of the developer program helps me do that. They’re hurting themselves, and making my life harder,” he told Forbes. “They went out of their way to let researchers in, and now they’re kicking me out for doing research. I didn’t have to report this bug. Some bad guy could have found it instead and developed real malware.”
Apple has released an update to its Apple Store iOS application incorporating the new in-store pickup and self-checkout features revealed last month. With Personal Pickup, U.S. based Apple Store customers can purchase items within the Apple Store application and choose to pick them up at any Apple Retail Store in the U.S. with most in-stock orders available within an hour.
The update also adds a new EasyPay feature allowing iPhone 4/4S users in U.S. Apple Stores to purchase select accessories in-store by scanning the barcode with the camera and completing the transaction directly within the application. The Apple Store application is also now available in Canada and China, although some features such as the new Personal Pickup and EasyPay remain available in the U.S. only at this time. The latest version also adds the ability for users to track their current and previous orders from within the application. Apple Store 2.0 requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has seeded iOS 5.0.1 beta 2 to its registered iOS developers, the second beta release of the point update this week. According to the release notes for the first beta version, iOS 5.0.1 “fixes bugs affecting battery life, adds multitasking gestures for original iPad, resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud, improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation,” and “contains security improvements,” and also “introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations.” iOS 5.0.1 beta 2 is listed as build 9A404, and is available now as a download from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple seeded developers with iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 late last evening, and also added iTunes Match to the second-generation Apple TV under the new main menu option “Music.” According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 offers stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all subscribers to the iTunes Match beta. Apple had promised to launch iTunes Match by the end of October, but missed its self-imposed deadline earlier this week, and is evident by these new releases, is continuing to test the service ahead of its anticipated wide-scale rollout. iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 is available now as a free download from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple has released iOS 5.0.1 to its registered iOS developers. According to the release notes, the new beta—listed as build 9A402—“fixes bugs affecting battery life, adds multitasking gestures for original iPad, resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud, improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation,” and “contains security improvements.” Notably, the update also “introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations,” seemingly addressing an issue recently brought to light by Instapaper developer Marco Arment. An Apple spokesperson confirmed that some iOS 5 users were experiencing battery life issues early today, telling The Loop, “A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices[.] We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.” iOS 5.0.1 beta for the iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch is available now as a download from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple has promoted its Senior Director of International Retail and former local store manager Steve Cano to replace outgoing executive Ron Johnson as Senior Vice President of Retail, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous source, Cult of Mac reports that Cano was previously tipped as a likely candidate to replace Johnson—who officially left Apple earlier this week to become CEO of J.C. Penney—by the Apple Retail Workers Union. As noted in the report, Cano got his start with Apple working as a store manager at the Palo Alto store—which happened to be then CEO Steve Jobs’ home store—and later moved to the SoHo store in New York, then went to manage the Ginza store in Tokyo, Japan. He was later appointed regional director as more stores were opened in Japan, and was later named Apple’s first Senior Director of International Retail, a position that saw him work out of a London office, overseeing a string a new stores in Europe. Apple has yet to confirm the report or add Cano to its online executive profiles.
Update: Cult of Mac has since updated its report to say that Apple has issued a statement saying Cano has not been named to Johnson’s former post. A company spokesperson said: “The search is underway with lots of interest and we are carefully selecting Ron’s successor. We have nothing to announce today.”
Apple has released a free update to its highly acclaimed GarageBand music creation app adding universal device support. Chosen as iLounge’s 2011 App of the Year for iPad, GarageBand 1.1 can now be used on the iPhone and iPod touch and adds a number of other new features and enhancements including the ability to create custom chords for Smart Instruments, support for additional time signatures, the ability to transpose songs in semitones or full octaves and additional quantization options for recordings. Users can now also take advantage of additional export quality settings for AAC and uncompressed AIFF output and adjust velocity settings for Touch Instruments. The update also contains a number of other smaller enhancements including automatic fading, and arpeggiator control on the Smart Keyboard and improved audio import options. GarageBand 1.1 requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.
Apple today announced that it will launch the iPhone 4S in Hong Kong, South Korea, and 13 other countries on Friday, November 11, with pre-orders beginning this Friday, November 4. The complete list of countries also includes Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal, and Romania; pre-orders will not be available in Albania, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro, and Panama. According to the announcement, the iPhone 4S is currently available in 29 countries and will be available in more than 70 by the end of the year.
Apple plans to allow customers to check themselves out via the company’s retail store iOS app, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous source, Mac Rumors reports that the option will be available for purchases of accessories and other shelf-stocked items at the company’s stores, and that the purchases will be charged to the customer’s iTunes Store account. Although details of the post-purchase experience are vague, it is expected that customers would be able to show an emailed receipt to any employee as a proof-of-purchase upon leaving the store. The report notes that high-value items such as Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods are kept in the stockroom and will still require employee assistance for purchase, but that smaller items such as cases and cables will be available for purchase without the need for employee interaction. The report also claims that Apple is expected to update its online store to allow for single orders to be routed to multiple shipping addresses, allowing customers to make all holiday purchases in a single transaction, and have then shipped to different recipients.
Apple has acquired 3D mapping company C3 Technologies as part of its ongoing effort to build an in-house mapping solution, according to a new report. Citing unnamed sources, 9to5Mac reports that Apple has purchased the company, and that C3 Technologies CEO Mattias Astrom, CFO Kjell Cederstrand, and Product Manager Ludvig Emgard are all now working within Apple’s iOS division. It is said that this leading trio, as well as most of the former C3 team, is still working together in Sweden—where the company was based prior to Apple’s purchase—under the division name “Sputnik”. Spun off from aerospace and defense company Saab AB in 2007, C3 specialized in creating high-quality, incredibly detailed photo-realistic 3D models of the real world, seamlessly integrating “traditional 2D maps, satellite images, street level photography and user generated images.” Prior mapping-related Apple acquisitions include mapping service Placebase and online 3D mapping firm Poly9; the report suggests that Apple may introduce a new mapping solution based in part on technology from all three companies in iOS 6.
Over the weekend, Apple started to air three new television ads for the iPhone 4S. Entitled “Siri, Snow Today”, “iCloud”, and “Camera”, the ads focus on the iPhone 4S’ Siri virtual assistant feature, iCloud integration for iTunes purchases, documents, iBooks, and Photo Stream, and the advanced optics and on-board editing and sharing features of the iPhone 4S’ eight-megapixel camera, respectively. All three ads are available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
Apple has released its Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) as an open-source project. Debuted in 2004, ALAC is “a data compression method which reduces the size of audio files with no loss of information. A decoded ALAC stream is bit-for-bit identical to the original uncompressed audio file.” The project, released yesterday, contains the sources for the ALAC encoder and decoder, an example command line utility, and a description of a “magic cookie” for use based on the ISO case media file format. The Apple Lossless Audio Codec sources are available under the Apache license.
Apple has released an update to its iAd Gallery application adding support for Push Notifications. Described as a “celebration of advertising,” iAd Gallery is a free app that allows iOS device users to access and preview an on-demand collection of iAd campaigns running on Apple’s in-app advertising network. Users can browse through the complete list of campaigns, search by advertiser, category or iAd feature, learn more about the features ads and agencies behind them and create a list of their favourite iAds. Version 1.1 introduces support for Push Notifications for advising users when new iAd campaigns are available. iAd Gallery is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
Apple has launched new iTunes Store movie content in a number of new markets. Citing reader reports as well as iTunes Store checks, Mac Rumors reports that movies are now available in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia, with Romania strangely left out. According to the report, Apple has yet to add dedicated navigation bar tabs for movies in the new markets, but the content is showing up in search results.
Apple has sent out an email notice to registered iOS developers, informing them that the company will be deleting all iTunes Match libraries later today. “To continue to improve the overall quality and reliability of iTunes Match, we will be deleting all current iCloud libraries on Thursday, October 27,” the message reads. It also reminds users to turn off iTunes Match on all their computers and iOS devices ahead of the scheduled deletion. Announced in June at WWDC, iTunes Match is a $24.99/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. Apple said at its “Let’s talk iPhone” event that the service would be available at the “end of October.”
Permits issued to Apple by Catawba County, North Carolina, have revealed that the company plans to build a solar farm across from its data center in Maiden, NC. The Charlotte Observer reports that the company has been approved to reshape the slope of some of the 171 arces it owns opposite its massive data center. Notably, the permits offer no details about the farm itself, including its exact size and position, and the county has yet to be asked to approve a building permit for the property. Citing the Hickory Daily Record, Mac Rumors adds that local residents have been upset by the smoke from fires set to help clear the land. Apple’s website touts the company’s commitment to using sustainable energy when possible, as its facilities in Austin, Texas, Sacramento, California, and Cork, Ireland, are 100 percent powered by renewable energy.
Apple has been awarded a patent for its iOS devices’ “slide to unlock” feature. BBC News reports that U.S. patent number 7657549 states, “A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device.” As noted in the report, the broad language of the patent would appear to cover not only Apple’s unlocking method, but those used by rival platforms, including Android and Windows Mobile. The patent was originally filed in June 2009, and lists Apple senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall as one of the seven inventors.
Jeff Robbin, vice president of consumer applications at Apple and veteran of both the iTunes and iPod teams, is heading the company’s HDTV efforts, according to a new report. Citing three people with knowledge of the project, Bloomberg reports that although it it’s not guaranteed that Apple will release a television, if released, it would likely allow users to seamlessly search for a show or movie, integrating various sources such as Netflix, iTunes, and potentially even cable or satellite, removing the need to check separately for content across multiple sources. Late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he wanted to create an “integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” and that it “would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.” ‘“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs said. “I finally cracked it.” Robbin was a developer of SoundJam, the program which Apple purchased and subsequently hired him to turn in to iTunes. Apart from his work on the iTunes team, Robbin was also heavily involved in the development of the iPod.