Apple has launched a “fact-finding visit” to Bangka Island, Indonesia, to see if it is using illegally mined tin in its products, according to an update on the company’s Supplier Responsibility webpage. The move may have been prompted by a Friends of the Earth campaign that calls for Apple to “publicly come clean” about the sourcing of tin in its iPhones. Samsung has already admitted to using tin from Bangka Island. Tin mining on Bangka Island is reportedly responsible for destroying forests and farmland, harming coral reefs, and negatively impacting local communities. [via The Verge]
Apple and Google have seen their relationship improve during the past year, according to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. Schmidt said the companies have conducted “lots and lots” of meetings, without providing further details about those meetings. Google and Apple are in “constant business discussions on a long list of issues,” he said. Apple has distanced itself from Google recently by choosing to use services on its devices from other companies, such as Yahoo!, and through providing its own Apple Maps service for iOS. [via Reuters]
Verizon may end up owing Apple billions of dollars in 2013 due to a purchase commitment for iPhones, according to a report. Telecommunications analyst Craig Moffett estimates the carrier could have a shortfall of $12 billion to $14 billion, with Verizon obligated to buy $23.5 billion in iPhones this year; a second analyst concurs with the lower number. Such a shortfall could spark some negotiation between Verizon and Apple on how to fill the gap. Neither Apple nor Verizon commented on the report. Notably, the report suggests that Sprint will likely be able to meet its own commitment to buy $15.5 billion in iPhones during over four years. Sprint started selling the iPhone in 2011. [via Bloomberg]
Apple is asking the International Trade Commission for a stay on an upcoming August 5 ban of older iPhone and iPad models. The ITC ruled in June that Apple violated a Samsung patent, and issued an import ban on GSM versions of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and cellular first- and second-generation iPads. Apple is arguing that the ban will harm both the company and its carrier partners, even though the company previously stated the decision had “no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States.” Though carrier names were redacted from Apple’s filing, AT&T and T-Mobile are likely the affected companies. Apple is waiting for the Federal Circuit to decide on an appeal. [via GigaOM]
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled today that Apple conspired to raise e-book prices, and a trial for damages will be forthcoming. The U.S. Department of Justice first filed the price-fixing antitrust lawsuit in April 2012 against Apple and five book publishers, all of whom settled out of court before trial. Cote said in May that the government had enough evidence to prove Apple conspired with publishers to raise e-book prices, and the decision today confirmed her prior statement. “The plaintiffs have shown that the publisher defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy,” Cote said. The U.S. government and a number of states will likely receive damages from Apple. [via Reuters]
Apple and Amazon have both decided to end their lawsuit over the rights to use of the term “app store,” according to Reuters. Following an initial ruling that suggested Amazon would prevail in the case, a spokeswoman for Apple said that the company no longer needed to pursue the case, and Amazon agreed not to sue. Both companies are free to use the term “app store.”
The companies were ordered to begin settlement talks in March before an August trial. Apple originally sued Amazon over use of the term in March 2011; in January, Apple’s claim of false advertising against Amazon over use of the term was dismissed.
A change in iOS 7 beta 3 may allude to Apple making its iWork and iLife apps free in iOS 7. The recommended free Apple apps screen in the third beta now includes Apple’s iWork suite, as well as iPhoto and iMovie, though not GarageBand. This could be changed before final release, and may be an App Store glitch, but it appears to have been a deliberate addition to the list of free Apple downloads. Apple may want to make it easier for users to access its iWork suite, especially with the introduction of iWork for iCloud, and might also see the iPhoto and iMovie tools as worthy of giving away with iOS—similar to their bundling with OS X for the Mac. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has been targeted in a class action suit for selling iTunes customers HD video downloads even when the customers had older devices that didn’t support HD. The suit was reportedly filed by a Florida lawyer who claimed Apple deceived him into paying an extra $1 for an HD version of a film. A complaint accuses Apple of making HD the default option for video downloads on the first three versions of the iPhone and iPod touch, even though the devices didn’t support HD playback. The downloaded videos would then play in standard definition. It’s alleged that iTunes could recognize an SD-only device, but would still sell the HD version of the video. Compensation is being sought for those who paid to download HD videos to the older devices. [via GigaOM]
Apple has released the third beta of iOS 7 to registered developers. The company released the second beta two weeks ago, and the first beta of iOS 7 two weeks before that. The third beta is now available through Software Update in iOS settings, and “contains bug fixes and improvements,” according to sparse notes. Additional details on newly added features will become available over the next several days.
Update: iOS 7 beta 3 has also been posted to Apple’s developer portal.
A new “Only on the App Store” promotion has made a number of top iOS apps and games free from iTunes. Infinity Blade II, Where’s My Water?, Badland, Tiny Wings for iPhone and iPad, Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP, Day One, Over, Barefoot World Atlas, Traktor DJ for iPhone and iPad and more are all currently free — Traktor DJ notably normally sells for $20.
The apps have likely gone free to mark the upcoming fifth anniversary of the App Store. It’s unclear how long the apps will be available for free, or if other apps will be made free at some point. [via The Verge]
Update: Apple has noted the apps are free for a limited time as part of “5 Years of the App Store.” A timeline of App Store milestones can be viewed within the App Store. The promotion also includes How To Cook Everything for free, in addition to the apps listed above.
A recently published Apple patent application details flexible battery packs for use in electronic devices. Apple’s application focuses on battery packs that may consist of multiple cells, which could be connected by laminate layers. The arrangement allows “the battery to be shaped to fit a form factor of the electronic device.” Cells could also be removed in certain situations, which could allow for more manufacturing possibilties.
The application notes the flexible battery packs could “be employed in wristwatches, calculators, laptop computers, tablet computers, and/or music players.” It’s possible Apple could use such technology in its rumored smart watch. The company has already been linked to flexible and wraparound displays, in both a job listing and previous patent applications published in March and February. [via Patently Apple]
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently spoke to Apple Retail Store Leaders about selling more iPhones in Apple Retail Stores, according to a report. During a summit that lasted for about three hours, Cook mentioned that Macs and iPads have sold well in Apple’s stores, but 80 percent of iPhones are purchased from other outlets. Apple will reportedly create new incentives to sell more iPhones in its own stores — the iPhone is now included in Apple’s Back to School promotion, and an earlier report noted Apple will start an in-store trade-in program for used iPhones. Sources said that program will be heavily promoted within stores. It’s also notable that one source said to expect “an army of new products this fall.” [via 9to5Mac]
Boston University has filed a lawsuit alleging Apple has infringed upon a patent held by computer engineering professor Theodore D. Moustakas. The 1997 patent for highly insulating mono crystalline gallium nitride thin films is alleged to be infringed upon in the iPhone 5, iPad, and MacBook Air. BU has reportedly filed identical claims against other companies, including Amazon and Samsung. The university plans to show in court that “at least one other company pays a licensing fee” for use of the allegedly infringed component. [via Boston Herald]
Apple has hired Paul Deneve, former CEO of French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent. Deneve will report to CEO Tim Cook as a vice president working on “special projects,” according to Bloomberg. He previously worked for Apple in Europe in the 1990s. Considering Deneve’s fashion background, it’s possible those “special projects” may include Apple’s smart watch — the company has recently filed for an iWatch trademark in numerous countries.
Apple is close to a deal with Time Warner Cable that would give Time Warner subscribers access to channels on Apple TV, Bloomberg reports. An agreement between the two companies could be announced “within a few months,” according to sources. A recent Apple TV update added HBO GO and WatchESPN to the device, among other subscription services. Sources also say Apple is hiring Hulu senior vice president Pete Distad to help negotiate with media and cable companies.
Apple was granted a patent for a touch-sensitive bezel that could act as another form of input on a device. The filing details a method in which a display screen would be accompanied by a bezel that covers “a second portion of the active area.”
Sensors would recognize when the bezel is about to be used for input. The appearance of the bezel could be adjusted so control functions could become visible upon use, by changing the transparency of the active area; buttons hidden below the bezel could conceivably begin to glow as fingers approach. [via Apple Insider]
It has been discovered that Apple has filed for an “iWatch” trademark in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey, and Colombia, just one day after learning the company filed for the same trademark in Japan. Apple has also apparently filed for the trademark in Russia. The easily found, widely reported trademark filings are unlike Apple; though a smart watch release from the company seems inevitable, it’s still unclear if this means we’ll be seeing the device earlier than expected. [via 9to5Mac, MacRumors]
Apple is likely to launch its annual Back to School promotion this week — and possibly tomorrow — according to a report. Eligible students will receive an iTunes/App Store gift card with the purchase of a Mac, iPad, and now, an iPhone. While $100 gift cards come with a Mac purchase, an iOS device purchase will net students a $50 gift card. Last year’s promotion ran from June into September — there’s a possibility this year’s promotion could run later due to its late starting date. [via 9to5Mac]
Update: Apple’s Back to School promotion started today, July 2, and it runs through Sept. 6.
Apple is reportedly negotiating with South Korea’s SK Telecom to release an LTE-Advanced iPhone 5S in “the coming months” in South Korea. An SK Telecom official said the company approached Apple to include LTE-A technology. “We are in the middle of negotiations,” the official said. It’s unclear if Apple has plans to include LTE-A technology in all iPhone 5S models, and whether the approach to Apple—a company that has been hesitant to adopt regionally-available cellular technologies outside of the United States—will be successful. [via The Korea Times]
Recent U.K. tax filings have revealed Apple paid no corporation tax last year, despite making about $103 million in pre-tax profits. A report states, “Tax deductions from share awards to employees helped wipe out the corporate tax liabilities of the UK subsidiaries in the year to September 2012.” Apple paid around $17 million in taxes the previous year. The new findings only increase public pressure on the company, as Apple faced questioning from the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on tax issues in May. [via Financial Times]