Apple’s board of directors have become concerned with the pace of innovation at the company post-Steve Jobs, and that concern is “manifesting into pressure on” Apple CEO Tim Cook to innovate, according to Fox Business News’ Charlie Gasparino. The board “is now worried about what’s in the pipeline,” Gasparino said, referring to a lack of innovative products from Apple moving forward under Cook. However, Gasparino also claims that the board is completely behind Cook at this point. “This does not mean Tim Cook is out of a job or there’s a job search out there,” he said.
President Barack Obama met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and a number of other technology executives yesterday to discuss government surveillance, according to Politico. Thursday’s meeting was one of “a number of discussions” the Obama administration is holding on surveillance, which an aide said is part of the president’s “national dialogue about how to best protect privacy in a digital era, including how to respect privacy while defending our national security.” Cook had no comment on the report. The issue of government surveillance has been in the spotlight since a June report on PRISM, the code name of the extensive government data mining program. Apple denied knowledge of the program, and denied its servers were being accessed by government agencies.
Music video site Vevo is developing an Apple TV app that will play its 24/7 music video channel, according to AdAge. The app would play Vevo TV, a traditional music video channel that plays videos around the clock without letting viewers select which videos they want to watch. Vevo already has both a regular and iPad-only HD app for iOS. Neither Apple nor Vevo commented on the report.
T-Mobile may soon carry more Apple products, as CEO John Legere alluded to the possibility in a recent interview. “I think there’s a whole array of Apple products that we look forward to carrying,” Legere told AllThingsD. “We will expand what we offer from them.” Legere may have been referring to WiFi + Cellular iPads, Apple’s new upcoming iPhones, or all of those devices.
Burbn’s Instagram (free) app is now at version 4.1. Two major features are included in this update: users can now import any videos from their camera roll, instead of having to use Instagram itself to record the video. Also, Instagram now automatically straightens photos when taken with the Instagram camera.
Pi’ikea Street’s Interactive Alphabet ABCs, ($3) a long-time iLounge editors’ favorite for kids, has just reached version 3.01—a milestone that adds letter tracing and an add-your-own-image mode. The letter trading feature is really well-conceived, using illuminating lights to track the path of a child’s finger, and providing both helpful clues and rewards to encourage progress. Separately, the photo feature lets parents add their own photos, words, and sounds to the app’s Explore mode, presenting each photo as an alternate page for a given alphabet letter — a cool way to add “D is for Daddy” or “M is for Mommy,” just to name a couple of examples. Pi’ikea Street has effectively added another app worth of content to the title, yet it has cut Interactive Alphabet’s footprint in half. It was already a must-download app for young kids; this update further cements its excellent reputation.
Apple recently saw an import ban on older iPhones and iPads vetoed, and now the company is trying to turn the tables on Samsung by asking a U.S. appeals court tomorrow to block sales of certain Samsung devices. Bloomberg reports that Apple will try to block the sale of Samsung models that have been found to violate patents covering the “iPhone’s look and features.” A U.S. trade agency will then determine if any Samsung imports will be stopped. The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Apple violated a Samsung patent, and an import ban was to block the AT&T iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the first- and second- generation 3G iPads from being imported to the U.S., but the ban was recently overturned by the Obama administration.
British audio company RHA has announced two premium in-ear headphones, the MA750i ($130) and MA600i ($90). The MA750i in-ear headphones come with stainless steel housings and handmade dynamic drivers. A reinforced cable and remote and mic are also included on the headphones, which come with a carrying case and a selection of ear tips.
The less expensive MA600i is constructed from aluminum. It also offers a remote and mic and carrying case with a set of ear tips. Both new RHA in-ear headphones are set for release on Aug 28.
Apple rolled out movie support for iTunes in the Cloud across eight more countries today: Austria, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Users in those countries can now re-download previously purchased iTunes movies. Notably, Apple has yet to mark the countries as now offering movie support on the iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match Availability page. There are still a number of countries in which Apple offers support for music and music videos in iTunes in the Cloud, but not movies. [via MacRumors]
The five major U.S. publishers that settled with the U.S. government prior to trial are objecting to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposed remedy for Apple’s e-book price fixing, The Wall Street Journal reports. In a court filing, publishers said eliminating the “agency model” for five years as proposed would harm the publishers instead of Apple, since publishers were given the ability to set the retail prices for e-books under the model. The publishers — Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, and HarperCollins — all settled with the government before a price fixing trial, while Apple went to court and was subsequently found guilty of fixing e-book prices. Apple has spoken out against the DOJ’s proposal, calling it a “draconian and punitive intrusion.”
An outage with Apple’s iTunes Store is preventing some users from making purchases, as well as completing transactions that were underway at the time of the outage. The issue has continued for nearly two hours as of this writing, according to Apple’s System Status page. iLounge editors have experienced the problem firsthand, in the form of being unable to complete video purchases, and through in-progress app downloads that won’t authorize via iTunes.
Update: Apple’s System Status page is now showing a number of issues with other services. According to the status page, “Users may be unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, or iBookstore. Users may also be unable to download previously-purchased content, use iTunes Match, or successfully restore Apps and Music from an iCloud backup.”
Second update: All of those services have been restored, but now some users are unable to make FaceTime calls, according to Apple’s System Status page as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
Apple will soon make major changes to its AppleCare support service, including making online chat support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to a report. Around-the-clock chat support could go live as soon as Aug. 12, with the online chat “likely” to support users of both iOS devices and Macs. Along with the always-available online chat support, Apple is also readying the launch of a redesigned AppleCare website. The interface of the revamped site will feature larger and simpler navigation and icons, similar to iOS. [via 9to5Mac]
Heckler Design has released WindFall C ($129), a secure iPad point-of-sale iPad stand that works with a number of compatible card readers. A second-, third- or fourth-generation iPad can be mounted to the steel-and-polypropylene stand. The stand, which is angled at 45 degrees, can be placed on a swivel or mounted to a counter.
WindFall C doesn’t come with an included card reader — instead the stand supports popular options such as Square, Intuit’s GoPayment, and PayPal Here, among others. Heckler Design’s WindFall C stand comes in seven different colors and is available now.
The sequel to the excellent Mayan Puzzle, Mind Crew’s just-released Aztec Puzzle ($2) is all about redirecting flowing elements — water, fire, earth, and air, represented by moving lines passing through directional arrows — from one place to another using a limited amount of moves. The game has 72 total levels, and a “pure mode” to cut out distractions. It may not be as aesthetically impressive as Mayan Puzzle was, but Aztec Puzzle is a fun, challenging game, with some neat special effects and interesting challenges.
Double Fine Productions’ Dropchord ($3) is a quick-moving game, conceptually inspired by the classic Atari game Missile Command. Dropchord initially challenges you to control a line-shaped beam of light by using two fingers on opposite sides of the screen. Moving one finger up or down moves one of the beam’s sides up or down, while moving both fingers at the same time lets you twist the beam around inside an on-screen circle filled with moving dots that need to be popped with the beam. Other levels include one- and two-finger dot-tapping challenges, breaking up the action. There are tons of psychedelic special effects recalling beloved console games such as Atari’s Tempest 2000 and Sega’s Rez, as well as an impressive electronic soundtrack.
Apple has released iOS 7 beta 5 to registered developers. The fourth beta was released just last week after Apple’s developer site went down, so it appears Apple is trying to stick to the original release schedule for the iOS 7 betas. As has repeatedly been the case iOS 7 beta 5 only lists “bug fixes and improvements” as features, and is available for developers through Software Update in iOS settings, or Apple’s developer portal.
Update: Apple has also released Apple TV Software beta 4.
Twelve South has released HiRise for iPhone ($35), an adjustable stand for iPhone 5 and iPad mini that works exclusively with Apple’s Lightning cable. The metal pedestal elevates an iPhone 5 or iPad mini without blocking the speakers, mic, or headphone port. An Apple Lightning cable is not included with the stand.
Twelve South notes the HiRise stand is compatible with “most every case on the market.” The user can position a self-supplied Lightning connector with one of three included adjustable clips, and the rear support on the stand can move back and forth to adjust for different-sized cases. HiRise for iPhone 5 is available now.
Philips will soon be extending its Hue wireless lightbulb family with the addition of LightStrips ($90) and Bloom ($80), according to a report. LightStrips are flexible two-meter LED strips that can be placed in a wide variety of places, including around frames or fixtures. Bloom is a portable lamp with a 120-Lumen LED bulb that can be used to highlight parts of a room.
Philips has incorporated the ZigBee LightLink wireless standard into the Hue line of products, which allows users to customize the lights’ intensity, color, and more. LightStrips and Bloom will be on sale in “the coming weeks,” according to the report. [via The Verge]
Apple has announced a new USB Power Adapter Takeback Program following two reported user-shocking incidents in China that were blamed on third-party adapters, one of which allegedly caused a woman’s death, and another allegedly placing a man in a coma. The new program lets customers drop off third-party adapters with which they may have concerns at Apple retail stores or Apple authorized service providers. Apple will then dispose of the adapters in an “environmentally friendly way.”
Those who turn in at least one USB power adapter and bring along their iOS device for serial number validation will be able to purchase an official Apple USB power adapter for just $10, or the approximate equivalent in local currency. Customers will be able to purchase one $10 adapter for each iPhone, iPad, and iPod they own. The takeback program starts Aug. 16 and the special pricing for power adapters will run until Oct. 18.
Apple has emailed an update on the continued restoration of its developer website, following an intrusion a few weeks ago. The update notes most of the developer services are back online, and most of the remaining services will be reinstated this week. As of this writing, four services were still marked as offline on the Apple developer system status page. Those services are Xcode Automatic Configuration, Member Center, Program Enrollment and Renewals, and Technical Support.
A number of iPhones are experiencing battery life issues and some feel hot to the touch, possibly related to the iOS Facebook app. iLounge’s editors have seen both issues firsthand, and a number of tweets seem to verify there could be some sort of intermittent issue. Within the past five days, there have been a number of tweets on the matter, as a Twitter search for “Facebook app battery” shows. A post on blog.hagga.net took a look at the issue in May, and noted that a June update did not fix the problem. Facebook’s iOS app was last updated July 10. It’s hard to know for sure what is exactly causing the battery drain, though Facebook’s VoIP capabilities allow the app to run in the background, with no way of turning it off. The issue could be connected to something unusual happening on Facebook’s server, as well, or messaging notifications.
Regulators in China are looking into allegations that two Apple suppliers — Foxconn and UniMicron plants in Kunshan — are polluting nearby rivers with toxic heavy metals. Chinese environmental regulator and local vice director Ding Yudong said testing could take a while, and violations could come with serious penalties. Foxconn said it complies with emissions standards and noted that other facilities in the same industrial park discharge wastewater into the rivers. UniMicron said that it does daily wastewater inspections, and quarterly inspections are done by a third party. An Apple spokeswoman said the company regularly audits suppliers and works to ensure environmental standards are met. [via The Wall Street Journal]