Experts say conjoint studies flawed, patents worthless as Samsung begs for time
The eighth full day of the Samsung-Apple patent trial went through another raft of witnesses as Samsung struggles to make its case inside its allotted limit of 25 hours -- a problem that hounded the company in the last trial as well. Lead attorney for Samsung John Quinn was forced to read transcripts of declarations to save time, hustle through witnesses and plead with Judge Lucy Koh for more time. An expert that the Galaxy S5 maker paid $1,000 an hour for refuted a colleagues' studies as "kind of biased."
Expected new products and updates, larger screen sizes will boost AAPL
Historically, investment and Wall Street analysts have had a poor track record predicting Apple's fortunes ahead of time. However, as Apple's guidance has gotten more accurate, and as supplier leaks and blatant manipulation of the market grow, predictions are getting more accurate. As it traditionally does, Fortune magazine has rounded up the predictions of various investment houses and independent analysts, which show slow growth in iPhones this quarter, but expectations of boosts ahead.
Shack cuts up-front cost in half, iPhone 5s drops to free when trading in an iPhone 4S
Although there have been a number of good deals in recent months on both the iPhone 5c and 5s, a new deal kicking off tomorrow from RadioShack may be the one iPhone 4S holdouts have been waiting for. Starting April 18, new or upgrading customers using AT&T, Verizon or Sprint can buy the 16GB version of the iPhone 5s for $99, half of its usual $199 up-front cost. The deal, which is available both online and in stores, gets sweeter if users trade in a working iPhone 4S or newer.
Feature deploying slowly
Facebook has announced an upcoming feature for its iOS and Android apps, Nearby Friends. The function will notify users when friends are within a certain radius, giving a chance to meet up. For security purposes the feature will be off by default, only work if both parties have it enabled, and allow restricting notifications to specific groups -- close friends, for example, or a custom list.
Content of v7.1.1 update unknown
Apple is preparing an immediate follow-up to iOS 7.1 in the form of v7.1.1, according to web traffic data from 9to5Mac. The site says that it has received "numerous" hits from v7.1.1 devices operating in areas around Apple's Cupertino campus. It's not clear when the update will go live, or what it will contain, but the version number suggests that it should arrive relatively soon and mostly contain bugfixes.
Bug may possibly be affecting other apps
Several UK-based iOS apps -- including BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, and Now TV -- have suddenly stopped streaming video, the BBC reports. The issue began last night, and is still ongoing; the source of the problem is so far unknown, as is whether other apps are also being affected. The director of Now TV, Gidon Katz, indicates that the issue can be temporarily fixed in Sky and Now by rewinding iOS' clock by a day, but that triggers other problems -- including preventing access to the App Store -- and doesn't solve the flaw in iPlayer.
Brings mainstream cars into CarPlay lineup
Hyundai will support Apple's CarPlay beginning with 2015-model Sonatas shipping later this year, according to an announcement. The Korean carmaker is the first since Volvo, Ferrari, and Mercedes-Benz to reveal specific plans for vehicles shipping in 2014. One more, Honda, has yet to say which car models it will fit with CarPlay. Other brands -- such as Ford, BMW, and Toyota -- may not have CarPlay-ready vehicles until 2015 arrives.
New apps share iOS 7-friendly interfaces
Corel has brought its previously iPad-only mobile video editing app, Pinnacle Studio, to the iPhone. The app allows for complex editing, including the ability to trim individual frames and insert elements like transitions, stills, titles, graphics, fast/slow-motion, and picture-in-picture effects. Quick clip arrangement can be done with the Storyboard, while the Timeline allows for more precise manipulation and trimming.
Model still not available in US
The 8GB iPhone 5c is now on sale in 14 more countries, checks show. When the 8GB option first became available last month, it launched in just a handful of regions. The model is newly available in the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Spain, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Switzerland.
String of Samsung witnesses find that Apple's patents are all invalid
Not only did Samsung not infringe on Apple's patents, a parade of witnesses for Samsung told the jury today in the Apple-Samsung trial, those patents aren't valid even if Samsung did copy them. With some help from Apple's very light cross-examination, Samsung again flew through a lengthy list of experts who testified on the relative worthlessness of Apple's patents for "data detectors" (also referred to as "quick links"), universal search, autocorrection and the "slide to unlock" concept.
Industry-led group will work on standards for phone security across platforms
Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft, among others, have joined with the top five US wireless carriers to create an industry group dedicated to fighting smartphone theft and implementing multi-platform technology to aid that cause by next summer. HTC, Huawei, Motorola and Nokia are also part of the group, which is aiming to create a "baseline anti-theft tool" similar to the steps Apple has already taken in its own iPhone security software, particularly with regards to preventing reactivation.
Details remain scarce
Following a Nikkei report to the effect earlier this week, Alpine has officially confirmed plans to ship aftermarket receivers compatible with Apple's CarPlay. The units will roll out in the US and Europe towards the end of 2014, but apart from a concept image, no other details are available. The Nikkei account suggested prices would fall between $500 and $700.
Feature tethered to cable providers
A&E has updated two of its iOS apps -- History, and the network's namesake -- with support for watching live TV. Previously users were able to watch clips and full episodes, but only after the fact. Like some other TV apps, gaining access to the live streams requires a cable subscription.
Five new receivers planned
Audio specialist Pioneer has announced plans to ship five Apple CarPlay-compatible receivers this summer. The new models in the NEX series will all have large LCD displays, but come in at very different price points. The cheapest model, the AVH-4000NEX, is set to cost $700. Higher-end models will ship for $750, $900, $1,200, and $1,400. Pioneer is also promising various non-CarPlay related improvements; the units are expected to have more responsive interfaces, for example, and better sound and safety features.
Number of leaks continues to ramp up
New photos may have revealed more components for the next-generation iPhone, usually nicknamed the iPhone 6. An image from Chinese site Sina Weibo shows what's claimed to be a front panel for the device. Next to it for comparison is an iPhone 5s; while the panel has similar cutouts, it's also considerably larger, and sports thinner side bezels. This is consistent with most reports about the new iPhone. Apple is also believed to be working a on 5.5-inch model, though, whereas the panel seems closer to the anticipated 4.7-inch size.
Might theoretically be justified by larger screen size
Apple has been asking carriers for approval to raise the base subsidized price of the iPhone 6 from $199 to $299, claims Jefferies analyst Peter Misek. The carriers have allegedly balked at the idea so far. Apple could potentially justify the increase due to the phone's bigger size; it's unclear in fact if the hike would apply to the 4.7-inch model or the 5.5-inch one, since Misek refers to just one iPhone 6. Many shoppers would likely assume a 5.5-inch phone would be more expensive.
Existence of molds suggests Foxconn almost ready to go into production
(Updated with Nowhereelse mold photo) Photos posted to Chinese site Sina Weibo show what appear to be schematics and case molds for a next-generation iPhone. The schematics indicate a design roughly consistent with current iPhones, including touches like chamfered edges and thin bezels. It's difficult to determine size, but one obvious difference is the phone's depth, which is even thinner than the iPhone 5s.
Uncertain if device will have Apple sanction
Car audio and navigation company Alpine will start selling its first aftermarket CarPlay upgrade in the fall, according to Nikkei. Details are relatively scarce, but the unit will reportedly cost between $500 and $700, and "likely" measure 7 inches. Given the nature of CarPlay, the unit will presumably need to be dealer-installed.
Sony rolls out the PHA-2 portable headphone amp for smartphones, PCs
Just as Apple seems to have switched its attention away from standalone music players in favor of its iPhone and iPad businesses, Sony has made a play for the burgeoning high-resolution audio market. One of its latest high-resolution audio devices is the PHA-2 portable headphone amplifier that has been designed to work particularly well with Macs and Apple's iPhone and iPads. Not only does the device sport an in-built battery for use on the go, it also includes a high-quality DAC that supports 24-bit/192kHz audio files that includes a digital input for iPhones and iPads. Helping improve sound quality further, it also includes separate operational and headphone amplifiers.
Tweet: 'Both sides relying on stories to sell jury, Samsung borrowing Google's'
At the end of the twelth day of the Apple-Samsung trial, and fifth day of testimony, Apple rested its case against Samsung following a detailed presentation from "microeconomist" and PhD Chris Vellturo in which he explained for the jury exactly how he calculated the $2.191 billion in damages Samsung should owe Apple for its infringement. Samsung, which has admitted in an earlier damages retrial that it copied from Apple, began presenting its defense -- by borrowing a Google software executive.
Samsung begins its defense, downplays Apple patents, losses
Apple's presentation to the jury in the second Apple-Samsung patent trial is over, with attorneys for the iPhone maker resting their case as expected on Friday following the completion of damages expert Christopher Vellturo's detailed explanation of why Apple is asking for $2.191 billion in total from Samsung. Apple had one final witness on its list, but decided against calling him following Vellturo's testimony. Samsung has already begun its presentation, which seeks to minimize the value of Apple's royalties and calls the damages estimate "grossly inflated."
iOS home screen improvements
This week in the MacNN forums, members discuss ways that Apple could change the home screen in iOS after "Hawykeye_a" noted that there hasn't been any real changes in the way that iOS works and provided some suggestions of things he thought could be modified. Today, one Fresh-Faced Recruit was looking for a way to edit icons on their Mac, and turned to the forums for advice.
Leaks emerging from Apple suppliers?
A new photo shows what are alleged to be two of the first third-party cases produced for the iPhone 6. While there are no earlier iPhones or accessories in the image for comparison, the cases are said to fit 4.7- and 5.5/5.7-inch devices. One unusual aspect of their design is the presence of an extra cutout on one side, and what appears to be a relocated power button cutout on top. It's unclear what the additional cutout might be for.
Charming, surprising, intriguing finds coming to market soon
Now that we've had time to recover from the fury of meeting so many vendors at this year's Macworld, MacNN and Electronista have had a little time to reflect on some of the products and services we saw there. Many have yet to come to market -- a running joke was the number of projects crowdfunded last summer that will be arriving in stores soon -- some have won awards, and some are just little gems we were delighted, intrigued and wowed by. First up in this ongoing series is a successful Kickstarter startup, Glowdeck.
Might accompany rumored overhaul of iTunes Store
[Updated with Apple hiring details] Following on the heels of a claim that Apple is planning to "dramatically" overhaul the iTunes music store in the near future, a previous rumor that the company was considering offering "high-resolution" 24-bit music tracks has gained new currency. Apple has been reported to be looking for ways to boost digital music sales, which have seen a slump as users spend more time listening to on-demand streaming services like Spotify. The higher-quality music files would likely be offered in a lossless format.
Suggests new phone will be extremely thin
A virtual model from a Chinese casemaker, Elam, is purported to show the dimensions of the next-generation iPhone, reports say. While similar in some respects to the iPhone 5s, the model depicts a device that's larger vertically and horizontally, yet even thinner depthwise. That thinness is presumably possible because Apple has more lateral space available for internal parts.
Technology too 'notoriously difficult'
Apple's suspected movements towards in-house baseband development are unlikely to bear any fruit in new iPhones until 2015 at the earliest, says JP Morgan analyst Rod Hall. Baseband chips are said to be "notoriously difficult" to develop. As evidence he refers to Broadcom, which despite being the source of some of Apple's recent hires, struggled to develop an LTE modem.
iTunes Radio failing to convert listeners into buyers
Apple is considering a major overhaul of the iTunes Music Store in light of iTunes Radio failing to slow the decline of music downloads, say anonymous executives allegedly familiar with the company's plans. One of the key features of iTunes Radio, from Apple's perspective, is the ease with which it lets people by music from the iTunes Store. Only about 1 to 2 percent of people are actually tapping the Buy button though, and overall music downloads have declined by more than 15 percent.
Could have significant impact on iOS 9 and beyond
Apple's Human Interface VP, Greg Christie, will soon leave the company following a conflict with design lead Jonathan Ive, sources say. Ive assumed control of both hardware and software interface design after iOS head Scott Forstall was forced out. Until this week, however, Christie was more directly responsible for Apple software design, and is credited not only with helping to invent the iOS interface -- including patented concepts like slide-to-unlock -- but influencing the direction of app design via his WWDC presentations.
Includes 64-bit support
Aviary has launched a major update to its Photo Editor SDK for iOS, used by a number of photography-related apps. The SDK includes a new UI scheme, aligned with changes made in iOS 7. Developers can choose to customize the editor to suit their particular apps. Aviary has also improved the code's efficiency, for instance by shrinking the SDK, and boosting performance in finished apps through changes like 64-bit support.
Data plan add first by T-Mobile in the next three days
T-Mobile today introduced a new entry-level Simple Starter value plan. The new $40 plan gives users unlimited talk and text, and 500MB of 4G/LTE data. The move is the first one for the week, which CEO John Legere calls "three days of UnCarrier" in a blog post calling the other carriers to task for predatory pricing and "obscene" price hikes.
May support rumors of Apple moving baseband design in-house
Two senior baseband engineers have left Broadcom for Apple this year, says AppleInsider. One of these is Paul Chang, who worked at Broadcom for 11 years, and was the RF hardware lead on baseband transceivers used by Nokia and Samsung. Chang's name is also on three Broadcom patents related to circuit manufacturing. According to his LinkedIn profile, Chang is now a senior program manager at Apple, having joined the company in February.
May back earlier claim of staggered launches
A 4.7-inch iPhone will start production in July, but a 5.5-inch model will only enter manufacturing in September, claims Taiwanese publication the Industrial & Commercial Times. July production would be in keeping with Apple's normal September/October iPhone launch window; starting in September, though, would imply a launch in late October at best, and most likely November. Apple typically needs two months to churn out enough units to meet launch demand.
Apple reveals total damages and royalties sought from Samsung
The fourth day of testimony in the second Apple vs. Samsung trial has ended, with various Apple-hired experts and employees going over the nature of the patents at stake in Apple's part of the case. The jury also got a dose of history borrowed from the first patent trial, details about Apple's manufacturing process, and finally heard the full, exact amount that Apple is seeking from Samsung in terms of both damages due to lost sales as well as what it owes in royalties for its infringement: $2.191 billion.
PayPal Here for iOS receives update
PayPal announced today that its point-of-sale app, PayPal Here, has been updated. The app allows users to facilitate payment transactions on their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch with its accompanying card reader, accepting debit and credit cards. The latest version of PayPal Here now includes a dynamic search tool, a streamlined custom inventory entry system, as well as the ability to swipe cards at any moment during the order process. Enhanced cart views and simplified order entry fields for quicker sales processing are also included. PayPal Here for iPhone and iPod touch, with a separate version for iPad, is free to download, and require iOS 6 in conjunction with a free PayPal card reader.
Apple allegedly aiming at 65 million iWatches by end of year
The Apple iWatch will ship in the third quarter of the year and be manufactured by Quanta Computer, claims Taiwan's Economic Daily News, as quoted by Digitimes. Two other companies, Richtek and TPK, will reportedly be supplying chips and sapphire touch panels. The watch's processor is expected to be developed by Apple, but manufactured by Samsung, which currently handles all iOS processor production. Apple is said to be aiming at having 65 million iWatches assembled by the end of 2014.
Apple's case continues with engineer Deniau, experts Mowry and Snoeren
Over the weekend, Apple filed a notice with the court that it could wrap up its main presentation by tomorrow at the earliest, but expects to be done no later than Friday, barring any changes to Samsung's pattern of cross-examination. On Monday, patent expert Andrew Cockburn from New Zealand was summoned back to the witness stand for a scant 16 minutes of light cross-examination, followed by testimony from Apple engineer Thomas Deniau and a pair of additional patent experts.
Stronger March sales could help offset weak quarter overall
Analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald, who is currently on a tour of Asia and meeting with partners in Apple's supply chain and resellers, has told investors in a memo on Monday that his sources indicate that Apple sales strengthened substantially in March, following a "soft" January and February. While still believing that sales will be down 24 percent from the holiday quarter (compared to an average drop of 19 percent), White said Apple may still "surprise" analysts -- who have been expecting revenue to be generally flat -- in its next earnings report.
Marketing head rejected suggestions company needed scrutiny
In a series of early 2013 emails, Apple's marketing lead Phil Schiller delivered angry words to long-time Apple advertising partner TBWAChiatDay, and specifically its Apple-dedicated Media Arts Lab, according to documents exposed through the ongoing Apple v. Samsung trial. As was mentioned in court, Schiller was upset with a Wall Street Journal piece arguing that Apple had "lost its cool" to Samsung. He forwarded the story to TBWA, simply commenting that "we have a lot of work to do to turn this around."
Memo talks developing 'countermeasures'
An internal Samsung document from late 2011, obtained by AppleInsider, posits "beating Apple" as the company's top priority for the following year. The document discusses "lessons learned" from 2011, and says that the "threat from Apple is extremely real and urgent." It lays out various strategies the company was planning to implement; while some of these weren't directly targeted at Apple, the memo also refers trying to "understand why consumers buy Apple and develop countermeasures by carrier/retailer."
Initiative continues slow international expansion
Apple's iPhone Reuse and Recycling Program is now in effect in German Apple Stores. As elsewhere, the plan lets people get credit towards a new iPhone by trading in eligible older models. In Germany, Apple is offering up to €230 in credit, depending on the model and its condition.
Shows interest in Apple TV, MobileMe improvements
As a byproduct of the patent trial between Apple and Samsung currently going on in San Francisco, a number of previously-confidential Apple emails have seen the light of day. Some talk about how to react to Samsung's marketing bombardment, since it outspent all rivals but Apple combined on advertising its smartphones; others reveal additional details on things already known. A 2010 email from Steve Jobs, shown in court, reveals a little of how Apple works to improve itself.
New details on competition emerge; lies told in court, says Apple
The second full day of the second Apple-Samsung patent trial is over, with Phil Schiller starting the day by continuing to submit to cross-examination by Samsung attorney Bill Price. Also on the stand on Friday was early iPhone engineer Greg Christie, and Apple-hired patent expert witness Dr. Andrew Cockburn. In the course of proceedings, some additional details about how buyers perceive the iPhone and its creation were revealed, and Judge Lucy Koh ruled against Apple on two objections.
Rivals filling voids iPhone isn't, sales team member says
Although Apple has outwardly projected an image of total confidence in the iPhone, and criticized competing devices, some people in the company have been worried about advances made by rivals, according to an internal document presented during the ongoing Apple v. Samsung trial. "Competitors have drastically improved their hardware and in some cases their ecosystems," an Apple sales team member wrote in a document for a FY2014 offsite meeting. The person also noted that all of the growth in the smartphone industry is coming from big-screen models over $300, or from devices under the $300 mark. The iPhone is neither cheap nor equipped with a large display.
Vendors looking forward to big-screen iPhones
Carriers and other vendors in China are seeing relatively weak demand for the iPhone 5s, suggests Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White. White is currently touring the country and speaking with various parties. Instead demand is said to be rising for various local smartphone brands, like Xiaomi. Vendors are, however, said to be expressing "great enthusiasm around the potential for Apple to introduce a larger iPhone form factor in China this year with the iPhone 6."
Revamped HTC One M8 knocks Galaxy S4 from second at Verizon
The iPhone -- specifically, the iPhone 5s -- has been the top seller at all four major US carriers since its introduction, a trend that continued in March according to figures compiled by Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley. The year-old Samsung Galaxy S4 took second place among three of the four carriers, though it was knocked out of second at Verizon by the new HTC One M8. The S4 took third at Verizon, with the company's Note 3 phablet taking third at AT&T and Sprint, while the LG G2 took third at T-Mobile.
Touch ID more reliable, but S5 swipe reader able to be used with more merchants
A new video posted to YouTube offers a head-to-head demonstration of the iPhone 5s' "Touch ID" fingerprint-recognition technology and the "swipe-style" fingerprint reader found in Samsung's Galaxy S5, its just-released latest flagship smartphone. Over the course of five minutes, the poster of the video makes clear that Touch ID, first introduced late last year, continues to offer a better overall experience. The clip covers the technical aspects of both companies' approaches.
Analyst notes mystery $250M payment to buyer of Apple RAM supplier Elpida
Independent analyst Matt Margolis has reported on a mysterious $250 million payment to memory maker Micron, which in turn last summer bought out another memory manufacturing firm, Elpida, for $2 billion. Among Elpida's many customers, one in particular has a habit of being both secretive and willing to pay large sums in advance to procure supply -- Apple. If the payment is from the iPhone maker, it may be trying to lock in supplies of Micron's new LPDDR4 DRAM.
Messages can be sent to non-Vine users
Twitter-owned Vine has updated its iOS and Android apps with a new direct messaging feature. The option lets people send videos privately, regardless of whether the recipient is a Vine user. People who don't have a Vine account will instead get the videos via SMS or email.
Delivers push notifications based on IFTTT conditions
Service-linking website IFTTT (If This Then That) has updated its iOS app with its first-ever iPad support, and more significantly, its entire platform with support for iOS push notifications. That means that any recipe can now trigger notifications on an iOS device. If a weather service is forecasting a storm for tomorrow, for example, the IFTTT app can display an alert. Most recipes are said to refresh every 15 minutes, though notifications should become faster as more people use them.