Thursday December 12, 2013 7:08 am PST by Eric Slivka
Fleksy today announced that its predictive touch keyboard is now available for iOS developers to incorporate into their apps through an SDK, allowing developers to replace the default iOS keyboard with Fleksy's popular alternative keyboard.
Fleksy's keyboard includes a number of features including sophisticated prediction and autocorrection, as well as swipe-based functions such as space and delete. The Verge has more on the launch:
Bringing Fleksy to other iOS apps is not without its challenges. Unlike Android, which is open to all sorts of third-party keyboard creations, Apple gives you its keyboard and nothing else. Developers can build their own special keyboards on an app-by-app basis, though it's uncommon. Google's done that with a handful of its iOS apps, while Wolfram Alpha's special search app keyboard takes up nearly the entire screen with custom buttons. Although it was rumored Apple was considering opening up to third-party keyboard makers, ultimately it didn't. But it did throw developers a bone by simplifying its software tools, says Fleksy founder Ioannis Verdelis.
"With every new version of iOS the work required on our part to build a keyboard SDK has reduced significantly," he says. "We're [now] doing stuff on iOS that integrates the keyboard deeper than it's ever been integrated."
Fleksy's iOS SDK initiative launches today with four apps:
- BlindSquare: Combines location and FourSquare information to assist visually impaired users in their daily lives [Direct Link]
Thursday December 12, 2013 4:26 am PST by Richard Padilla
A judge representing the Seoul Central District Court in South Korea has dismissed a Samsung lawsuit stating that Apple had infringed on three of the company's patents, removing the opportunity for Samsung to receive monetary benefits and impose a sales ban on the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, reports Reuters. The verdict comes after a August 2012 ruling by a South Korean court declaring that Samsung and Apple had violated each others patents, ultimately resulting in the sales ban of some older products from both companies in South Korea.
A judge at the Seoul Central District Court said Apple products such as the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and iPad2 did not violate Samsung patents on short message display methods and messaging grouping features.
The court ruled against a sale ban on the products and threw out Samsung's claim for 100 million won ($95,100) in damages.
"We are glad the Korean court joined others around the world in standing up for real innovation and rejecting Samsung's ridiculous claims," Apple Korea spokesman Steve Park said.
In the same ruling, the court also fined Samsung 25 million won (approximately $23,800) for violating the "rubber banding" patent that enables a visual effect when scrolling through a page on a touch-screen device.
Last year, Samsung was ordered to pay Apple a total of $1.05 billion after a U.S. jury found the South Korean company guilty of willfully violating multiple Apple patents. Back in March, Judge Lucy Koh struck $450 million from the $1 billion awarded to Samsung after deciding the jury may have miscalculated the damages due to a misunderstanding of patent issues.
A retrial held last month found Samsung liable for $290 million in damages. The company replying to the verdict by filing a motion to halt payment, requesting a reevaluation of the validity of No. 7,844,915 covering Apple's “pinch-to-zoom“ gestures. The motion to stay the damages however was denied, with a reevaluation of the pinch-to-zoom patent still set to take place.
Wednesday December 11, 2013 3:15 pm PST by Juli Clover
In June, Apple filed a new patent application [PDF] with the European Patent Office describing a system using an in-car accessory with an iOS device to set up geofences to activate various vehicle functions as a user approaches a vehicle.
According to the 15-claim application, which specifically describes "Accessory control with geo-fencing", the accessory (which may or may not be built-in to the car itself) would transmit a signal to a linked mobile device, allowing the device to monitor the location of a vehicle. When the mobile device (and the user) are close enough to the car, the mobile device would transmit a second signal to the accessory within the car, allowing it to trigger functions like door unlocking, defrosting, heating, trunk opening, seat warming, and more.
The first signal can identify a current or future location of the vehicle. The mobile phone can generate one or more virtual geofences based at least in part on the location of the vehicle as determined from the first signal. For example, a geofence can be defined as a circular boundary centered on the vehicle's location, the radius being equal to a pre-defined distance. The mobile phone can repeatedly estimate its own location.
Upon detecting that the mobile phone has crossed a geofence (e.g., generally or in a particular direction), the mobile phone can generate and transmit a second signal to the vehicle. The accessory can control or coordinate control of one or more vehicle functions in response to receipt of the second signal.
Apple notes that geofences can be made in shapes that parallel vehicle components for very specific in-app functions. For example, a geofence could be tied specifically to a trunk or a door, with the mobile device able to identify the absolute-location boundaries of each individual geofence. With such accurate geofencing, a car's trunk could be opened as a user approaches, for groceries or bags to be put away, while the car doors stay locked until later approached.
Geofences can also function on time, with features like a car's heating system able to be activated when a mobile device estimates that an owner is "five minutes away and approaching the vehicle."
Like Apple's iBeacons, which are designed to transmit specific location information to mobile devices, Apple's vehicle accessory system would potentially send signals over Bluetooth LE to activate various functions within the car. Apple suggests Wi-Fi and cellular hardware could also be included in order for the accessory to communicate with mobile devices when owners are located far from their cars.
Along with serving as a possible expansion of the use of Apple's iBeacon technology, the geofencing system described in the patent could also be a future expansion of Apple's iOS in the Car initiative, which is designed to provide enhanced iOS integration in automobiles.
The first hints of iOS in the Car have been bundled into the new 2014 Honda Civic, allowing users to access HondaLink apps for iOS to connect to an iPhone 5 or later. Apple's ultimate goal for iOS in the Car is far more advanced, however, with iOS built-in to in-dash systems.
The patent, which was filed in June and published in November, lists former Apple employee Sylvain Louboutin as an inventor.
Wednesday December 11, 2013 11:41 am PST by Jordan Golson
Earlier this year, Apple design chief Jony Ive and designer Marc Newson created a number of one-of-a-kind items to be sold at a Sotheby's charity auction to benefit Product (RED). Two items in particular were Apple related, a pair of solid gold Apple EarPods and a new Mac Pro with a special red finish.
According to a pair of tweets by photographer Kevin Abosch, Tony Fadell -- one of the creators of the iPod and the founder of Nest, the company behind the Nest Thermostat and Protect smoke detector -- may have purchased both the Mac Pro and the EarPods at the auction.
The Mac Pro sold for $977,000 while the solid gold EarPods sold for $461,000. Other items sold at the auction included a Steinway & Sons grand piano that sold for $1,925,000 and a magnum of Dom Perignon 1966 with a custom red label that sold for $93,750.
Wednesday December 11, 2013 11:31 am PST by Juli Clover
Google today announced that it is bringing Chrome Apps to the Mac, following a beta period that began in May. First introduced in September for Windows and Chromebook users, Chrome Apps are designed to function like native Mac apps, working offline, updating automatically, and syncing on any computer where a user is signed into Chrome.
Chrome Apps work offline, update automatically and sync to any computer where you're signed into Chrome, so you can pick up where you left off. Your Chrome Apps on Mac behave and feel just like native software. For example, you can find your Chrome Apps in the Applications folder on the Dock. Search for apps by name in the Spotlight search—just like any other Mac program that you already use.
Chrome Apps, which are separate from Chrome browser apps, are downloaded into the applications folder and work like any other Mac app. The apps have access to local storage for offline support, differentiating them from standard Chrome apps, and are able to easily sync content between multiple computers.
Chrome Apps for the Mac also work with Google's Chrome App Launcher, which will be automatically installed when any Chrome App is downloaded. The Chrome App Launcher aggregates all Chrome Apps into one convenient expandable grid on the Mac's dock.
Google has several different fully functional Chrome Apps available for download from its Chrome Web Store, including offerings like video editing app WeVideo Next and project management app Smartsheet.
Wednesday December 11, 2013 10:14 am PST by Jordan Golson
Southwest Airlines is offering passengers the ability to send and receive iMessages from their iOS devices in-flight for $2 per day. In-flight Wi-Fi access for all applications is available for $8 per device per day.
It's likely that the airline is opening up iMessage related ports to users who pay the $2, while users who pay more receive access to in-flight email, social networks and the like. For a limited time, all users receive access to 13 live television channels on laptops and iOS devices for free.
Beginning today, Southwest is enabling iMessage for $2 a day!
Any Apple user that has iOS 5 or later with the iMessage feature pre-loaded on their device can take advantage of this option. Now you can stay powered up and connected to friends and family like you never left the ground.
In-flight Wi-Fi is not yet available on all Southwest flights, but the airline has a Wi-Fi finder on its website so flyers can check if their aircraft will support the service.
Wednesday December 11, 2013 9:43 am PST by Jordan Golson
PROMISE Technology is now shipping its Thunderbolt 2 RAID systems ahead of the new Mac Pro's promised December release. The arrays were first announced back in October but are now available through a number of retail channels.
The Pegasus2 line of RAID arrays allow for simultaneous transfer and display of 3D and 4K video files. They work with the new MacBook Pro with Retina display released in October, as well as the new Mac Pro when it launches later this month.
"Pegasus2 is truly one-of-a-kind, as there has never before been a storage solution that offered such an incredible combination of performance, mobility, and simplicity," said James Lee, CEO, PROMISE Technology. "We are thrilled that Pegasus2 is the first storage solution available with Thunderbolt 2 -- this further illustrates PROMISE's position as a leader in Thunderbolt technology."
The Pegasus 2 is available in 4-bay, 6-bay, and 8-bay configurations with 8TB, 12TB, 18TB, 24TB and 32TB capacities through the Apple Online Store and elsewhere. Pricing ranges from $1,499 to $4,599, though some retailers are offering modest discounts off PROMISE's MSRP.
Wednesday December 11, 2013 8:52 am PST by Eric Slivka
Following last week's addition of an iPhone 6 roundup, MacRumors today is publishing a new Apple TV roundup covering not only Apple's current set-top box and rumors for future enhancements, but also long-running rumors of a dedicated Apple television set.
While Apple has been busy increasing the amount of content available through the current Apple TV, there is still uncertainty about timing for new television-related hardware from the company. A dedicated Apple television set has been rumored for a number of years, with Steve Jobs having been quoted in his 2011 biography as saying "I finally cracked it" with regard to a television interface concept, but signs continue to suggest that release is not yet imminent.
Apple has also been rumored to be working on Kinect-like motion control for the Apple TV, and Apple's acquisition of PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect motion control technology, last month has continued to fuel that speculation. But whether that technology will make its way into the next Apple TV as part of a radical revamp or if the next-generation box will primarily be an iterative update based on improved internals remains to be seen.
Wednesday December 11, 2013 7:28 am PST by Eric Slivka
Apple today added yet another set of channels to its Apple TV set-top box, including a "Watch ABC" channel to allow subscribers to certain cable services to watch content from their local ABC affiliate through Apple TV. Other additions include financial channel Bloomberg, streaming movie and TV show channel Crackle, and Korean channel KORTV.
Apple has already streamlined the process of building its current lineup of Apple TV apps— which mostly consist of streaming video content— to the point where developers can quickly and easy build apps through an easy to use SDK, much like on iOS. The team behind the development of the Bloomberg app, which consisted of two developers under Bloomberg’s head of mobile and connected devices Oke Okaro, told me that Apple’s toolkit, an SDK of sorts, has “made it quite easy to build the apps.” The team of two developers along with Okaro built the app in just five weeks. Most of that time was spent testing and optimizing the video experience.
Apple reportedly provided some input and feedback along
Wednesday December 11, 2013 6:15 am PST by Richard Padilla
Chinese labor rights group China Labor Watch (CLW) is calling for answers from primary Apple supplier Pegatron after the death of five young workers in recent months, highlighted by the passing of a fifteen year old factory worker due to pneumonia related causes in October, reports The New York Times. The laborer, Shi Zhaokun, was able to secure a job at a Pegatron factory producing the iPhone 5c by presenting a fake ID stating that he was 20, reportedly working a total of 280 hours in his only month at the company.
Apple’s supplier responsibility statement bars employees of supplier companies in China from working more than 60 hours a week; so does Chinese law. But Mr. Shi worked 79 hours in his first week, 77 in his second and 75 in his third, all apparently in violation of the law, according to documents provided by his family.
Pegatron said that the work logs the family kept are records of when the young man clocked in and out, and may not include breaks. The company said his hours did not exceed the legal limit.
A Pegatron spokeswoman said that the death of the worker was “not related to the workplace environment“, while Apple has not officially commented on the incident. In July, China Labor Group alleged numerous safety and workplace violations at Pegatron, including the unethical holding of worker pay and identification cards, as well as poor living conditions within the factory including tight living quarters and packed cafeterias. Apple replied to the allegations, confirming various labor violations and vowing to investigate the incident.
Tuesday December 10, 2013 10:53 pm PST by Jordan Golson
Wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon will not be able to continue the smartphone subsidy model that has driven widespread smartphone penetration to this point. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, speaking at an investor conference today, said the current model is not economically viable, reported CNET.
With more than 75 percent of mobile phone users owning smartphones -- and that number growing towards 90 percent -- Stephenson said carriers will "move into maintenance mode" and that "the model has to change" because carriers "can't afford to subsidize devices like that". Many higher-end smartphone power users also tend to upgrade their phones as often as possible, something that can become expensive for carriers subsidizing those purchases to the tune of hundreds of dollars per device.
Stephenson also acknowledged that breaking customers of their habit of upgrading to a new phone every 18 months to two years is not an easy task. But he said a business models focused on financing rather than providing a subsidy would be "transformative" for the industry. He said the company's new AT&T Next program, which offers no-money down and 0-percent financing, drives smartphone penetration in a way that is more sustainable over time.
"If you are a customer and you don't need to upgrade your device, you can get unlimited talk and text and access to the data network for $45 all-in," he said. "You can use your own device or finance it. I think this will be very powerful. It's where we see the market going."
As part of a larger strategy to move away from straight device subsidies, AT&T rolled
Tuesday December 10, 2013 10:58 am PST by Eric Slivka
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published a newly granted Apple patent describing a goggle-like video headset designed to allow users to view media while on the go but with a much larger view than on their mobile device's built-in display (via Patently Apple).
Apple's patent is a relatively straightforward one with a single independent claim outlining a headset that contains adjustable optical modules for lining up with the user's eyes, but the full description of Apple's ideas includes such topics as allowing displays for each eye to be individually focused to provide vision correction, as well as possibilities for 3-D viewing similar to Oculus Rift's virtual reality headset.
A goggle system for providing a personal media viewing experience to a user is provided. The goggle system may include an outer cover, a mid-frame, optical components for generating the media display, and a lens on which the generated media displayed is provided to the user. The goggle system, or head mounted display may have any suitable appearance. For example, the goggle system may resemble ski or motorcycle goggles. To enhance the user's comfort, the goggle system may include breathable components, including for example breathable foam that rests against the user's face, and may allow the user to move the display generation components for alignment with the user's eyes. In some embodiments, the goggle system may include data processing circuitry operative to adjust left and right images generated by the optical components to display 3-D media, or account for a user's eyesight
Tuesday December 10, 2013 10:13 am PST by Juli Clover
Qualcomm has announced the launch of its Gimbal proximity beacons, which are designed to work similarly to Apple's own iBeacons. Like iBeacons, Qualcomm's proximity beacons serve as physical Bluetooth access points that interact with apps on iPhones and iPads over Bluetooth LE.
Qualcomm's overall Gimbal platform is billed as a "context aware" proximity platform allowing brands to deliver information to customers based on physical location, activity, time, and personal interests.
Gimbal helps increase the relevance of content delivered to end users' devices, filtering out the irrelevant and offering more personalized experiences, thereby allowing retailers, venues, content providers and developers to send personalized high-value content to enhance their users' mobile devices.
The Gimbal beacons, which support iOS out of the box with an accompanying SDK that can be built into apps, come in two different sizes that are accurate down to one foot both indoors and outdoors. The Series 10 beacons cost as little as $5, while the larger Series 20 beacons start at $10. Individual iBeacon-compatible beacons from other companies are more expensive, at approximately $100 for three.
Apple's iBeacons, first introduced earlier this year at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, are already in use in a number of different locations.
Back in November, Shopkickteamed up with Macy's to debut the first retail-based iBeacons, allowing customers to find location-specific deals and recommendations within the app while visiting a participating Macy’s store.
Tuesday December 10, 2013 8:10 am PST by Eric Slivka
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who has regularly assessed Siri's accuracy in terms of correctly interpreting and answering queries, has issued the latest version of his Siri report card, noting that Siri has continued to improve under iOS 7, particularly in terms of being able to properly interpret questions being asked.
The primary improvement between Siri in iOS 6 and iOS 7 came from its performance in noisier areas, where Siri was able to translate better through a noisy environment (94% vs. 83% correct in Aug iOS 6). Based on our testing, iOS 7 Siri's net ability to answer questions (factors in questions not correctly understood) improved to 79% from 77% in August with iOS 6.
The improvements in Siri's understanding come alongside but separate from Apple's continued efforts to reduce its reliance on Google, as evidenced by Siri's shift to emphasize Bing, Wikipedia, and WolframAlpha results. In Munster's most recent testing, only 4 percent of Siri's answers relied on Google, compared to 17 percent in August testing and 27 percent in December 2012.
Click for larger Munster also compares Siri to Google Now, finding that the two services are now essentially tied in effectiveness with a "C+" score after Siri held a substantial lead in the year-ago testing. In the latest testing, Google Now held small leads in content areas such as commerce and information, while Siri performed significantly better for operating system controls.
Tuesday December 10, 2013 6:42 am PST by Richard Padilla
Less than a week after experiencing a significant improvement in shipping times for new online orders throughout the world, the iPhone 5s has seen its availability improve once again with models now shipping "within 24 hours" in nearly all of Apple's online stores for countries around the world. The GSM-compatible SIM-free iPhone has also improved to a shipping estimate of 3-5 business days.
Following the launch of the iPhone 5s, supplies were significantly constrained, especially for silver and gold models. Shipping estimates slipped to 7 to 10 days hours after the phone was released and then slipped further to two to three weeks for an extended period of time. The rapid improvement in availability indicates that Apple is quickly reaching supply-demand balance for the iPhone 5s three months after its debut.
According to reports, Apple has significantly ramped up its iPhone 5s production over the course of the last month while cutting back on iPhone 5c production, which has resulted in improved supplies in time for the Christmas holiday.
In-store supplies of the iPhone 5s are also reported to be nearing 100% availability, with all colors and capacities of the phone available for immediate pickup at many of Apple's retail locations across the United States.
Last week, Apple also released shipping deadlines to ensure customers receive gifts by December 24. According to the guidelines, the iPhone 5s must be ordered by midnight December 18 to arrive ahead of
Tuesday December 10, 2013 6:15 am PST by Richard Padilla
Apple has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) detailing a manufacturing technique applied to the production of curved touch sensors to be used in existing components such as displays, touch pads, and touch mice.
The patent, which was filed in November 2010, introduces itself by describing the problem with existing touch sensor panels, stating that they are sometimes difficult to produce because of their thinness, which leads to a risk of damaging panel components. The technology in the patent however, details a curved sensor benefiting from increased strength and enhanced viewing properties without warping or deformation to the surface during initial assembly.
By depositing and patterning thin film, for example, on substrate while in a flat state, and then annealing, for example, the thin film when the substrate is joined to a forming substrate, the substrate can be curved to a desired curvature. Further, thin film can receive the benefits of the annealing process, such as increased strength and conductivity and enhanced optical properties, without undesired warping or deformation to the substrate.
In detail, the patent states that while some current electronics appear to have curved displays, the devices in question suffer from a degraded touch sensitivity because of the distance between the cover glass and the actual drive and sense electrodes in the device due to current manufacturing techniques.
Meanwhile, Apple describes its manufacturing process as allowing the thickness of a curved touch sensor panel to remain
Monday December 9, 2013 7:12 pm PST by Eric Slivka
Apple today released its annual "12 Days of Gifts" app for iOS devices, setting the stage for the actual giveaway of free content from the company's various digital stores from December 26 through January 6. Apple has offered the giveaway for ">several years in Europe, Canada, and several other countries, and in 2013 U.S. customers will have access for the first time.
From 26 December – 6 January, you can download a gift each day—songs, apps, books, movies, and more—with the 12 Days of Gifts app. Each day's gift will only be available for 24 hours, so download the free app to make sure you don’t miss out. Please note: Not all content is available in all countries.
Monday December 9, 2013 3:59 pm PST by Jordan Golson
Over the past several years, Apple has removed, denied, or otherwise prevented a number of Bitcoin-related apps from being available to users on the App Store. Most recently, the company required the developers behind Gliph -- a secure messaging app that also allowed users to transfer bitcoin from one Gliph user to another -- to remove the bitcoin sending feature from its app.
The company has told a number of developers behind Bitcoin-related apps that their apps contain content -- or facilitate, enable, or encourage an activity -- "that is not legal in all the locations in which the app is available, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines."
Bitcoin is a virtual currency, not issued by any government, that can be transferred electronically from one wallet -- basically a special computer file -- to another. The value of the currency is incredibly volatile, with its USD exchange rate going from under $400 to more than $1200 in the past month. At one point, the price of a single bitcoin moved from $1155 to $576 in a few hours. Bitcoins are currently available for around $900 on the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange.
The concept of a private, virtual currency is a foreign one for governments that can have difficulty staying in the same decade as quickly emerging technologies. Both domestic and international governments are struggling with the currency and how to regulate it. China has banned financial institutions from handling bitcoin transactions, though person-to-person transactions are still allowed.
Monday December 9, 2013 2:35 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple's former SVP of iOS software Scott Forstall has largely remained out of the spotlight since officially leaving Apple at the beginning of the year, but Amir Efrati from new technology site The Information has some news on what Forstall been up to.
According to Efrati, as relayed by Business Insider, Forstall has spent his time advising startups and becoming involved in philanthropical causes focused on education, poverty, and human rights. He also reportedly spent time traveling to various countries like Italy and South Africa, but it is unclear what his next move might entail.
As for what's next, Efrati doesn't have any news, but he says VC firms like Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz have stayed in touch, but Apple employees think Forstall's next move will be starting his own company.
Scott Forstall was a key player at Apple until late 2012, when he was ousted following Apple's iOS 6 maps debacle. Forstall originally joined Apple from Steve Jobs' company NeXT, and became famous for designing the Mac's Aqua user interface and later for leading the development of iOS and introducing many of its skeuomorphic elements.
Forstall officially resigned as the SVP of iOS software in October of 2012, reportedly staying on as an advisor to Tim Cook until 2013. Following Forstall's departure, Jony Ive, Bobs Mansfield, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi took on additional responsibilities to make up for the loss of Forstall.
Jony Ive now leads Apple's Human Interface teams, while Eddy Cue has taken over Siri and Maps and Craig Federighi leads the both iOS and OS X teams.
Monday December 9, 2013 12:17 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple has recently expanded iTunes Match availability to several Nordic countries, according to both reports on Twitter and tip from a MacRumors reader.
iTunes users in Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden now have access to the service, which has a yearly price of 249 kr in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway and €24.99 in Finland. In comparison, iTunes Match is $24.99 in the United States and £21.99 in the U.K.
First introduced in late 2011, iTunes Match allows iTunes users to match their existing iTunes libraries with high quality versions of songs from Apple's iCloud. After matching, content is available in iCloud and can be accessed from any device.
Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have also gained access to purchased music in iTunes in the Cloud, allowing previously acquired music to be downloaded on all devices.
With the introduction of iTunes Match and iTunes in the Cloud for music to additional countries today, only a few countries where Apple sells music are lacking iTunes Match or iTunes in the Cloud functionality. In Romania, Apple sells music but does not offer iTunes in the Cloud or iTunes Match, while customers in Japan can purchase music and download it via iTunes in the Cloud but cannot access iTunes Match.
All other countries where Apple sells music via iTunes now have access to both iTunes in the Cloud for music and iTunes Match. Subscribers in countries where iTunes Match is available can sign up for the service within iTunes. [Direct Link]
Update: Apple has also expanded iTunes in the Cloud support in Bulgaria and Portugal to include
MacRumors attracts a broad audience
of both consumers and professionals interested in
the latest technologies and products. We also boast an active community focused on
purchasing decisions and technical aspects of the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac platforms.