James Cull



iPhone 5C Predicted to Replace iPhone 5, iPhone 4S Sales to Continue

A new iPhone market forecast by KGI Securities predicts "substantial shipments growth" starting in August and supports the flood of rumors about a new, lower-cost "iPhone 5C", which is widely speculated to be released sometime in September. The report by Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a solid track record when it comes to Apple rumors, highlights five key trends for the upcoming few months: - The components and the EMS (electronics manufacturing services) for the new iPhone will be ramping up in late-August/early September. - Hon Hai (also known as Foxconn) will start manufacturing a version of the iPhone 5C supporting the TDD-LTE used by China Mobile in August, earlier than expected. - Models supporting the TDD-LTE standard are predicted see a penetration of 25% in iPhone 5S and 35% in iPhone 5C shipments, which may boost Apple's presence in China. - The iPhone 5 will be discontinued at the end of the third quarter, but shipments of the iPhone 4S will continue until the end of 2013. The iPhone 5C is therefore designed to replace the iPhone 5, rather than the iPhone 4S as originally predicted. - The iPhone 5S will be the more popular model and will exceed the iPhone 5C in terms of shipments. iPhone 5C rear shell compared to older iPhone models and iPod touch (Source: DetroitBORG) A move by Apple to discontinue the iPhone 5 was rumored late last month, but it would be something of a surprise for Apple to continue offering the iPhone 4S while discontinuing the iPhone 5. Many had suggested that Apple's work to launch an iPhone 5C was an effort to unify Apple's lineup around

Geekbench 3 with 15 New Benchmark Tests Released for Mac, iOS, and More

Primate Labs has announced on its blog that it has released Geekbench 3 – the first major update to the popular benchmarking service since 2007. This third iteration of Geekbench features 15 completely new benchmark tests that are designed to mimic real-world processor tasks, such as image and signal processing, encryption, and physics simulation that aim to give a more accurate score of the processing power of computers and mobile devices. The previous benchmark tests imported from Geekbench 2 have also been completely rewritten so that they are now more representative of real-world applications and usage scenarios, again allowing for a more accurate score. Geekbench 3 features a completely new scoring system whereby users now receive separate single-core and multi-core scores – in previous iterations of the program, the scores were merged together into one. Primate Labs' John Poole explains why this new "splitting" of the scores is important:While multi-core performance is becoming more relevant as applications are rewritten to take advantage of multi-core processors, single-core performance is still a very important metric because every application benefits from great single-core performance.The iOS version of Geekbench has also been updated and now features a completely new look that matches the flat interface of iOS 7. There is also Dropbox integration, so results can be shared with anyone without having to go through the Geekbench Browser, and an archive feature so users can easily view previous test results. Users who purchase Geekbench 3 before August 31

Apple Ramps Up Hiring in China with Over 250 Open Positions

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple appears to be ramping up its hiring in China, with over 250 currently open positions posted on the company's website. Alongside the usual positions of retail specialists and store leaders (there are currently 8 Apple Stores in China in the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen), Apple is hiring for a number of technical and administrative positions including an "environmental affairs program manager" and a "security specialist". Earlier this month, it was reported that two Apple suppliers and manufacturers, UniMicron and Foxconn, were accused of dumping large quantities of heavy toxic metals into nearby rivers. There have also been frequent accusations of labor law violations, with Pegatron (the company widely rumored to be the manufacturer of the upcoming iPhone 5C) being the most recent in the limelight. It therefore comes at no surprise that at least some of the positions Apple is hiring for are intended to help address these issues and comply with local regulations.The environmental affairs program manager will be based in China’s capital Beijing, the center of political power. According to the job description, the candidate has to “ensure that Apple’s products and processes meet and surpass regional and national environmental regulatory requirements.”The hiring push in China also comes just as Apple has begun hiring in Taiwan for what has been reported to be a new research and development center focused on iPhone projects. The Chinese market has been an especially difficult one for Apple, even as it

Apple Exploring Methods for Gifting Media Content Through NFC

A newly-published patent application from Apple (via AppleInsider) describes a method to allow users to "gift" media content purchased via iTunes and from their own libraries to other users through near-field communication (NFC), suggesting that the technology may eventually find a way onto iOS devices in the near future. The patent, which was filed back in March of this year and stretches over a lengthy 63 pages, describes a system whereby:...an offer and acceptance of a selected gift file is accomplished between a gifter device and a receiving giftee device using a near-field communication (NFC) connection. The filing shows a picture of a generic iPhone with an additional chip (labeled 50 in the above diagram) on both the front and rear of the device which may potentially allow users to exchange content through NFC. The patent describes two methods of "gifting" – either by purchasing the media directly from the iTunes Store and sending to another user's Apple ID or by sending a copy of already-owned media to another device, which is currently unavailable on all iOS devices. The patented method involves digital media protection keys, such as a DRM key, that allows the "gifted" file to be only played on one device in accordance with copyright regulations. This is similar to the existing method of gifting through the iTunes Store, however the transfer would be over NFC, not the Internet or 3G. The NFC chip may allow for data transfer speeds of up to 560 Mbps, according to the filing, and may be compatible with the new TransferJet protocol, first developed by

Apple Files for Patent on Flexible Headphone Connectors

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published an Apple patent application (via AppleInsider) covering an idea for flexible headphone connectors to avoid plug breakage and accidental equipment damage – a common complaint of many users. The patent application, which was first filed back in June 2011 and lists Albert Golko, an iPhone and iPad product development engineering manager at Apple, as its inventor, describes a system whereby:…a portion or all of the plug connector may comprise a flexible material that allows the connector to bend with respect to an insertion axis and prevent the connector from breaking when inserted or extracted improperly. The patent describes an audio connector (i.e. a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack) that is manufactured from a flexible material that allows it to bend slightly during use. The audio connectors currently in use on most devices are inflexible and offer no strain relief, meaning that any sudden force to the headphone jack risks damaging the port, which often warrants an expensive repair. A further addition to the patent is a certain level of flexibility along the connector's length, which allows for more strain in areas that are prone to breakage, such as the tip or base of the plug. Many smartphone users are accustomed to wrapping headphones around the device, which causes an enormous amount of strain to the base of the plug. It is envisioned that Apple's patent will help reduce this slightly by providing more relief to both the headphone jack and the connector. Although the intentions of the patent application are as

China Mobile Chairman 'Positive' About Reaching iPhone Deal with Apple as iPhone 5S/5C Launch Nears

Reuters reports that recent talks between China Mobile and Apple have been progressing smoothly and that the two sides are positive about reaching an possible agreement, according to the company's chairman Xi Guohua. Mr Xi told Reuters that "both sides sounded keen" during recent talks, which have been ongoing since the start of 2011. Of the three Chinese carriers, China Mobile is the only one to utilize TD-SCDMA technology, a standard developed by the company and not supported by any current iPhone model. The carrier has also been reluctant to commit to the huge cost of marketing and handset subsidies associated with the iPhone. But new chips from Qualcomm now give Apple an opportunity to support China Mobile's network in its upcoming hardware.Apple is expected to unveil its redesigned iPhone next month and may also release a cheaper, emerging market smartphone. Crucially, it also now has Qualcomm Inc chips that can operate even on China's obscure networks. At the same time, Beijing is expected to grant 4G licenses by the year-end that favor the biggest of its domestic mobile operators. Apple has so far ducked a deal with China Mobile as this would have required a redesign inside the iPhone to work on the operator's inferior TD-SCDMA 3G technology. For its part, China Mobile has been reluctant to commit to the huge cost of marketing and subsidizing sales of the expensive iPhone.Beijing is looking to expand 4G networks within China by the end of the year and the licenses are expected to be based on TD-LTE technology, as supposed to the more widely-used FDD-LTE, both

WhatsApp Rival WeChat Continues Strong Growth as User Base Tops 235 Million

The latest earnings report by Tencent, a Chinese Internet giant, has revealed that the cross-platform instant messaging service WeChat and its counterpart Weixin have hit a combined high of 235.8 million users monthly, an increase of 176.8% year-on-year. WeChat's usage figure is just shy of that of WhatsApp, which exceeded 300 million monthly users last month and is currently the world's most popular cross-platform messenger. An update to WhatsApp last week provided one-tap voice messaging across all platforms. WeChat's rise can be partially attributed to increased marketing efforts by Tencent, which owns WeChat, as the Internet giant attempts to establish a more solid presence in the mobile world. The company recently signed Lionel Messi, an Argentinian footballer widely considered to be one of the best in the world, as its product ambassador and a recent report by GSMInsider revealed that 70 million WeChat users are located outside of China. The app is currently available on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and Symbian devices and is available in a number of different languages, including English, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Portuguese. Although WeChat is similar to WhatsApp, the service is mainly tailored towards Chinese users. A recent update last week added the ability to purchase stickers from a built-in store and search for nearby friends using the "Hold Together" function. The Q2 earnings report showed that Tencent experienced a 156.5% year-on-year increase in "e-commerce transactions", which were up to RMB 2.199.4 million ($356 million).

O2 Details 4G Tariffs in the UK, Plans Start From £22/Month

Following its announcement a couple of weeks ago, British carrier O2 has now detailed the costs of its 4G tariffs on its website, with airtime plans starting from £22 (around $34) monthly. The plans, which all include unlimited calling minutes and texts to any British network, include either 1 GB, 3 GB or 5 GB of data, with extra available to users who sign up before the end of October.Customers who also want to choose a new device have a range of options through O2 Refresh, which uniquely gives O2 customers the flexibility to get the latest device whenever they want. Airtime plans for O2 Refresh start from £22 a month for 1GB of data, and go up to £37 for 8GB. Customers have the flexibility to choose a 4G device at a price per month that suits them. The monthly device payment will range from £10 to £25, dependent on how a customer chooses to pay for one of over 10 4G-ready devices in O2’s range. The new 4G plans also include a complementary 12-month subscription to O2 Tracks, the carrier's streaming music service, and feature "exclusive multiplayer online gaming" to try and entice users to sign up. Both EE and Vodafone, two other British carriers, also feature exclusive deals to new users who sign up to their 4G plans. Vodafone became the third British carrier to announce 4G services a week ago and is planning to offer a promotional subscription to Spotify Premium and an exclusive deal with Sky Sports Mobile TV with its 4G plans, though there is no word yet on pricing. EE, which is currently the market leader in 4G services in the UK, offers a subscription to Deezer,

Obama Administration Vetoes Partial Ban on Apple Products

The Obama administration has vetoed a partial ban on the import and sale of some Apple products which was granted back in June in response to a ruling made by the USITC (United States International Trade Commission). The ban, which applied to AT&T models of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, and the 3G models of the iPad and the iPad 2, was granted after the USITC found that the aforementioned products infringed on a Samsung patent, specifically Patent No. 7,706,348, titled "Apparatus and method for encoding/decoding transport format combination indicator in CDMA mobile communication system." Today, in a letter to Irving A. Williamson, the Chairman of the USITC, the United States Trade Representative Michael B. G. Froman declared the following: After extensive consultations with the agencies of the Trade Policy Staff Committee and the Trade Policy Review Group [...] I have decided to disapprove the USITC’s determination to issue an exclusion order and cease and desist order in this investigation.The letter further went on to note that the Obama administration was "committed to promoting innovation and economic progress, including through providing adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights". The Verge has noted that this is the first time since 1987 that the President of the United States has interfered with a decision from the ITC. This comes after the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) recently criticised this sort of use of sales bans (rather than monetary compensation) as a means of executing patent infringement – as it in effect

Readdle Offering Up to 70% Discount Off iOS Apps

Ukraine-based developers Readdle are offering up to 70% discount off their iOS applications for both the iPhone and iPad as part of their sixth birthday celebrations. The team is behind some of the most popular productivity devices for iOS devices, including Documents, PDF Expert and Scanner Pro. The price drops are valid for the next 48 hours, after which all the applications will revert back to their normal prices. Readdle apps on sale include: - Scanner Pro: $1.99, down from $6.99 [Direct Link] - PDF Expert for iPhone and iPad: : $4.99, down from $9.99 [Direct Links: iPhone/iPad] - Printer Pro for iPhone and iPad: $1.99, down from $6.99 [Direct Links: iPhone/iPad] - Calendars+: $1.99, down from $6.99 [Direct Link] - PDF Converter: $1.99, down from $6.99 [Direct Link] - Remarks, $1.99, down from $4.99 [Direct Link] - Shakespeare Pro: $1.99, down from $9.99 [Direct Link

BlackBerry Messenger Beta Starts Rolling Out for iOS and Android Devices

According to BlackBerryOS.com, the beta version of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has started rolling out in the Beta Zone for Android and iOS devices. The Beta Zone, which is similar to Apple's Developer Center, started sending out the invites to select registered users today, with more expected to follow in the coming days and weeks. BlackBerryOS.com has also leaked several screenshots of the Android version of the app, but screenshots of the iOS version do not yet appear to be available. The beta will require iOS 6.0 or later, according to Vivek Bhardwaj, the head of the BlackBerry Software Portfolio who spoke to Trusted Reviews a couple of weeks ago. Announced in May for a summer release, BBM is expected to hit Google Play and the App Store sometime next month, although there has been no official date confirmation as of yet following an erroneous announcement from T-Moble UK having claimed a June 27 launch date. BBM is the proprietary messaging solution among BlackBerry devices and requires the use of a "PIN" – an eight character hexadecimal identification number that is uniquely assigned to every device. Currently there is no information about how BlackBerry users will add iOS or Android devices to their contacts, though the most obvious solution would be through either a phone number or e-mail address. This is the first time that BlackBerry software has been available on other smartphones and marks a radical shift in the management of the Canadian-based manufacturer. From 2012 onwards, BlackBerrys have gradually been dropping in popularity – the latest

O2 Becomes Second British Carrier to Offer 4G Services

O2 has become the second British carrier alongside EE to announce high-speed 4G services, which are due to be launched at the end of the month. The rollout, which will initially cover London, Leeds and Bradford, will start on August 29, with a further 10 cities due to be added by the end of the year. 4G price plans will start from around £26 ($39) a month and O2 is already offering several 4G-enabled phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One and the Blackberry Z10. As O2 has snapped up the 800 MHz spectrum, the new network will not be compatible with the iPhone 5, as the device operates on different spectrums. However, the CEO of Telefónica UK (the parent company of O2), told the BBC that he "would be frankly gobsmacked if their [Apple] roadmap didn't address that issue", suggesting that future models will support the new network. Due to issues with Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulator, and the delayed switch-off of the old analog television networks (the new 4G networks now operate within these frequencies), the rollout of faster LTE networks in the UK has been plagued with delays. EE, a joint subsidiary between Orange S.A. and Deutsche Telekom, was the first to roll out 4G networks back in August 2012, and its network already covers most of the UK's major towns and cities, with improvements being made daily. EE has stated that by the end of 2014 its network will cover up to 98% of the UK population (around 62 million people). The 4G auction back in February 2013, which raised around £2.3 billion ($3.5 billion) for the UK government, awarded

Apple Filling Out its 'Ground Truth' Mapping Team with New Regional and Local Job Listings

As revealed in dozens of new job postings on its website, Apple is once again looking to improve its much-criticized Maps application by increasing the size of its team dedicated to verifying mapping data. The postings are for "ground truth" local experts and regional managers in a number of different locations around the world, including several in the United States, Brazil, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Europe. The job descriptions for the "Local Expert" roles are as follows:The Maps team is looking for people with a passion for mapping, great testing skills, and deep regional knowledge to help us build better and better maps. In this position, you will be responsible for the quality assessment of Apple Maps for your region, including both data and map services.  You will monitor changes to our maps, provide feedback on unique local map requirements, collect ground truth information, and evaluate competing products.The roles call for someone with a bachelor's degree or equivalent, prior experience in quality assurance and a "detailed knowledge of the unique features of your local area, including preferred place names, prominent businesses, public services, seasonal events, driving routes, landmarks, and road names". The positions are clearly intended to help Apple improve the quality of its mapping service, which since its release has been plagued with problems, including mislabeled towns and cities, inaccurate driving directions, as well as establishments (such as restaurants and bars) which had been closed for years. MacRumors first noticed Apple

FileMaker Discontinuing Bento for Mac and iOS as of September 30

FileMaker Inc, a subsidiary of Apple, has announced in a statement that it will stop offering Bento, the consumer-friendly version of its popular Mac and iOS database software, in order to focus on its flagship FileMaker product line.FileMaker, Inc. is increasing its focus on FileMaker Product Line software. Thanks to the ease of creating iPad and iPhone solutions, our customers' use of FileMaker on iOS is growing rapidly. Our increased focus will create an even better experience for these customers. As part of our sharpened focus, we will stop further development of the Bento consumer products.The announcement, which was spotted by The Verge, comes more than 2 years after FileMaker released Bento 4 for the Mac, with an iPad version appearing in June 2012. Since then, the product has only seen updates for minor improvements and bug fixes, with no new major features released. FileMaker will stop offering Bento in both the Mac and iPhone/iPad App Stores as of September 30 of this year and both products will continue to be supported up until the end of July 2014, according to a post on FileMaker's technical support page. The decision about why FileMaker chose to concentrate on its professional line is unclear, but the company has provided instructions on how to migrate existing Bento data over to FileMaker Pro. Users of Bento are also entitled to a $120 discount when buying the full version of FileMaker Pro for a limited time only. Although FileMaker Pro is certainly more feature-rich than Bento, there are several features missing, such as integration with the

'iPhone 5C' Case Shows Up On Amazon

The rumors about the new "plastic" iPhone (may be called the iPhone 5C, according to a recent leak) have been ramping up over the past couple of days, and now an enterprising case manufacturer has released a set of "iPhone 5C" cases on Amazon.com (via Nowhereelse.fr). The three cases, which are available in black, navy, and white, appear to be in line with low-cost iPhone dimensions that were leaked by another case maker in June. The low-cost iPhone is expected to be similar in size to the current iPhone 5, though with a rounded polycarbonate shell that comes in an array of colors. MacRumors commissioned renderings in July showing what the phone could potentially look like based on current schematics. It is not unusual for case manufacturers to use rumored case specs ahead of product releases to get a jump on manufacturing. Creating a case based on unconfirmed measurements is always a gamble, however, and there is no guarantee that elago's "5C" case will fit the finalized product that Apple produces. Yesterday, a report emerged from the China Labor Watch claiming poor working conditions inside Pegatron, one of Apple's assembly partners, in which a "plastic iPhone" was confirmed. The quote was provided by a worker whose role was to apply protective film onto the rear shell of the device before the part enters the assembly process:Today’s work is to paste protective film on the iPhone's plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines. This iPhone model with a plastic cover will soon be released on the market by Apple. The task is

USPTO Again Rejects Apple's Claim of Pinch-to-Zoom Patent

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has rejected claims by Apple that Samsung Electronics infringed on its "pinch-to-zoom" patent – one of the decisive claims in the ongoing litigations between the two tech giants. The patent, No. 7,844,915, was first filed back in November 2010 and described, "an environment with user interface software interacting with a software application". The patent was preliminarily rejected back in December 2012 before the final verdict was delivered today as they were anticipated, according to Computerworld, either by previous patents or were deemed unpatentable (as the technology has already been copied in other mobile operating systems, such as Google's Android). During the original trials, the jury found that 21 out of the 24 Samsung smartphones and tablets presented to them as evidence infringed on Apple's pinch-to-zoom feature, which was first introduced on the original iPhone back in 2007. The patent covered a gesture whereby users can "pinch" outwards to zoom into an image, document or file. The decision may have a serious impact on the ongoing trial, which saw Apple win a landmark victory against Samsung back in August 2012, in which it was awarded $1.05 billion in damages. Apple has up to two months to respond to the decision by the USPTO before it is

Another Alleged Image of the Low-Cost iPhone Rear Shell Surfaces

A picture posted on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo appears to show the rear of an assembled low-cost iPhone, complete with the required legal notices from the FCC and other agencies. The image was noticed by Dutch Apple site iPhone5Skopen.com [Google Translate].The unit shown appears to be almost identical to the rear shell that was leaked a few days ago, though this is one of the first leaks to include legal notices on the back.As expected, the phone appears to include a rear camera with single flash -- leaks of the new iPhone 5S have suggested a dual-flash system -- as well as similar Lightning and headphone jack locations to the existing iPhone 5.Because of the angle of the photo, is it impossible to tell if it is an assembled phone or just the rear plate. However, it looks very similar to other reported leaks. At a minimum, there is a good chance that these parts offer a good representation of what Apple's lower-cost iPhone will look like. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a solid track record, predicted earlier this week that the low-cost iPhone would ship in early September.Thanks Arjan!

Two New iPhone Models to Be Introduced on September 6th? [Updated]

The next-generation iPhone will launch on September 6th, according to German Apple website iFun [Google Translate]. The site does not have a significant track record with this sort of prediction, however. Earlier this week, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the low-cost iPhone and the iPad 5 would ship in early September with the iPhone 5S coming later because of production difficulties. Kuo has had an excellent track record in recent years. A ramp in production of the iPhone 5S at the end of this month was reported by a number of parties last week. Rendered mockup of lower-cost plastic iPhone front and back Additionally, iFun claims two new "device types" will be introduced, likely an iPhone 5S and a new low-cost iPhone with a plastic backing that has been extensively rumored. During Apple's earnings call this week, CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that Apple would have a "very busy fall" and said he would go into more detail "in October". It isn't clear whether he meant because new products would be launching then or because that's when the next earnings call will take place. Update: The Loop's Jim Dalrymple has put an end to this rumor with a simple,

T-Mobile USA Announces $0 Downpayment on All New Devices

T-Mobile, the fourth-most popular carrier in the United States in terms of subscriber numbers, announced today that it is launching a new promotion whereby any new, eligible customers will not have pay a single cent in downpayment for a new phone when signing up to a T-Mobile USA plan. Customers can now receive new devices for free and spread the cost over the terms of their contract, which in most cases is 24 months. In the case of the iPhone 5, customers pay an extra $27 a month on top of their standard price plan, which includes any minutes, text messages and internet access, with no interest payable. Prior to this, the iPhone cost $145.99 upfront plus 24 monthly payments of $21, giving a total cost of $649.99 – under the new plan, customers pay $648 in total for the device. It is important to note here that this promotion is only valid for the 16 GB model; the 32 GB and 64 GB models are not available at a special promotional price. T-Mobile's recently initiated JUMP plan, which is designed to allow customers to upgrade their phones twice a year after paying an additional $10 device fee, can be combined with the new $0 downpayment program. According to T-Mobile, the $0 price promotion is available for a limited time, though the company did not specify an ending date.

Report Suggests Haswell MacBook Pros May Arrive in October

A report from the China Times (cited on the Japanese website Mac Otakara) predicts an October launch for an updated MacBook Pro model featuring Intel's new Haswell processors, which are already present in the new MacBook Airs, released last month at Apple's annual WWDC event. The report cites sources in Apple's lengthy supply chain and suggests that the new models will remain the same price as the previous ones. The new range of Haswell processors (image above courtesy of ITPro UK) offer a slight boost in processor speed, but their major draw is a lower rate of power consumption compared to previous models. The MacBook Air now boasts an "all-day battery life" of up to 12 hours for the 13-inch model and up to 9 hours for the 11-inch model. The chips also offer support for the latest 4K displays, which offer a resolution 4 times that of standard HD displays. Currently, no Apple products feature the resolution. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a good track record when it comes to Apple rumors, originally predicted new MacBook Pros with Haswell processors at WWDC back in June, alongside a slimmer MacBook Pro with Retina display, though he later updated his prediction to suggest a mid-September release date for refreshed MacBook Pros. There is some evidence that suggests Apple vendors may be trying to run down existing MacBook Pro stock. Both Best Buy and Amazon are currently offering significant back-to-school discounts on the MacBook Pro, offering the 13-inch base model (with 4 GB of memory and a 500 GB hard drive) for $999, compared to $1,199 in the