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Apple's Beats Brand to Debut New Wire-Free Powerbeats in April

Apple's Beats brand will soon release an entirely wire-free version of its Powerbeats Wireless Earphones designed for workouts, reports CNET. The updated earphones will be similar to the AirPods, in that there will be no wire between them. Apple won't be cannibalizing its own ‌AirPods‌ sales because Powerbeats are designed for working out, running, and other athletic activities that aren't really meant for ‌AirPods‌. Apple's current Powerbeats earphones The newly updated ‌AirPods‌ that Apple launched this week feature an updated H1 chip that brings faster switching between devices, quicker connections when making phone calls, "Hey Siri" support and longer talk time, and this chip could also be included in updated Powerbeats. The W1 chip that Apple used in the previous version of the ‌AirPods‌ was also incorporated into its Beats headphones. CNET says that the information comes from a source that has provided reliable details on Apple's plans in the past, with Apple's Beats brand set to release the new earphones in April. Compared to the ‌AirPods‌, the upcoming Powerbeats could offer better bass and water resistance, as well as the ability to better stay in the ears during rigorous activity. There's no word on what the new Powerbeats will cost. Apple priced the new ‌AirPods‌ with Wireless Charging Case at $199, and current Powerbeats also cost $199, so the price could potentially go up. It's not clear if there are other headphone updates in the works that would be announced at the same time as the wire-free Powerbeats, but Apple's Beats brand has not

Apple Working on AR/VR Headset With 8K Displays and No Smartphone or Computer Tether

Apple is working on a powerful headset that will support both augmented reality and virtual reality applications, according to an inside source that spoke to CNET. The headset, which is codenamed T288, features an 8K display for each eye that would be untethered from either a computer or a smartphone. Instead, it would connect to a "dedicated box" using a high-speed short-range wireless technology called 60GHz WiGig. The box would be powered by a custom 5-nanometer Apple processor that's "more powerful than anything currently available" and similar to the custom chips that Apple will use in future Macs. At the current time, the box resembles a PC tower, but it "won't be an actual Mac computer."The future of VR is expected to be cordless devices -- and Apple wants to bring its trademark simplicity to the setup. The box would use a wireless technology called 60GHz WiGig, the person familiar with Apple's plans said. A second-generation version, called 802.11ay, would boost speeds and range and make the technology more attractive for high-end VR headsets that aren't tethered to computers.Users will not need to install special cameras in a room to detect their location as with some available VR headsets. All of the technology will be built into the headset and the box. Past rumors have suggested that Apple is working on a number of virtual and augmented reality prototypes using a secret research unit, but recent information has been specific to a set of augmented reality smart glasses. It is not clear if the smart glasses mentioned in previous rumors are the same as

Apple's Amazon Echo Competitor Could Feature Camera, Facial Recognition

Apple's rumored product designed to compete with the Amazon Echo could come equipped with a camera and facial recognition capabilities, reports CNET. Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, CNET says the device would be "self aware," able to detect the people in the room through facial recognition technology. Once the device determines who is in the room, that information could be used to pull up each person's preferences, "such as the music and lighting they like," allowing for a customized interactive experience for each member of the home. Facial recognition is something Apple has previously expressed interest in, both through patent filings and acquisitions. News of Apple's work on an Amazon Echo competitor first surfaced earlier this week, when The Information reported such a device was under development. The Amazon Echo is an in-home personal assistant device that features a built-in speaker and a robust artificial intelligence system, and a product from Apple would likely be similar, with AI capabilities based on Siri along with its own speaker and microphone. It is not clear what form Apple's in-home hub will take. While The Information's report suggested it was a standalone hardware product, a second report from VentureBeat has said Apple will built the Echo-like features into a next-generation Apple TV. Apple is laying the groundwork for a robust in-home AI-powered product through its work on Siri, and major Siri improvements could come in iOS 10. Apple is said to be preparing to release a Siri SDK, which would make the personal assistant

Samsung Becomes Apple's Top iPad Display Supplier in Q1 2014

According to a new report from market research firm DisplaySearch (via CNET and ZDNet Korea), Samsung claimed the top spot as Apple's biggest iPad display panel supplier in the first quarter of 2014, shipping 5.2 million units of the high resolution 9.7-inch panels that were used in the iPad Air and the reintroduced 4th generation iPad. Samsung's panels accounted for 62% of Apple's 9.7-inch displays, while longtime partner LG Display shipped 3.2 million displays to account for 38% of the total. Apple was said to have chosen Samsung as a primary iPad display supplier last August, and reportedly turned to the Korean company in October to produce displays for the Retina iPad mini as Sharp and LG Display struggled with low yields. Apple has been reported for quite some time to be seeking to reduce its reliance on Samsung as a component supplier due to tensions between the two companies as they have become top competitors in the mobile device market. However, Samsung's technological advantages and production capacity as a display supplier have proven valuable to Apple's needs over the years, as the two companies are likely to continue that partnership for the foreseeable

Apple Takes Jab at Samsung in Full Page Earth Day Newspaper Ad

Apple is honoring Earth Day in a new ad found on newspapers across the UK that appears to also include a jab at rival Samsung, reports CNET. The ad, which comes with a headline stating "There are some ideas we want everyone to copy," includes two paragraphs that allude to the company's ongoing patent trial with Samsung. Apple notes that there is "one area" where the company "encourages others" to imitate, calling for initiatives that are similar to its recent environmental efforts. There's one area where we actually encourage others to imitate us. Because when everyone makes the environment a priority, we all benefit. We'd be more than happy to see every data centre fuelled by 100% renewable energy sources. And we eagerly await the day when every product is made without the harmful toxins we have removed from ours. Of course we know we can continue to do better. We've set some pretty ambitious goals for reducing our impact on climate change, making our products with greener materials and conserving our planet's limited resources. So the next time we come across a great idea that can help leave the world better than we found it, we look forward to sharing it. Apple and Samsung are currently in their second legal battle over accusations of patent infringement, with the former requesting $2 billion in damages from the latter. In its defense, Samsung stated that it only owes Apple $40 million, as the trial is expected to conclude and head into jury deliberations sometime this week. The ad is one part of Apple's "Better" environmental campaign launched

Roku CEO Calls Apple TV a 'Money Loser', Says Product is 'Essentially' an Accessory for iPad

Speaking at the inaugural Code/Media event held by technology website Re/code (via CNET), Roku CEO and founder Anthony Wood called the Apple TV "a money loser" for Apple, likening the product to an accessory for the iPad and questioning why Apple would want to sell more units of the device. Wood's remarks come as Apple is said to be preparing a new version of the Apple TV that will integrate with Comcast's network to enable a streaming TV service for users. "Apple TV is essentially an accessory for the iPad. They lose money, which is unusual for Apple," he said Thursday, speaking at the Recode conference here. "If you're losing money, why would you want to sell more?" Wood also commented on Amazon's upcoming set-top box debuting next month, as well as overall competition in the set-top media box market: “Every year about this time, the Amazon box comes up that they’re about to launch. And the new Apple TV is about to launch … We’ve been competing with Apple TV for six years now, and every year, we’ve grown,” Wood told Kafka. ”We’re in the TV platform business. Our goal is to be the operating system for TV.” The CEO also went on to tell the crowd that sales of the Roku doubled after Apple dropped the price of the Apple TV from $249 to $99 two years ago. Wood's comments are notable given that the Apple TV reportedly generated $1 billion last year, which was revealed by Apple CEO Tim Cook during the company's 2014 shareholder's meeting. Roku refreshed its set-top box line with three new models joining its flagship Roku 3 last September, and also introduced a $50 HDMI str

Google and LG Working on Android Smart Watch Set for June Reveal

Google and LG are working on a smart watch that will likely be unveiled at the Google I/O developer conference in June, reports CNET. Google will reveal details on the device's operating system in advance of the hardware announcement, giving developers time to create apps for the device's retail launch. Google's smart watch endeavor will mirror its Nexus line of mobile devices, with Google providing the software and a manufacturer partner designing the hardware. Google is said to be working with LG on the smart watch, continuing a partnership established with the development of the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5. Similar to their work on the Nexus devices, Google will lead the marketing and sale of the smart watch, while LG will focus on developing the hardware. Google's smart watch will be powered by a version of Android that will integrate the company's Google Now voice assistant and search feature. The Wall Street Journal also adds that Google's smart watch will be compatible with a variety of Android devices, setting it apart from other smart watches such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Gear 2. Apple is rumored to be working on its own iWatch smart watch that could debut later this year. Recent reports suggest the device may include advanced sensors to track several health-related functions, such as blood glucose and hydration levels. Other rumors also suggest that Apple is developing Healthbook, an iOS 8 app that would utilize both the iPhone and iWatch for monitoring health statistics like weight, heart rate, calories and step counts.

1976 Apple Marketing Proposal Included Plans for Retail Locations

The first Apple retail location could have opened in the late 70s, according to a new account from distinguished Silicon Valley marketer Regis McKenna (via CNET). During a fireside chat held Thursday at the Computer History Museum, McKenna recalled a 1976 meeting in which he turned down an offer from Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to market the Apple II. However, McKenna stated that he eventually decided to assist Apple after a dinner with Jobs where both discussed the future of the company: Jobs and McKenna had dinner and talked about what the future of Apple could look like, and McKenna signed on. Eventually McKenna drafted an eight-page marketing plan in December 1976. Lo and behold, what was written under "Distribution Channels"? Apple stores. "I had actually presented this to Apple a couple of times," he said. "I had talked about putting them in different parts of the country. Apple Retail Store located at the Royal Hawaiian Center in Honolulu, Hawaii McKenna went on to state that his plan for Apple's retail locations were to have them placed in office parks, and to cater the stores toward high-profile customers. McKenna also added that the locations would have served as centers for corporate sales and training, and that the eventual goal was to shift toward more traditional retail stores for the company, similar to Apple Stores today. Apple opened its first two retail stores on May 19, 2001 and currently has 420 stores total, with 166 of those located outside of the U.S. During its financial results conference call covering the 2013

Deals for Apple Custom Radio Service 'Nowhere Near to Being Completed'

Back in early September, news broke in several publications about Apple's plans for a Pandora-like custom radio service, with the company reportedly seeking to arrange deals with music labels to allow more flexibility than permitted under the mandatory licensing used by Pandora. At the time, a launch was said to be "months away". By late October, reports were indicating that talks remained in limbo with Apple and the major music labels remaining far apart in their licensing offers, although Apple was reportedly still hoping for an early 2013 launch. As part of a report noting that Pandora's stock plunged yesterday after issuing weak guidance for the upcoming quarter, CNET says that Apple still has not made any significant progress with the major music labels.The rumors continue to swirl but multiple music industry sources have told CNET in recent weeks that the deal that Apple has offered for iRadio has left the major record companies -- Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group -- cold. My sources say that, at a minimum, a deal with all the majors is nowhere near to being completed. Even if Apple sweetens its offer or the big labels change their mind tomorrow, these deals take a while to put to bed. Even in the best case scenario, it will still be a while before we see iRadio.Eddy Cue has long been Apple's "master negotiator" for content deals, a role that he has reportedly filled with a calm yet firm demeanor that has made him very well respected in the business. As Apple's content empire has grown, Cue's role has expanded to the

Intel Looking to Cut Power Consumption on Future Ivy Bridge Chips

CNET reports that Intel is hard at work on reducing the power consumption of its Ivy Bridge chips, opening the door to use of the chips in mainstream tablets and reducing battery needs on small notebooks such as the MacBook Air.Intel will cut power consumption "significantly" for future versions of the chip, an industry source familiar with the chipmaker's plans told CNET. Intel's most power efficient Ivy Bridge chips today -- used widely in Windows ultrabooks and Apple's MacBook Air -- are rated at 17 watts. A future version of Ivy Bridge would be rated well below this, the source said.Intel has already previewed its next-generation Haswell chips that will push power consumption to as low as 10 watts initially, but it seems that Intel is moving to reduce power needs for its chips even before Haswell hits the market. With future Ivy Bridge and Haswell chips becoming feasible for tablets with their reduced power consumption, there have been rumors that Apple could consider Intel chips for at least the iPad, although Apple seems dedicated to its own ARM-based chip designs for its mobile devices. But with Apple said to be looking to shift away from Samsung for production of its A-series chips, the company is said to be looking at TSMC and Intel as future chip foundry options. In a research note issued last week, RBC analyst Doug Freedman claimed that Apple is already in talks with Intel on a deal that could see Intel producing A-series chips for the iPhone while Apple shifts to Intel's x86 platform for the

New iPad to be Called 'iPad HD' and Not 'iPad 3'?

CNet claims that the next iPad that is due to be announced on Wednesday will be named "iPad HD".A developer who's previously provided reliable information with respect to things Apple and otherwise tells us the next iPad uses the HD moniker instead of going with "iPad 3."The next generation iPad has been referenced as the "iPad 3" in most reports as a natural successor to the iPad 2 which was released last year. Some case-makers have already started referencing the new device as the "iPad HD" though we were skeptical about their knowledge of Apple's plans. However, CNet's report and a similar report from VentureBeat suggests that iPad HD may well be the name. The name was first predicted in a rumor from July, 2011. In that report by This Is My Next (now TheVerge), the author claimed the "iPad HD" would be a high-end device aimed more at professionals. The most recent rumors, however, have suggested the new device will arrive at the same price points as the current iPad 2. Apple will be holding their media event on Wed, March 7th.

San Francisco Police Launch Investigation into Missing iPhone 5 Search

CNET reports that the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the search for a prototype iPhone that went missing from a San Francisco bar in late July. The case resulted in a significant amount of publicity after the SFPD initially reported that it had no record of any investigation into the disappearance or participation in a search of a house identified as where the lost iPhone had been tracked to. That claim led to suggestions that Apple's own security personnel may have posed as police officers, but the SFPD later acknowledged that it did participate in the search, accompanying Apple security officers to the house but not actively searching the premise themselves.Police here have begun looking into what role officers played in a search by Apple for a missing unreleased iPhone. Lt. Troy Dangerfield, of the San Francisco Police Department, told CNET today that an internal investigation has begun into determining how officers assisted two Apple security employees in their July search of a home in the Bernal Heights neighborhood for the handset.The investigation is official confirmation that the SFPD is interested in learning the full story behind the search and whether there was any improper activity by either police officers or Apple's security team. The subject of the search has indicated that he was led to believe that all of those involved in the search were police officers, and would not have consented to the search had he known that the investigators conducting the search were private security

Doubts Cast on Revived Rumors of Subscription TV Packages from Apple

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal briefly reported that Apple is working on "new technology" for pushing video content to televisions, apparently linking that work with revived rumors of a subscription TV service. Rumors of such of a service first surfaced in late 2009, but by the iPad launch in March 2010, Apple had been said to have put the plans on hold in the face of opposition from media companies. But despite The Wall Street Journal's revival of the rumors yesterday, CNET insists that such an offering will not be coming in the near future, if ever, pointing back to a report earlier this month shooting down rumors of an imminent "iTunes Replay" streaming service for movies. The report also cites today's removal of TV show rentals from iTunes as evidence that Apple is moving backwards on the streaming TV front rather than making progress on any subscription deals.Now does this sound like the studios are willing to back a new subscription service from Apple or for anyone else for that matter? No. Don't put any stock in the rumors that began circulating today. My sources at the studios said three weeks ago that an Apple subscription service is not coming anytime soon, if ever.The report goes on to note that while Apple has over the course of negotiations with media companies suggested a number of potential business models, the company has yet to seriously push forward on any subscription TV proposals. The company instead seems to be focused more on basic cloud services that would allow users to download or stream purchased content from Apple's servers as

Apple Finally Signs Universal Music, iCloud Streaming Available "Soon"

CNet reports that Apple has signed the last of the four major record labels to its iCloud service which will be officially announced next week. The agreement means that Apple now has the rights to offer recording rights from all of the major labels. In addition, Apple has reached agreements with some of the large publishers, the sources said.This represents the final step before Apple is able to launch its iCloud service which is believed to offer music streaming to iOS and Mac users. Apple has already announced that they will be detailing iCloud at next week's WWDC keynote which takes place on Monday, June 6th. CNet reports that labels will get 58%, publishers 12%, while Apple retains 30%. They also add that streaming won't be available on Monday but will be offered "soon". And at first, Apple will only store music in iCloud that was purchased in iTunes, but Apple is looking to include songs outside iTunes "sometime in the future".

Apple Racing to Include Movies and TV Shows in iCloud Service?

Earlier today, Apple announced that Steve Jobs will anchor the keynote at next week's Worldwide Developers Conference, also taking the unusual step of pre-announcing that Jobs will introduce the company's "iCloud" streaming service at the event. While virtually all of the recent discussion about iCloud has been about Apple securing agreements with music labels and publishers to allow users to store their purchased songs on Apple's servers for streaming to a variety of devices, CNET reports that Apple may also be racing to secure agreements for movies and TV shows in time for the service's debut. The most specific information seems to be regarding movies:In the past several weeks, Apple executives have stepped up their attempts to convince some of the major Hollywood film studios to issue licenses that would enable Apple to store its customers' movies on the company's servers, two sources close to the negotiations told CNET. Apple began discussing a cloud service with the studios over a year ago.The report notes that talks with film studios are ongoing, but one stumbling block appears to be the "HBO window", an agreement between the cable channel and studios Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and NBC Universal that requires those studios to temporarily stop sales and distribution of their content while it is being aired on HBO. Enforcement of such an agreement on cloud services may not be acceptable to Apple and its users who expect to be able to watch their content at any time. The studios, led by Time Warner, do however seem to believe that cloud distribution is

Apple and Music Publishers Close to Agreement on Cloud Licensing, But Delays Still Possible

Late last week, we reported that despite having three of the four major labels on board with its plan for a cloud-based streaming service and the final label apparently close to signing a deal, Apple still needs to reach agreements with the music publishers before it can launch its service. At the time, we noted that the two sides were essentially on the same page, with only monetary compensation to be negotiated. CNET now provides an update claiming that the two sides are actually quite close on the monetary issue, leaving only a small amount of negotiation. The report does caution, however, that unexpected delays can still pop up and that even seemingly simple negotiations can take significant amounts of time in the complex landscape of music sales.Negotiations between Apple and music publishers have begun in earnest only recently but the amount of money that separates the two sides from reaching a deal is relatively small, according to two sources with knowledge of the talks. That said, these are cloud-licensing contracts, which are new and complex and there's still several ways Apple's service could be delayed, insiders say.The report lays out how Apple and music publishers are having to forge into entirely new territory with their negotiations over cloud-based streaming services. Publishers are currently paid at a fixed rate of 9.1 cents per track sold either digitally or on physical media, a rate set by the U.S. Congress. Separate cloud streaming rights are not part of that package and thus Apple and the publishers have had to hash out new standards for the

Music Labels Hoping Apple Can Force Amazon and Google Into Cloud Licensing

With Amazon and now Google having rolled out cloud-based music hosting services without the consent of music labels, CNET reports that the labels are reportedly now looking for Apple to become the driving force to bring those companies back to the negotiating table for broader licensing deals. Since neither company was either able or willing to obtain licenses from the four major labels, neither of them could deliver the same range of options that Apple will be able to offer with its upcoming cloud service, according to multiple music industry sources. Exactly what those options are, the sources wouldn't say. Nonetheless, the hope in the music industry is that Apple's music service will make the competing offerings look shabby by comparison and force Amazon and Google to pay the licensing rates the labels are asking.The major labels are reportedly hoping that Apple plans to unveil its licensed version of cloud-based music hosting at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) set for early next month, moving quickly to market with what many hope will be a superior offering before Amazon and Google's services can become

Apple Expected to Charge for Cloud-Based Music Storage Service

CNET reports that Apple is expected to charge customers a fee in order to use its forthcoming cloud-based music storage service, a new product said to be rapidly approaching completion. The company could, however, offer a free introductory period to give customers a chance to test out the new service and gather a user base. Music industry insiders told me that Apple has indicated it could offer the service free of charge initially but that company will eventually require a fee. Google is also expected to charge for a similar service.The report points to claims that Apple may charge a $20 annual fee for the service, although that information remains unconfirmed with many sources apparently not being privy to those details. Apple's cloud-based plans have been said to be linked to a MobileMe revamp that could see certain aspects of cloud storage become free, even if the music storage component requires a modest annual fee. Apple is not the only significant player looking to move to cloud-based music storage. Amazon late last month rolled out its Cloud Drive service with limited free storage augmented by various levels of paid storage. The company has, however, received some push back from record labels who were not included in discussions with Amazon. For its part, Google has been taking the Apple route and trying to work with record labels on a cloud-based music storage service, but the search and advertising giant has reportedly been "going backwards" in its talks with no signs of a resolution in the near

Apple Inks Deal With Warner Music for Cloud-Based Storage Rights?

Just as Apple's cloud-based music storage service has been said to be ready to go amid claims that Apple has inked two of the four major record labels to deals permitting the service, CNET now reports that Apple has reached a deal with Warner Music Group (WMG) in support of the plan. Apple has an agreement with Warner Music Group to offer the record label's tracks on iTunes' upcoming cloud-music service, music industry sources said. In the race to the cloud, Apple is apparently stepping on the gas. All Things Digital reported Thursday that Apple has signed two of the top four record companies. ATD reported that Apple content chief Eddy Cue was due to fly to New York on Friday to try and finalize agreements with the two labels that were still unsigned. It is unclear whether Warner was one of those two that had previously licensed Apple or whether the label inked a new agreement on Friday.The report notes that WMG is the third largest record label in the United States, joining Universal, Sony, and EMI in the group of major players that sets the tone for the industry. WMG may be the most important agreement, however, as the label has reportedly been the "fly in the ointment" that has caused both Spotify and Google issues in neogtiating their own music deals. It is not yet known when Apple plans to introduce the new cloud-based service, but the company appears to be racing full speed ahead toward a

Intel to Launch 'Thunderbolt' on Thursday? MacBook Pros to Follow?

CNet reports that Intel's media event starts at 10 a.m. Pacific on Thursday, February 24th. CNet believes that Intel will be unveiling final details of Light Peak. [Light Peak is] a transmission technology designed by Intel that promises to bring 10-gigabit-per-second speeds for data transfers to and from external devices, besting recently introduced solutions like USB 3.0. Intel's broader vision is to have it replace the myriad specialty ports on laptops and desktop machines with one that can do just about everything, while scaling its bandwidth potential to support future computing needs.CNet expects that Apple will not officially launch the new MacBook Pros until after the Intel event. Intel's event starts at 10 a.m. Pacific / 1 p.m. Eastern. Meanwhile, we've learned that the term "Thunderbolt" is actually labeled as an Intel trademark on the leaked MacBook Pro packaging, so we suspect that will be the name used for the technology broadly across all platforms. As for why Thunderbolt (formerly Light Peak) uses the DisplayPort connector rather than the USB one, The Wall Street Journal Digits blog speculates that USB Implementers Forum wasn't happy about Intel co-opting their plug: The USB Implementers Forum -- which oversees the evolution of that ubiquitous variety of connectors -- put out a statement last summer that did not sound particularly friendly to Light Peak. "USB connectors are not general purpose connectors and are not designed to be used in support of other technology applications or standards or as combo connectors," the group said.Meanwhile,