Eight U.S. tech companies have sent a joint letter to President Obama and Congress asking for changes in the way governments collect personal data through the web. Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, and AOL all believe that the bulk collection methods used today have gone too far. Referencing details that were exposed by Edward Snowden earlier this year, the companies said, "This summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual–rights that are enshrined in our Constitution." The companies want governments to target individuals rather than everyone, and suggest that consumers and businesses alike will not use technology they don't trust. "Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it," said Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft. Microsoft recently said that it would increase the encryption it uses in an attempt to prevent government snooping. In the letter, the companies suggest five principles of reform, including the use of an independent way to oversee national security and more freedom to offer details about government record requests publicly.
Apple plans to launch its iBeacon service at 254 of its U.S. stores today, reports the Associated Press. iBeacon uses Bluetooth transmitters inside Apple Stores to track the exact location of shoppers. Customers must download the most recent version of the Apple Store application, and turn their Bluetooth radios on in order for iBeacon to track them. When shoppers move about the Apple Store, iBeacon can sense if they are standing next to a table of iPhones, for example, and will send a message to ask if the customer is interested in an upgrade. The app can also direct shoppers to the check-out counter, or alert them when purchases are ready for pickup. Apple Stores will also be able to send alerts concerning sales or deals to shoppers in the vicinity. iOS device owners need to agree to allow Apple to track them in order for iBeacon to work. Apple has not updated the Apple Store application since early November, and it is unclear exactly when iBeacon will come online.
Verizon Wireless has activated LTE 4G on its AWS spectrum in dozens of markets, reports GigaOm. Verizon Wireless lit up AWS-based LTE in New York City earlier this year, but has recently expanded the number of markets to include many of the major metro areas east of the Mississippi River, as well as a number along the west coast. In the majority of these new markets on the east coast (Atlanta, Boston, Washington, D.C., et al.), Verizon has tripled capacity, while in several western markets (Los Angeles, San Francisco) it has boosted capacity by 150%. This means more people can connect to the network in the same location and can access data at faster speeds. A handful of Verizon's existing smartphones (Apple iPhone 5s and 5c, Samsung Galaxy S4, Motorola Droid Maxx, Mini, and Ultra) can already access Verizon's AWS-based LTE network, and Verizon said software updates will add this functionality to others. Moving forward, most new Verizon smartphones will be able to reach LTE in both the AWS and 700MHz bands.
Consumer Cellular today announced that it will soon offer the Apple iPhone 5s, 5c, and 4s. The devices, which can be paired with most of Consumer Cellular's service plans, will require down payments of $150, $100, and $50, respectively. Customers are then expected to make payments of $25 per month until the remaining balance of the phone is paid off. The iPhone 5s, 5c, and 4S will go on sale Friday, December 13.
The federal judge overseeing the Samsung-Apple patent case has denied an emergency motion made by Samsung that would have delayed the proceedings. Samsung wanted the trial put on hold because the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is exploring the validity of Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent. "This decision by the [patent office] jeopardizes the jury's findings in the damages trial and may render all of the post-trial proceedings a waste of time and resources," argued Samsung. District Judge Lucy Koh disagreed and fired back, "If Samsung is truly concerned about efficiency, the court encourages Samsung to discuss with Apple an agreement to forgo post-trial motions so that the parties can expeditiously appeal this entire case to the Federal Circuit." The emergency motion was made last week before a jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple an additional $290 million in damages for violating its smartphone patents. Apple and Samsung have been battling one another in courtrooms around the globe for more than two years.
Apple today made the unlocked iPhone 5s available online. Apple is charging $649 for the 16GB model, $749 for the 32GB model, and $849 for the 64GB model. Unlocked models are already available in Apple's retail stores.
A federal jury today determined that Samsung owes Apple $290 million for violating the iPhone-maker's smartphone patents. Apple believed it was owed $380 million, while Samsung only wanted to pay $52 million. Twenty-six of Samsung's devices were found guilty of infringing on Apple's patents last year. Apple was originally awarded $1.05 billion, but the judge presiding over the case said the jury miscalculated a portion of the reward. This week's trial was to reassess the damages owed to Apple regarding 13 of the original 26 devices. Samsung now owes Apple a total of about $890 million.
U.S wireless network operators are not interested in allowing smartphone makers to install kill switches that would allow owners to deactivate their phones remotely if they become lost or stolen. Lawmakers in New York and San Francisco have been working with handset manufacturers, such as Apple and Samsung, to put the software kill switches on their smartphones. The idea is to make it easier for consumers to protect themselves by making it easier to deactivate lost/stolen devices. The long range goal is to deter cell phone theft, since deactivated devices will not be attractive to thieves. However, The New York Times says the lawmakers involved in the discussions have seen emails between U.S. network operators and handset makers that shows the operators don't want to hurt the profits they make by selling insurance programs to consumers. "Corporate profits cannot be allowed to guide decisions that have life-or-death consequences," said San Francisco's district attorney, George Gascon. "This solution has the potential to safeguard customers, but these emails suggest the carriers rejected it so they can continue to make money hand over fist on insurance premiums." For their part, carriers say they've helped to curb phone theft through the creation of a nationwide database of stolen cell phone IDs. Devices that appear in the database cannot be activated on any of the major networks, provided the lost/stolen devices are actually added to the list.
A federal court of appeals today reversed the decision of a lower court and cleared the way for Apple to seek a ban on certain Samsung devices. A handful of Samsung devices were found to infringe on certain Apple patents at trial last year. Apple requested that the products be banned from import/sale in the U.S., but was denied that request. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the lower court abused its discretion in denying Apple's request.
Apple today made iOS 7.0.4 available to iPhones and iPads. The minor system update fixes a bug that caused Facetime calls to disconnect. The update is small and can be downloaded over the air.
Google recently updated the the Google Search application for Apple's iOS platform and added a handful of new features. Among the app's new powers are the ability to perform voice-based searches with the "OK Google" search prompt. The Google Now functionality of the app now offers improved notifications for events like upcoming calendar appointments or travel changes. It offers new reminders for tasks, as well as entertainment reminders for new albums, movies, and articles containing the user's favorite artists. Google Now includes more cards for organizing tickets and boarding passes. Last, the home page has been simplified and includes new gestures for discarding unwanted content. Google Search requires iOS 6 and up, and the iPhone 4S and up. It is free.
Boost Mobile today announced pricing details for the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. It will sell both phones beginning Friday, November 8. Boost is charging $549.99 for the 16GB iPhone 5s, and $649.99 and $749.99 for the 32GB and 64GB models, respectively. Boost is charging $449.99 for the 16GB iPhone 5c and $649.99 for the 32GB model. It is selling the iPhone 4s for $299.99. Boost Mobile provides pre-paid service that runs on Sprint's CDMA/LTE networks. It does not require contracts. The prices it is charging for most of the iPhones mentioned above is $100 off the full retail price charged by Apple.
Rockstar, a patent consortium jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, and Sony, has filed patent infringement lawsuits against Google, Samsung, Huawei, and HTC. Rockstar alleges that the companies are violating its patents. Google, in particular, stands accused of infringing on seven different patents that pertain to internet search terms and advertising. Specific details about Samsung, HTC, and Huawei's infringements weren't immediately specified. Rockstar is seeking damages from Google, which it says is violating the patents willfully. Rockstar is a group of companies that together purchased thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel. The firms spent a total of $4.5 billion on the patents. Google and others attempted to buy the same patents won by Rockstar. "Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe," read a portion of the lawsuit.
Cricket Wireless today made available the Apple iPhone 5s and 5c. Cricket customers may buy the new iPhones at Cricket retail stores or via Cricket's web site. Cricket is only selling the 16GB models. It is charging $599.99 for the iPhone 5s and $499.99 for the iPhone 5c. Cricket also offers device financing. Well-qualified customers can get the new iPhones for as little as $25 down and payments as low as $21 per month (for iPhone 5c). Service plans start at $50 for unlimited talk, text, and data. Cricket does not require contracts.
Apple did not violate patents owned by Wi-LAN, according to a federal jury in Texas. Wi-LAN is a patent-holding firm that licenses its technology to other companies. It hit HP, BlackBerry, Novotel, HTC, and others with similar lawsuits, some of which have been settled. In particular, Wi-LAN accused Apple of infringing on a Bluetooth patent. Apple says that the Qualcomm chips inside its iPhones don't use the technology in question. Wi-LAN was seeking $248 million to cover the value of the patent plus a percentage of each iPhone sold. Wi-LAN said it was reviewing its options.
Apple today made available a minor update to its iOS 7 operating system. The new platform software includes support for iCloud Keychain, which can be used to keep track of account names, passwords, and credit cards across Mac devices. According to the changelog, the system update also adds a password generator for Safari; updates the lock screen TouchID behavior and patches a lockscreen bug; returns web and Wikipedia search to Spotlight; fixes several iMessage bugs; improves iWork stability; eliminates a VoiceOver bug that impacted Siri and input sensitivity; and resolves an accelerometer calibration issue. iOS 7 is free to download over the air and is compatible with devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Apple today announced new versions of its core creativity and productivity suites, iLife and iWork. iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand have all been redesigned with the design language used by iOS 7, as well as given new features. iPhoto makes it easier to organize albums; iMovie can now create picture-in-picture videos and slow motion effects; and GarageBand can handle more tracks in a single recording. All the apps have new support for iCloud, and can sync contents/file changes between iOS and Mac-based machines. iWork has been redesigned, too, to bring over the new elements of iOS 7. Pages, Apple's Microsoft Word equivalent, has less "chrome" getting in the way of content; Numbers has more graphics and visual tools; and Presentations adds object-based animation, new transitions, and more realistic physics. Last, Apple added collaboration tools to iWork for iCloud, which will allow people to share and work on documents/files. All six apps are free for iOS (and Mac) devices and will be available beginning later today.
U.S. Cellular today announced that it will offer the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c beginning November 8. U.S. Cellular didn't announce pricing details. It is already for sale from most other U.S. carriers.
Samsung has offered to stop filing patent-related lawsuits against its rivals in Europe for a period of five years in order to settle an antitrust investigation. The European Commission believes Samsung has violated its rules regarding standard essential patents. Samsung has filed numerous lawsuits against competitors such as Apple in Europe, the U.S., and other countries. The EU says Samsung is using its standard essential patents against rivals too aggressively. "Samsung has offered to abstain from seeking injunctions for mobile SEPs (standard essential patents) for a period of five years against any company that agrees to a particular licensing framework," said the European Commission. Samsung's competitors have one month to respond to its proposal. The move could help the company avoid an $18.3 billion antitrust fine. Samsung's offer does not extend to its patent-related lawsuits elsewhere.
Sprint today announced Messaging Plus, a cloud-based messaging service that connects Android and iOS devices across carriers. The application, which is powered by Jibe Mobile, lets smartphone owners send text, instant, and group messages; share photos and videos; and conduct live, two-way video chats. Sprint says the service lets Sprint customers connect with any mobile device in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Once Sprint customers have installed it, they will be able to invite their friends and family to download it -- even those who are using service from other network operators. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. It is compatible with the HTC EVO 4G LTE and One; the Apple iPhone 4, 4S, and 5; and the Samsung Galaxy S III, S4, Victory, and Note 2. Sprint said that it will be included with most Android smartphones moving forward.
Cricket Wireless today announced that it will begin selling the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on October 25. Interested customers may sign up for more details. Pricing wasn't disclosed.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against Google by consumers who claim the company violated privacy laws. In February 2012, researchers found that Google had bypassed the privacy settings of Apple's Safari browser and Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser in order to install cookies on PCs and smartphones. Consumers sued, saying that despite taking steps to prevent cookies from being installed on their machines, Google did so anyway and served them targeted ads. The judge overseeing the case said it was clear that Google circumvented the privacy settings of Safari and IE, but that the plaintiffs were unable to prove they had been harmed. Google was fined $22.5 million by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last year for its transgression.
Wi-Lan today announced that it has resolved its patent-related suit with BlackBerry. The company sued BlackBerry over Bluetooth and LTE patents, which it alleged were violated in devices such as the BlackBerry Bold, Pearl, Storm, and Torch. Though terms of the agreement were not made public, BlackBerry has agreed to license some of Wi-Lan's patents. Wi-Lan has filed similar suits against Apple and HTC.
Samsung faces a ban that will prevent it from importing a handful of its smartphones after the Obama Administration decided not to veto a ruling issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission. The ITC ruled in August that Samsung infringed on two design-based patents held by Apple. The patents in question cover detecting headphones and scrolling behavior. Samsung appealed the decision and hoped the President would overturn the ITC's ruling. "After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow" the import ban to proceed, said Michael Froman, Obama's U.S. Trade Representative. Samsung held that the ban should be overturned because the Obama administration overturned a ban won by Samsung against Apple products earlier this year. In that case, however, the patents pertained to standard essential technology, which must be licensed at reasonable rates. It's not immediately clear which Samsung devices are affected by the ban, which goes into effect today.
Apple has acknowledged a problem with its iMessage service that is disrupting message delivery. The problem occurs on devices running iOS 7. It first indicates that messages have been successfully delivered, but then later shows messages as unsent. "We are aware of an issue that affects a fraction of a percent of our iMessage users, and we will have a fix available in an upcoming software update," said Apple in a statement provided to the Wall Street Journal. "In the meantime, we encourage any users having problems to reference our troubleshooting documents or contact AppleCare to help resolve their issue. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes impacted users." Restarting the device or turning iMessage off temporarily resolves the issue.
Virgin Mobile USA today announced that it will offer the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c online and in stores beginning October 1. The new iPhones will be sold at full retail price without a contract.
Apple today issued a minor update to iOS 7. The system software, which can be downloaded and installed over the air, patches a bug that allowed someone to bypass the lock screen passcode. The update also adds back the Greek keyboard for passcode entry. It is free to install.
Here's a quick look at the Apple iPhone 5c. The 5c has a polycarbonate shell rather than an aluminum skin. We share a few thoughts.
Google today released a version of it Google Wallet service that is compatible with Apple's iOS devices. Previously, it was only available to Android devices. Google Wallet for iOS lets users send money to others via an email address; add credit/debit and loyalty cards that can be used in stores; and see nearby offers/sales based on location. The app uses a PIN for security and the app can be disabled remotely if the phone is lost. Since iPhones do not have NFC radios on board, Google Wallet cannot be used to make mobile payments at retail locations where Google Wallet is accepted. The app mostly allows Google Wallet account holders to manage their account. Google Wallet for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Facebook and Twitter today both welcomed Apple's iOS 7 update with significant updates of their own mobile applications. Facebook took to its blog to describe the changes it made to its app for iPhones, noting that it borrowed heavily from iOS 7's new design language. Facebook added a new navigation dock to the bottom of the screen that makes it easier to jump to different sections of the app. Additionally, it has a translucent bar at the top of the app that will change dynamically as you scroll through different photos and posts. Twitter also made changes to its app based on iOS 7's new features. For example, Twitter can now be searched by Siri, and Safari will display links shared in the user's Twitter feed. It also ties Twitter's music discovery feature to iTunes Radio via its own station. Further, Twitter makes it easier to share web pages and photos from within select iOS 7 apps, and adds Twitter handles to the iOS 7 contact application. Both Facebook and Twitter for iOS will be available later today and are free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today revealed a new version of its Chrome browser for iOS devices. Google's updated mobile browser has a new look and feel that takes advantage of iOS 7's design changes. The app has a new settings user interface and it works better with other Google apps. For example, mail and email links clicked from within Chrome will launch Google Maps and Gmail, rather than the native Apple Maps and email apps (if the user prefers). It also carries over some bug fixes and stability improvements. Chrome for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today made iOS 7 available for download via iTunes. iOS 7 is a completely redesigned version of Apple's mobile operating system. It is compatible with the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5; as well as the iPad 2, 3, 4, Mini, and 5th Generation iPod Touch. iOS 7 is free to download and install.
Apple today made iTunes 11.1 available for download. This latest version of iTunes is compatible with iOS 7, the new mobile operating system from Apple. iTunes 11.1 also introduces iTunes Radio, a feature that is part of iOS 7 and lets Apple customers stream radio stations. iTunes 11.1 is free to download and must be installed before customers can update their iOS devices from iOS 6 to iOS 7.
Apple has quietly enabled a feature that allows older iOS devices, such as the iPhone 3G or 3GS, to install the "last compatible version" of certain applications. Older iOS devices often cannot be updated to the latest version of iOS. Neither the iPhone 3G nor 3GS will be able to run iOS 7, for example. Applications are often updated for the newest versions of iOS, leaving older devices with older versions of the operating system unable to run them. Now, when attempting to download a new app, the iTunes App Store will offer users a version of the application that works with their device. This new feature means users of Apple's old iPhones won't be left behind and will still be able to use their favorite apps.
T-Mobile today announced its Simple Choice pricing for the new Apple iPhones. Beginning September 20, T-Mobile will sell the 16GB iPhone 5s for a $99 down payment followed by 24 payments of $22.91. The 32GB and 64GB models will require down payments of $199 and $299, respectively, but T-Mobile is charging the same $22.91 monthly fee. T-Mobile will also sell 16GB iPhone 5c for $0 down payment followed by 24 equal monthly payments of $22. The 32GB iPhone 5c requires a $99 down payment and 24 monthly payments of $22.91. The iPhone 5c can be pre-ordered from Apple's web site beginning today. Both devices will be in T-Mobile retail stores next week.
AT&T today announced how it will price Apple's iPhone 5s and 5c with its AT&T Next plans. The AT&T Next plans do not require down payments and let people pay for their device over time through monthly installments. The 64GB iPhone 5s will carry a $37 monthly device fee, while the 32GB model will cost $32 per month and the 16GB model will cost $27 per month. The 32GB iPhone 5c will carry a $27 monthly device fee, and the 16GB model will cost $22 per month. The contract pricing for the iPhone 5s costs $199, $299, and $399 for the 16, 32, and 64GB models, respectively; and the iPhone 5c costs $99 and $199 for the 16 and 32GB models, respectively.
Apple on Tuesday discontinued its Cards application for the iPhone. The app let iPhone owners create greeting cards directly on their phone and then place orders for physical cards that would be delivered by mail. Apple said orders placed with the Cards app up until 1PM September 10 will be fulfilled. After that point, it ceased accepting new orders. Apple suggests that people use iPhoto on their Mac computer, instead.
Apple today announced the iPhone 5S, a refresh to the iPhone 5, that will be available in slate, silver, and gold. The iPhone 5S is made from aluminum with chamfered edges and a 4-inch Retina Display. Outwardly it looks similar to the iPhone 5, but Apple says the iPhone 5S has numerous internal changes. The iPhone 5S is run by a 64-bit system-on-a-chip processor called the A7, which was designed by Apple. Apple says the chip has over 1 billion transistors and offers desktop-class performance. iOS 7 and all Apple apps have been rewritten to run in 64-bit (they will also run in 32-bit on older devices). Apple claims the processor is more than twice as fast as the iPhone 5's. The iPhone 5S runs OpenGL ES version 3.0, it offers 56 times faster graphics performance. The 5S contains what Apple calls the M7 Motion Coprocessor, which continuously measures accelerator, gyroscope and other motion data to work better with health and fitness apps. Last, the A7 supports Xcode in order to make it easier for developers to port their apps. Apple claims the new iPhone will offer 10 hours of 3G talk time or 10 hours of LTE browsing time, with standby time clocking in at 250 hours. The iPhone 5S has an improved 8-megapixel camera. Apple redesigned the lens, which has 5 elements and an aperture of f/2.2 for better low-light performance. Apple also enlarged the size of the pixels so they capture more light. The camera takes multiple shots and selects the best one, and can adjust the dual-LED flash to match the ambient light for correct skin tones. It also adds a burst mode that can fire up to 10 shots per second, and the video camera can shoot 720p HD video at 120 frames per second for slow-motion videos as well as 1080- HD video at 30 frames per second. The iPhone 5S also features a fingerprint sensor, which is built into the sapphire Home button. Apple calls the feature "Touch ID." The sensor scans sub-epidermal skin layers at 500ppi to read the owner's fingerprint. It can read fingerprints in any orientation and is used to unlock the iPhone or authenticate things such as app purchases. As with previous iPhones, the 16GB model costs $199, the 32GB model costs $299, and the 64GB model costs $399 with a new two-year contract. The iPhone 4S will continue to be available for free with a new contract. The iPhone 5S will be available for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Apple today announced the iPhone 5C. The 5C is a replacement for the outgoing iPhone 5, which will no longer be sold. The hallmark feature of the iPhone 5C is that it trades a metallic body for a hard-coated polycarbonate shell. The shell has a metal frame on the inside, which also acts as the phone's antenna. The 5C will be sold in five different colors, including white, blue, green, yellow, and pink. Many of iOS 7's colors were chosen to match the hues of the iPhone 5C. The back and sides of the 5C are formed from a single piece of material and Apple says there will be no visible seams or joins. It is not removable, though, and as with all iPhones the battery is inaccessible. The 5C features a 4-inch Retina Display with an Apple A6 processor, 8-megapixel main camera, and a 1.2-megapixel user-facing camera with improved back-side illumination and improved audio to boost FaceTime performance. The 5C will support LTE bands worldwide, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, and also has dual-carrier Wi-Fi. The 16GB version costs $99 and the 32GB version costs $199 with a new two-year contract. It will be available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Preorders begin September 13 and it will be in stores September 20.
Apple today announced that it is offering its five top creativity apps, including Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto, and iMobile, to all new iOS devices for free. The apps will be optional downloads, but can be installed at no extra charge. Apple previously charged $10 each for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, and $5 each for iPhoto and iMovie.