Apple is facing a massive judgment in a patent complaint concerning processors found in the iPhone and iPad. A jury in Madison, Wisconsin, found Apple guilty of using a patent owned by the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) without permission. The patent involves increasing the efficiency of chips. The technology is found in the A7, A8, and A8x processors, which power the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, and the iPad Air 2. Apple sought to have the patent declared invalid, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple's bid. WARF originally filed the lawsuit in January 2014 and just recently filed a second lawsuit concerning the A9 and A9x chips, which are in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus and the forthcoming iPad Pro. Apple could be on the hook for up to $862 million. The trial is now moving to the penalty phase to determine how much Apple owes. Apple maintained its innocence.
T-Mobile has dropped one of the promotions it ran for the iPhone 6s, which means the device is now costlier to lease for some customers. When the device first went on sale in September, T-Mobile offered customers the 16GB model for a lease of $20 per month without requiring a trade-in. That offer is no longer available. "The introductory pricing for iPhone 6s without trade-in has ended," said T-Mobile in a statement, "but customers can still take advantage of our other introductory offer and get a new iPhone 6s for just $5 per month with trade-in of iPhone 6 or other newer model phones, or $15 per month with trade-in of iPhone 5, 5c and 5s among others." T-Mobile customers must trade in a newer, functional device to score these low lease payments. Sprint is still offering the iPhone 6s for a lease price of $1 per month. Sprint has not said if/when that promotion might end.
AD more news below...
Facebook today said it is looking to increase the number of ways people can consume video on its platform. The company is testing a revised version of its suggested videos function on the iPhone, which purports to ease the discovery process for related strings of videos. Facebook said this revamped version of suggested videos will now also display ads. The social network is beginning to test this feature on the web and will test it on Android devices in the months ahead. The social network is prepping a picture-in-picture feature, too, that will let people watch video in small windows while looking at other content on Facebook. Further, Facebook is testing a button that allows users to save videos for later viewing. Last, Facebook has created a dedicated section within Facebook for hosting and viewing video. This section will have all the videos that would otherwise appear in users' Newsfeeds collected in one spot, including those saved for later viewing. Right now, it is located under the Videos tab in the iPhone app and in the Favorites section on the web. Facebook said it hopes people will use the new features so it can continue to improve them ahead of their wider release.
Twitter today revealed plans to cut 336 workers, or about 8% of its employees. The cuts come just a week after co-founder Jack Dorsey was re-named CEO. At the end of June, Twitter had some 4,100 employees worldwide, half of whom were engineers. The layoffs chiefly target the engineering department. "We feel strongly that engineering will move much faster with a smaller and nimbler team, while remaining the biggest percentage of our workforce," said Dorsey in a letter to employees. "And the rest of the organization will be streamlined in parallel." Twitter has failed to increase its user base significantly in recent quarters. It has about 316 million active monthly users, but growth has slowed to 2.6%. Earlier this month, Twitter introduced a new feature called Moments, which are meant to help novice and advanced users alike discover and follow trending news or events.
Facebook is expanding the avenues through which mobile phone users can purchase goods within the Facebook app. The company is testing a new ad format called canvas that allows people to view quick-loading store sites, drill down into specific products, and make purchases — all without leaving the actual Facebook app. Moreover, the company is slowly making a buy button available to more marketers within the Newsfeed, where it says people often encounter new products that interest them. Last, Facebook is also expanding how brands can use Pages to promote their products and allow for purchases. Facebook is testing these approaches with a select number of companies and hopes to offer it to more in the months ahead.
Sprint today expanded its Direct 2 You service to 34 new metropolitan areas around the country. The additions include: Indianapolis, Ind.; Lexington and Bowling Green, Ky.; New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette, La.; Las Vegas, Henderson, Paradise, and Spring Valley, Nev.; Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, and Asheville, N.C.; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Akron, Canton, and Dayton, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Nashville, Clarksville, Franklin, and Jackson, Tenn.; and Salt Lake City, Ogden, Sandy, Layton, Provo, and Park City, Utah. Direct 2 You is live in these cities and the surrounding areas. With Direct 2 You, a Sprint technician brings the store experience to the homes of customers who purchase a new phone. Customers still receive the same benefits as buying in stores, such as setting up the phone, transferring content, and teaching tutorials. Sprint's Direct 2 You service is offered free of charge. Sprint said more cities will be added throughout the year.
Alcatel's Conquest is an inexpensive Android smartphone that handles basic tasks in a waterproof package. This mid-sized handset boasts a solid set of specs, but it doesn't necessarily perform as well as it should. Find out what works and what doesn't in Phone Scoop's full review.
Google today made its Cardboard app available to more countries and more languages. Google says the app can be used across 39 languages in more than 100 countries around the world. Moreover, Google added 10 languages to the Cardboard SDK so more developers can create virtual reality apps for Cardboard. Google says a number of open-source Cardboard designs are available to do-it-yourselfers, in addition to the manufactured viewers from Mattel, Zeiss, and others. The updated SDK (for developers) improves sensor algorithms and performance, and also delivers smoother rendering on Android and iOS devices. Google says Cardboard is available within more apps, too, such as Google Street View, so people can immerse themselves in different areas around the word. The Google Cardboard app is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Apple today made a new beta version of iOS 9.1 available. iOS 9.1 beta five is ready for both developers and for public beta testers to download. The update comes just a week after the last beta, which suggests iOS 9.1 is nearing readiness. iOS 9.1 mostly tweaks features connected to the forthcoming Apple TV and big-screened iPad Pro. It also adds support for Unicode 8, which adds a range of new emoji, such as tacos and select hand gestures. iOS 9.1 beta 5 is free to download, though developers and beta testers need to register to receive the new builds.
FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler underscored the need to find and free up more spectrum in a recent meeting with the Obama Administration. Wheeler met with Lawrence Strickling, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, to discuss the FCC's progress in finding 500 megahertz of spectrum for wireless broadband. The FCC says it is almost halfway to meeting that goal. Wheeler and Strickling agreed that the FCC and federal government need to expand spectrum sharing between federal and non-federal users to help accomplish its targets. In 2010, President Obama set a goal of making 500 megahertz available for broadband by the end of the decade. The FCC has been able to locate and re-purpose various slices of spectrum since then, but admits plenty of work remains to be done.
Qualcomm today said it has agreed to sell its Vuforia business to a company called PTC. Vuforia was hatched five years ago as an augmented reality platform, giving mobile applications the ability to "see" and merge interactions between the physical and digital worlds. Over the years, Vuforia has become more focused on the Internet of Things. Vuforia's developer community will be transitioned to PTC along with the business unit itself. Qualcomm expects the transaction to close by the end of the year. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Samsung is not infringing on patents held by Nvidia, says the U.S. International Trade Commission. Nvidia filed the lawsuit more than a year ago, wherein it claimed Samsung's Exynos chips made use of Nvidia's technology without authorization or payment. Nvidia made similar claims against Qualcomm, targeting the company's Snapdragon processors. A law judge cleared Samsung of violating two of three Nvidia patents, and declared the third invalid. With an initial ruling in the books, the decision will be reviewed by the full ITC council before a final judgment is rendered. The ITC has the power to enact import bans and is often used as a venue for tech companies to play out patent-related squabbles.
Verizon Wireless today revealed five new options for customers who want to connect their tablets or hotspots to Verizon's network on a no-contract basis. The month-to-month data plans cost $15 per week for 500MB, or $20 per month for 1GB, $35 for 2GB, $60 for 5GB, or $100 for 10GB. Customers can enroll in auto-pay to keep their accounts active, or top up only when needed. Verizon says customers can replenish their accounts directly on their device, online, or via refill cards. The plans are compatible with 3G/4G-equipped tablets and other mobile broadband devices.
The FCC today revealed an unannounced smartphone from OnePlus. The model number listed by the FCC is One E1005. The device differs in design from the OnePlus One and OnePlus Two handsets in that it has round top and bottom edges and an off-set camera on the back. It resembles an iPhone to a certain degree, based on images included in the FCC documents. The FCC indicates the One E1005 has a 1.9GHz processor and support for LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, and FM radios. OnePlus handsets generally run Oxygen OS, a forked version of Android Lollipop. The FCC documents don't confirm what platform the E1005 runs. OnePlus has scheduled a media event for Oct. 12 in India, and it's possible the One E1005 will be announced at during that event.
Apple has responded to a series of claims that suggest there are palpable differences in battery life produced by the Samsung- and TSMC-sourced A9 processor in its new iPhones. Both Samsung and TSMC are making the A9 processor for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Samsung's version uses a 14nm process and has a slightly smaller footprint than the TSMC 16nm chip. Several benchmark tests (AnTuTu, Geekbench, et al) imply that Samsung's A9 drains the battery up to two hours sooner than TSMC's A9. Apple says such tests aren't realistic and real-world variances are in the order of 2-3% — or about 12 to 15 minutes per day under normal usage. "Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state," said Apple in a statement provided to Techcrunch. "It's a misleading way to measure real-world battery life. Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other." Such variances fall into acceptable norms for most consumer electronics.
Apple Watch owners can now read their incoming Facebook Messenger messages on their wearable. A recent update to the iOS app adds compatibility with Apple's smartwatch. People can also send voice clips, likes, and stickers. In addition to Apple Watch functionality, Facebook Messenger will now reveal contacts and conversations in the iPhone's search tool. Moreover, Facebook Messenger gains support for the iPad's split-screen multitasking capability. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that prohibits the government from snooping on citizens' electronic communications without first obtaining a warrant. The law, called the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, forbids the government from "accessing electronic device information by means of physical interaction or electronic communication with the device." For example, police will no longer be able to use stingrays unless they get permission from a judge to do so. Stingrays act like cell towers and trick phones into connecting with them. Once connected, police are able to pull location, call, messaging, and other data from handsets in bulk. One complaint about stingrays centers on the fact that they collect data on thousands of innocent citizens while police search for specific devices. The law was backed by the ACLU and tech companies including Airbnb, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Its broad language means it can be applied to future technologies if needed. "Governor Brown just signed a law that says 'no' to warrantless government snooping in our digital information. This is a landmark win for digital privacy and all Californians," said Nicole Ozer, an ACLU lawyer. California isn't the first to enact such legislation. Similar laws already exist in Minnesota, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The law covers California-based law enforcement, but not federal organizations.
Apple has added the option to purchase SIM-free, unlocked iPhones to its web site. The iPhone 6s (model A1633) and iPhone 6s Plus (model A1634) are compatible with a wide range of LTE networks, including those of AT&T, T-Mobile, and can be used on any GSM network in the U.S. or abroad. The devices are sold at full cost, without carrier contracts or obligations.