Category: Apple


ITC to probe Apple for HTC patent infringement

A U.S. trade panel will investigate allegations made by HTC Corp that Apple infringes its technology, as HTC seeks to win a ban on the U.S. sale of iPhones, iPads and iPods.

The International Trade Commission said in a brief notice that it would take up the investigation, which has to do with “certain portable devices and related software.”

HTC had said in its complaint filed with the ITC in May that Apple infringed five of its patents related to cellphone directory hardware and software and power-management technology in portable devices.

HTC has asked for a ban on import of Apple’s products, most of which are made in countries such as China.

HTC’s suit was expected after Apple filed patent infringement suites against the company in March both at the ITC and in the U.S. District Court in Delaware.

While Apple’s lawsuit against HTC did not name Google as a defendant, it was seen as a strategic move against Google, whose mobile software powers handsets from Samsung Electronics, Motorola Inc and others.

The ITC, a U.S. trade panel that investigates patent infringement involving imported goods, has become an increasingly popular venue for patent lawsuits because it can bar the importation of products that infringe patents.

Legal wrangling is commonplace in the smartphone market, an industry where many vendors work under cross-licensing agreements.

Source: Reuters

FBI Investigating iPad Breach

The FBI has confirmed it is investigating how private information about iPad users was compromised via an insecure AT&T Web server, as Gawker first reported yesterday. The FBI also contacted Gawker Media today.

The federal law-enforcement agency told the Wall Street Journal it is “very early” in an investigation into “these possible computer intrusions,” in which a group of security researchers harvested iPad customer email addresses and network IDs and exposed a hole in AT&T’s network.

We can confirm that Gawker Media was contacted by the FBI earlier today and issued a formal preservation notice.

We’ve reached out to the security group that first discovered the vulnerability, Goatse Security, and have asked for a statement. We’re waiting to hear back.

Update: In a lengthy blog post, a member of Goatse Security states that “there was no illegal activity or unauthorized access” involved. The group says that while it did not directly contact AT&T, it “made sure that someone else tipped them off.” Goatse also says that the security hole was closed before the vulnerability was publicized; that the private user information it gathered—a copy of which was provided to us—was later destroyed; and that the group was not paid or otherwise compensated by Gawker, which is correct.

Source: PC World

IPhone OS Gets New Name, Video Calling

Apple showcased its iPhone OS update during Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. And while the presentation largely covered the same ground Apple went over when it first unveiled the update’s major features in April, CEO Steve Jobs offered a few new tidbits–a new name for the OS as well as support for video calling features with the latest iPhone.

The OS, which runs on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, has been renamed iOS 4.0–a smart move given the number of mobile devices Apple now offers. The new OS offers over 1500 APIs for developers, and Jobs showed off a number of them on stage.

Jobs revisited a number of the new features that he gave a preview of at Apple’s iPhone OS 4.0 event for press and developers back in April this year. These features include: multitasking, folders for organizing applications, a unified Mail inbox, a new Game Center social network platform, iBooks for iPhone, major enhancements to features for Enterprise businesses, and more. On stage were demos of application switching between Mail and Safari, all the while allowing Pandora, a third-party music streaming and discovery service, to play in the background just as Apple’s own iPod app can.

For enterprise users, Jobs announced that iOS 4.0 would offer better data protection, mobile device management, wireless app distribution, multiple Exchange accounts, Exchange Server 2010, SSL VPN support.

Confirming many rumors from the past few months, Apple has also added Bing as a Safari search option alongside Yahoo. “Microsoft’s done a really nice job on this,” Jobs told keynote attendees. Google remains the default, however, but users can easily change this settings in the Settings app.

Pulling his “one more thing” card, Jobs ended the iOS 4.0 portion of his keynote by demoing video calling on the new iPhone 4. A “FaceTime” button in a phone call allows for users to enable face-to-face video conversation, something Jobs said he grew up “just dreaming about.” FaceTime works between two callers using iPhone 4s (though only for now. Apple intends to open-source the standard so any phone can use it), and you can switch between front and rear-facing cameras in the middle of the call. While iPhone calls are placed over a cellular network, FaceTime will only work if WiFi is present as well to exchange the actual video portion. “This is one of those moments that reminds us why we do what we do,” Jobs said.

Jobs wrapped his iOS 4.0 presentation by announcing that developers can download the Gold Master Candidate build Monday.

iOS 4.0 will be available June 21 as a free update for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, as well as to the second-generation iPod touch; note that the 3G and touch don’t support the multitasking feature. The update will be available for the iPad later this fall.

Source: PC World

Foxconn offers additional 66 percent raise, pending mysterious performance review

Though working conditions at Hon Hai Precision Industry may or may not have improved since Foxconn CEO Terry Gou showed off the pool, pay most certainly has. Where workers once made 900 yuan (about $132) per month, Reuters reports that should workers pass a three-month review, they could pull in 2,000 yuan ($293) in the same period. However, Foxconn’s not saying what would qualify an individual for the review. Even should they not pass, wages will be 30 percent higher than before the company’s labor scandals were brought to light, and before a string of twelve laborers reportedly committed suicide.

Source: Reuters (Yahoo)

Hackers plant viruses in Windows smartphone games

Hackers have planted viruses in video games for smartphones running on Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system, according to a firm that specializes in securing mobile devices.

The games — 3D Anti-Terrorist and PDA Poker Art — are available on sites that provide legitimate software for mobile devices, according to John Hering, CEO of San Francisco-based security firm Lookout.

Those games are bundled with malicious software that automatically dials premium-rate telephone services in Somalia, Italy and other countries, sometimes ringing up hundreds of dollars in charges in a single month.

Those services are run by the programmers who built the tainted software, Hering said on Friday.

Victims generally do not realize they have been infected until they get their phone bill and see hundreds of dollars of unexpected charges for those premium-rate services, he said.

Hackers are increasingly targeting smartphone users as sales of the sophisticated mobile devices have soared with the success of Apple Inc’s iPhone and Google Inc’s Android operating system.

Officials with Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: Yahoo! / Reuters (Boston)

Nearly 5 million downloaded Skype iPhone 3G app

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nearly 5 million consumers have downloaded a Skype Web telephony application that launched Sunday, allowing users of Apple Inc’s iPhone to use privately held Skype’s service over the cellular network for the first time, Skype said on Wednesday.

Before the launch of the application for use on high-speed third generation (3G) networks on May 30, consumers could only use Skype on their iPhone when they had access to Wi-Fi, a short-range wireless technology found in venues like coffee shops, homes and offices.

“We’ve had millions of downloads to date,” Russ Shaw, Skype’s general manager for mobile, told Reuters, referring to global iPhone users. “That’s really positive.”

A Skype spokeswoman said the number of downloads of the application was nearly five million by Wednesday morning Eastern Time.

Shaw said the app saw a good mix of demand across Skype’s three main operating regions: Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region.

However, Skype faced a lot of complaints from Web commentators after it also said on Sunday that it would start charging for 3G calls between Skype users next year.

This was seen as a big turnaround since the main reason Skype became popular was because Skype-to-Skype calls have always been free whether subscribers use it on their computer or their cellphone.

Shaw said the company needs to start charging for the service so that it can fund the investments needed to ensure that the quality of 3G Skype calls stays high.

He declined to give specific details about pricing plans except to say that the service would still be competitive with rival services including traditional cellphone calls.

“We’re not going to want to price ourselves out of the market,” he said. “I can’t ignore the fact that consumers (currently) use us for free.”

Apple is expected to announce a new iPhone on June 7. Shaw said Skype would hope to support the next iPhone too but noted that he had no details about Apple’s announcement. AT&T Inc is currently the exclusive U.S. iPhone provider.

Source: Yahoo!

China’s top officials call for improved worker conditions in response to Foxconn deaths

The highest ranking official in the Guangdong province of China has called for improved conditions for workers in light of the recent slew of suicides at Hon Hai Precision Manufacturing, also known as Foxconn. Wang Yang, the provincial party secretary in the province where the suicides have taken place, said that the government must work together with the company to “take effective measures to prevent similar tragedies from happening again,”

While it’s still not clear what is causing the deaths, Wang called for measures such as increasing sports and leisure activities for the workers, and improving communication between worker and employer. “Labor unions in private firms should be improved to facilitate better working conditions and more harmonious relations between workers and employers,” he said, speaking at a conference in Shenzhen on Saturday, just about one day after Foxconn announced it would increase wages of workers up to 20 percent.

Source: Wall Street Journal/Engadget

Apple iPad hits Canada amid controversy

The iPad officially hits Apple stores in Canada on Friday, and like seemingly all much-hyped products, it’s coming with a healthy dose of controversy.

On one hand are the all-too-familiar complaints about pricing for the device’s 3G wireless capabilities. On the other are criticisms that Apple is trying to maintain too tight a control over what users can and can’t do with their gadgets, or that the company is trying to remake the web to its liking. Either way, the iPad is generating buzz that many electronics makers wish they could get for their products.

Rogers Wireless got the ball rolling when it announced its pricing plans for the iPad earlier in May. The tablet computer comes in two different flavours — one can connect to the internet through Wi-Fi, while the other can use Wi-Fi or a 3G cellular connection, which requires an extra monthly charge through a wireless provider.

The company announced it would offer two plans, one allowing for 250 megabytes of monthly usage for $15 and another giving five gigabytes for $35. That angered potential customers, who pointed out on the company’s Redboard forum that AT&T in the United States was offering a superior plan — unlimited usage — for less money, or $30 (U.S.).

Rogers staff responded by saying that five gigabytes was more than enough usage based on its existing customers’ usage of smartphones and laptop data sticks.

The company further fanned the flames, though, by offering customers the ability to share their existing smartphone data plan with the iPad for a small fee, a deal not offered by AT&T. Rogers quickly reneged and said the offer had been made in error, which prompted hundreds of angry comments on the Redboard.

Bell Canada said earlier in the month that it, too, would accommodate the iPad and on Wednesday announced service plans identical to those of Rogers, with the added incentive that customers will be able to use its Mobile TV app for free until the end of August.

Telus has said it will offer a plan for the iPad but hasn’t yet provided details.

Many potential customers have suggested that a 3G connection for the iPad is unnecessary, and that users can simply rely on its Wi-Fi capability, since the device duplicates much of the functionality of a smartphone or laptop computer. However, Apple is marketing the touch-screen iPad as a computer for everyone, including people who have little technical know-how. The 3G connection is therefore a simple, no-fuss way to access the internet for such users.

Source: CBC

Apple passes Microsoft as world’s biggest tech co.

SEATTLE – Apple has surpassed Microsoft as the largest technology company in the world by market capitalization

Apple’s move comes as the company’s iPhone, and now its iPad tablet computer, have taken on more of the personal computing tasks once handled by computers running Microsoft’s Windows operating system and other programs.

Market cap is the dollar value of a company’s outstanding shares. On Wednesday, Apple Inc.’s shares slipped $1.11 to close at $244.11, making its market cap about $222 billion.

But Microsoft Corp.’s stock fell $1.06, or 4.1 percent, to close at $25.01, for market cap of about $219 billion.

The only U.S. business with a higher market value is Exxon Mobil Corp. The oil company’s market cap is about $279 billion, based on Wednesday’s closing price of $59.31.

Source: Yahoo

Google savages Apple for lack of openness

Google spent much of this morning’s I/O keynote slamming Apple for not being open, having major hardware and software limitations and for seeking to monopolise the mobile market.

Time and again Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering laid into Apple, in particularly over the lack of openness in the platform and for it’s lack of support of other features from within the browser. For example, the new Android 2.2 operating system supported Adobe’s Flash and Air with no problems he said.

“We are not only committed to the fastest mobile browser, but most comprehensive.

“It turns out that on the internet people use Flash. Part of being open means you are not exclusive with information, you are open to all.”

Apple’s operating system also come in for mockery for being limited when it came to use of the internet while he was demonstrating the Android Intent feature, which allows web pages and application functions to be sent directly to the mobile phone.

“We’re doing proper cloud to device messaging, not just a basic push notification designed to cover up basic inability to handle multitasking,” he said, to strong audience applause.

In some demonstrations he attacked Apple on the performance and limitations of the iPad, using a computing speed test between the iPad and Android handsets as well as demoing the ability to turn mobile phones into Wi-Fi access points, when an iPad was used to pick up the signal.

This openness of Android was also reflected in the advertising model for operating system he said. Any advertiser could use the platform, and none-Google code could be built onto web pages, putting publishers and developers in charge.

The attacks continued as Google moved onto the launch of GoogleTV, with constant references to the platform’s openness and support for Flash.

While never actually mentioning Steve Jobs by name Gundotra did say one of the motivating factors in developing Android was that otherwise “one man” would control the mobile ecosystem.

At the post keynote press conference V3.co.uk asked Gundotra what he would tell Steve Jobs if he had the chance. He said that many of the remarks made weren’t just at Apple, but at a range of companies.

“What we said was not necessary said to Apple only. As for where we stand Google stands for opennees and choice, that’s where we stand.”

Source: V3

Google, Mozilla, And Opera Take On H.264 With The WebM Project, A New Royalty-Free Video Codec

Just when the H.264 video codec is starting to take over a large portion of new Web videos, along comes Google to shake things up again. Today, along with Mozilla and Opera, it is launching the WebM Project, an open, royalty-free codec that can run in HTML5 browsers without the need for Flash.

Up till now, the battle between Flash and HTML5 video has centered around the H.264 codec, which is gaining broad adoption. Apple supports H.264 in all of its devices such as iPads and iPhones, and it is one of the technical reasons Steve Jobs cites for why there is less and less need to support Flash. H.264 is a modern codec, fast and light. It’s great except for one thing. It is owned by the MPEG-LA consortium, which doesn’t charge royalties for its use today, but currently plans to start enforcing royalties in 2015. The royalty threat is the reason Mozilla supports an older open codex called Ogg Theora in Firefox instead of H.264.

But Google is donating a much better codec, called VP8, which it acquired with its purchase of On2 Techchnolgies. The WebM Project is a new container file format for Web video. It includes the VP8 video codec, the open Vorbis audio codec, file extensions and a new mime type. Any video player can adopt it, including Flash. And, in fact, Flash is one of the 40 launch technology partners supporting WebM.

Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers will all support WebM, and Google will give it a big push by making YouTube videos support it as well. Will Safari and IE join as well? Apple is pushing H.264 pretty hard, but there is no reason it couldn’t support WebM as well in the future. If it doesn’t, we might have a Web video standards war on our hands.

Other launch partners include Skype, Nvidia, Qualcomm, AMD, ARM, Brightcove, Encoding.com, Kaltura, and HD Cloud.