Amazon May Launch Smartphone with 3D Capabilities in September

amazon_logo_2Amazon is gearing up to release its long-rumored smartphone later this year to directly compete with offerings from Apple and Samsung, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to the report, the company has been showing off prototypes of its handsets to developers in San Francisco and Seattle in recent weeks, with Amazon likely announcing the phone by the end of June and launching it by the end of September.

The people said Amazon hopes to distinguish its phone in a crowded market with a screen capable of displaying seemingly three-dimensional images without special glasses, these people said. They said the phone would employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to a hologram, the people said.

Rumors of the phone first surfaced in July of 2012, where it was reported that the company was working with Foxconn on the device. Last May, another report noted that the smartphone would join other products to complement Amazon’s popular line of Kindle tablets and E-readers.

The news comes as Apple is expected to ship its next-generation iPhone later this year, which may come in two different sizes: 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Recent reports have noted that the 4.7 inch version will ship in the third quarter of 2014, while the larger version may ship later due to production issues.

Along with a larger screen, both models of the iPhone 6 are expected to include a faster A8 processor, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, 1GB of RAM, and camera improvements in the form of optical image stabilization.




Apple Declines to Invest in Intellectual Ventures’ Patent Buying Fund [Mac Blog]

After collaborating with patent buying company Intellectual Ventures to purchase Kodak patents in 2012, Apple is now rebuffing offers by IV to invest in is latest patent acquisition fund, reports Reuters. Though both Apple and Intel have declined to participate, rivals Microsoft and Sony have been persuaded to contribute to a new round of patent buying.

“Microsoft and Sony’s investments give IV a fresh war chest to buy new patents,” said Kevin Jakel, chief executive of Unified Patents, which advises tech companies on alternatives to patent aggregators like IV.

Intellectual Ventures is one of the top five patent owners in the U.S. and has a portfolio of over 70,000 patents and intellectual property assets. The company has raised $6 billion for patents and is courting investors like Apple to raise an additional $3 billion.

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Microsoft, Sony, Apple and Intel have invested in Intellectual Ventures in the past, giving them access to IV’s patent holdings and a portion of the royalties it collects. Apple didn’t comment on its recent decision not to invest in IV, but one intellectual property expert believes it is not related to the company’s recent efforts to influence patent legislation in the U.S.

“Amy Landers, an intellectual property professor at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, said Apple and Intel’s decision on IV’s latest fund was probably unrelated to the political debate on patent reform.

“The companies that are not investing in the fund have probably just found better uses for their money,” Landers said.

Apple recently joined the new Partnership for American Innovation, a patent reform lobbying group that includes DuPont, Ford, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft and Pfizer. The group is opposing recent patent reform legislation that they claim may hurt actual innovations that need patent protection.




Apple Blocks Bloom.fm iAd Advertising Ahead of U.K. iTunes Radio Launch

London-based streaming-music service Bloom.fm says it has been blocked from advertising on Apple’s iAd network because it is a threat to the Cupertino company’s iTunes radio, reports CNET. Similar to iTunes Radio, Bloom.fm offers genre and artist-based streaming radio stations with a library of over 22 million tracks.

“We were surprised at Apple’s decision to ban us from their iAd network as their iTunes Radio service isn’t even available in the UK,” the spokesman told CNET. “Bloom.fm gives you 22 million tracks for £1 a month — the price of a single download on iTunes — so I can see why they’d want to protect their business.”

Apple may be blocking Bloom.fm as it prepares to launch its iTunes Radio service in the U.K. The service debuted in the U.S. alongside the release of iOS 7 last fall and was recently extended to Australia. It is expected to debut in the U.K. sometime in early 2014.

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Over the past several months, some iPhone owners in the U.K. have reported intermittent connections to the iTunes Radio service, suggesting Apple is in the final stages of preparing the product for an imminent launch. Bringing iTunes Radio to countries worldwide is a top priority for Apple, says senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue, who confirmed the company plans to offer the service “in more than 100 countries.”




Apple’s Former Safari Chief Don Melton Reflects on Steve Jobs

jobs_poseDon Melton has a long history with Steve Jobs and Apple, working at NeXT and then moving to Apple where he is known for his work on Safari and WebKit. To commemorate Steve Jobs’ birthday earlier this year, Melton recounted his memorable encounters with Jobs in a post he recently published on his blog.

Melton was not a confidant of Jobs, just an employee who had the opportunity to be around the Apple co-founder on occasion. Jobs likely thought of Melton as the “Safari Guy” and knew Melton’s real name, which was considered an honor.

Melton recounts the first time he met Steve Jobs at a NeXT presentation in the late 80s that unfortunately was scheduled during everyone’s lunch break. Like many encounters with Jobs, Melton remembered Jobs’ demeanor, but not a word of what he said.

Obviously he wanted us to quiet down. You could tell because he paused several times for us to hush ourselves. And out of respect, awe, and probably some fear, we all tried our best to do so. But, dammit, the room was now packed and that many people just swallowing food makes a lot of noise. Sitting so close, I felt especially self-conscious.

Who the hell scheduled him to speak at that time? Knucklehead. It’s entirely possible that person was taken out later and shot.

Anyway, I do remember Steve’s seriousness and apparent impatience that day. But not a thing he said.

Melton paints Jobs not as a “mercurial ogre or cartoon autocrat,” but as a very busy CEO with little time for “yes men,” timid employees or those who didn’t know what they were doing.

Steve expected excellence. Which is why he so often got it.

He knew when something was right, but he didn’t always tell you what he wanted when it wasn’t. And he was very clear when he didn’t like it. Some misinterpreted this behavior as being overly critical, but it was actually time-saving clarity, albeit uncomfortable on occasion.

Melton has several interesting tidbits about his work on Safari, including Jobs’ distaste for the stand-alone bookmarks window in the web browser and the decision to add a page load indication into Safari’s address bar, a design decision that eventually hurt Safari’s reputation because the “in-your-face progress bar made it seem slower to the user.”

Beyond his work persona, Melton also shares some stories about the personal side of Jobs, the real man who has children and, at one point, a cranky new puppy. Melton ends his story with his somber memories of Steve in his final years, dealing with a disease that “had ravaged him.” Melton’s piece is long, but worth a read for his insight into a corporate leader who was intense, but also real.





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iMovie for Mac Updated With Minor Feature Upgrades and General Improvements [Mac Blog]

iMovieApple has updated its iMovie for Mac video editing package, adding a few minor improvements and fixing issues related to sharing, search and some foreign languages.

The update adds the ability to sort events in the sidebar by date, change the font, size and color of new titles introduced in iMovie 10, and the ability to double-click an transition in the timeline to adjust its duration. All small additions, but welcome ones for some users.

What’s new in iMovie 10.0.3

• Option to sort events in the sidebar by date
• Change the font, size, and color of new titles introduced in iMovie version 10
• Double-click a transition in the timeline to adjust its duration
• Crop and rotate clips in events
• Add speed effects using the Adjustments Bar
• Option to smoothly transition in and out of speed effects
• Fixes issues that could cause iMovie to quit unexpectedly
• Resolves issues that could cause sharing to fail
• Improves reliability of search when using partial or multiple search terms
• General usability improvements on computers using certain languages

Apple also released an update to Xcode coding app that fixes a few issues.

iMovie is available from the Mac App Store for $14.99, though it is included free for many users with their Mac purchase. [Direct Link]

Xcode is a free download from the Mac App Store. [Direct Link]




Apple Confirms ‘Heartbleed’ Security Issue Did Not Affect Apple Software and ‘Key Services’

heartbleed_200Apple today released a statement to Re/code confirming that iOS, OS X and “key web services” were unaffected by the widely publicized security flaw known as Heartbleed which was disclosed earlier this week.

“Apple takes security very seriously. iOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable software and key web-based services were not affected,” an Apple spokesperson told Re/code.

Heartbleed was a security flaw in the popular open-source software OpenSSL which helps provide secure connections between clients and servers. Due the ubiquity of OpenSSL, Heartbleed is believed to have affected approximately 66% of the internet.

Security blogger Bruce Schneier describes the issue as “catastrophic” and on “the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.” The flaw allowed servers to leak server memory to a malicious attacker, allowing hackers to extract login/password and other private data from a server. Users are recommended to change their passwords on all services that may have been affected. Mashable provides a list of services where you should change your password. Fortunately, MacRumors Forums were unaffected by the security flaw.