Web Storage Company Box Secretly Files for IPO [iOS Blog]

box-logoOnline storage company Box has secretly filed for an IPO, according to Quartz and the Wall Street Journal. Box last year raised $100 million in venture funding and is valued at approximately $2 billion. An IPO could bring an additional $500 million to the company during a time when competition between rival Dropbox is intensifying.

Box is reportedly taking advantage of a provision in the JOBS Act, which allows companies with an annual revenue of less than $1 billion to file its IPO prospectus confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A Box spokesperson declined to comment on the possibility of an IPO.

“We don’t have anything to share at this time. We’re focused on continuing to build our business and expand our customer relationships globally,” a Box spokesman told Quartz in an emailed statement.


Box recently overhauled its iOS app [App Store] and boosted the capacity of its free storage plan for a limited time. Users who download the app between January 15 and February 15, 2014 will receive free 50 GB of online storage for the life of their accounts.

    



Apple Seeds OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 Build 13C48 to Developers [Mac Blog]

Apple today seeded build 13C48 of OS X 10.9.2 to developers, marking the fourth beta iteration of 10.9.2. The release comes a week after the third OS X 10.9.2 beta, build 13C44, and a little over a month after the first OS X 10.9.2 beta.

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The update is available to registered developers through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store as well as through the Mac Dev Center.

Apple continues to ask developers to focus on mail, messages, graphics drivers, VoiceOver, VPN, and SMB2. Earlier betas of OS X 10.9.2 began allowing Mac users to block people on iMessage and FaceTime, as can be done in iOS 7, and also introduced FaceTime Audio.

    



Zynga Acquires Company Behind ‘Clumsy Ninja’ App [iOS Blog]

Zynga today acquired NaturalMotion, the company that developed the Clumsy Ninja app, for a total of $527 million in cash and stock. Clumsy Ninja, which was released in November of 2013 after a long development period, was highlighted by Apple during the iPhone 5 media event in September of 2012.

Following its initial debut, the app and the company behind it received a lot of attention for the natural movement styles of the ragdoll ninja character.

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Founded by Torsten Reil, a former evolutionary biologist, NaturalMotion specializes in high quality games that use realistic animations, which is a bit of a departure from Zynga’s typical game style.

Along with Clumsy Ninja, NaturalMotion has also released several other iOS apps, including Jenga, Icebreaker Hockey, and CSR Racing. According to Zynga CEO Don Mattrick, NaturalMotion will expand Zynga’s creative pipeline and bring next-generation tools to the company.

NaturalMotion expands Zynga’s creative pipeline, accelerates our mobile growth, and brings next-generation technology and tools to Zynga that will fast-track our ability to deliver consumers more hit games. Bringing Zynga and NaturalMotion together is a bold step in the right direction at the right time.

Combining NaturalMotion’s strengths with Zynga’s ability to develop breakthrough social features while sustaining live games over time, offers us a huge opportunity to redefine the gaming industry and deliver consumers blockbuster entertainment experiences.

Alongside the acquisition of NaturalMotion, Zynga also announced that it is laying off a total of 314 employees, or 15 percent of its workforce, as part of a cost reduction plan that is expected to save the company up to $35 million. During 2013, Zynga saw $873.3 million in revenue, but ultimately had a net loss of $37 million.

    



Analyst Skeptical About Imminent Launch for 12.9-Inch ‘iPad Pro’

A rumored 12.9-inch iPad may still have significant development time left, according to an analyst at IHS, a supply chain research firm. According to CNET, IHS analyst Rhoda Alexander said there were a number of different larger panels, that could be potentially for a larger iPad, floating around display manufacturers — but not in volumes necessary for an imminent launch.

“Some manufacturers over the last six months have received sample quantities of a larger panel. They’re playing around with a product that could possibly be an iPad-related product,” she told CNET in a phone interview.

“Various sizes are being reported with 12.85 inches being one of the sizes,” she said.

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Mockup of 12.9-inch iPad next to iPad Air and iPad mini

Alexander went on to say that IHS did not see significant shipments of any of the larger panels, and suggested that there may not be a market for iPads larger than the current 9.7-inch model. “We have to get a lot further down the line in terms of seeing really strong indicators from Apple that such a product exists, and we’re just not at that point.”

Samsung launched a 12.2-inch Galaxy tablet earlier this year with some reviewers saying the device was not very portable and awkward to hold for long periods of time.

According to a research report from Evercore analyst Patrick Wang, Apple’s larger iPad may be aimed at the enterprise market. Recent rumors have indicated that the 12.9-inch iPad will launch no earlier than the third quarter of 2014.

    



Major League Baseball Rolling Out Thousands of iBeacons for Opening Day

MLB At The BallparkNext week, Major League Baseball will begin rolling out thousands of iBeacons in ballparks around the country according to a source familiar with the plans who shared them with MacRumors.

The league is looking to have twenty parks outfitted with roughly 100 iBeacons each by Opening Day at the end of March. Boston, Milwaukee, San Diego, LA Dodgers, and San Francisco are among the teams that will have iBeacons installed.

The iBeacon deployment is one of the largest rollouts in the world, aside from Apple Retail’s 254-store effort. MLB will be using iBeacons sourced from Qualcomm.

The iBeacons will work with primarily with MLB’s At The Ballpark app, demonstrated at Citi Field last fall. The app should be updated by Opening Day with iBeacon support.

Functionality will vary by ballpark, with individual teams having significant input and control over what users will see. There are a number of potential use cases including point of interest information, concessions, loyalty and rewards programs, shopping, and more. Specific scenarios have yet to be determined for each ballpark and teams will share more information as it gets closer to Opening Day.

Separately, the NFL is rolling out a limited number of iBeacons at MetLife Stadium, the Super Bowl venue for this year, and in Times Square. The beacons will mostly be used to help users get to entry gates and to find Super Bowl-related tourist attractions in the area.

At The Ballpark already includes extensive ticketing functions introduced last year. Ticketing is fully integrated in the app and users can see all tickets they own, a significant perk for season ticket holders. Tickets can also be transferred from user to user, allowing ticket holders to send unused tickets to friends and family. With iBeacon, the app will be able to offer ticket holders precise directions to the appropriate gate and to their seats. Users can work end-to-end within the app: buying tickets, showing them at the gate, and then using the app to find their seats.

Ibeacon
The main purpose of the iBeacons, according to our source, is to improve the fan experience — not make money. The league is taking a “longer range view” and iBeacon isn’t designed to drive revenue in a direct sense. “Time is more valuable than money”, so MLB wants to make the fan experience “as efficient as possible”. It is looking to eliminate time wasters like waiting in line at the will call window, and it doesn’t want fans wandering the ballpark looking for their seats.

However, there is a significant revenue opportunity to be found. iBeacons allow fans to signal their intent, whether it’s browsing for merchandise, looking for food or something else. It allows ball clubs to be more proactive at fulfilling fan needs and “it’s better for you as a fan”. At The Ballpark already includes a loyalty and rewards component, but with iBeacons, clubs could proactively send a push notification to fans thanking them for their tenth visit to the ballpark and directing them to a nearby concession stand for a free hot dog.

The precision of the iBeacon’s location determining ability varies depending on both use case and subsequent placement of the iBeacon hardware. Determining installation locations for iBeacons within a major league ballpark is a major undertaking. If installed properly, the app will be able to determine things like whether users are physically in a store versus looking in the window, or if they need to move to a different row in a particular section.

MLB is also working to bring reliable Wi-Fi to all thirty ballparks, as well as working with all major carriers to improve cellular reception inside the facilities. Currently, many fans have difficulties using data or making calls, particularly during particularly exciting moments in the game. iBeacons can currently trigger any content — videos, photos, text — that are preloaded in the app, but for optional items like video clips triggered by plaques at Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, having reliable Wi-Fi would be a significant improvement to the fan experience.

The Bluetooth LE protocol used by the iBeacons is not subject to connectivity conditions, so users should be able to get directions to their seats or other content already stored within the app regardless of the status of their cellular connection.

Fans looking to get started with MLB iBeacons should download free At The Ballpark app to their iPhone and then sign up for a free MLB.com account to get started. Users need to install At The Ballpark and specifically opt-in to receive messages from iBeacons, preventing unwanted notifications. [Direct Link]

    



Apple Hires Chief Medical Officer From Pulse Oximetry Company Masimo, Possibly for iWatch Team

Over the course of the last year, Apple has made several hires from the medical and sensor field, presumably to bolster the team of experts working on its much-rumored smart watch project, and MacRumors today learned of another high-profile sensor expert that has joined the company.

Michael O’Reilly, M.D., formerly the Chief Medical Officer and EVP of Medical Affairs at Masimo Corporation, left his position in July of 2013 to take on a role at Apple, possibly on the iWatch team. News of O’Reilly’s employment at Apple was first leaked to MobiHealthNews last week and when contacted for comment earlier today, Masimo told MacRumors it “could not dispute” what had been reported.

While O’Reilly was at Masimo, the company developed several cutting edge pulse oximetry devices, including the iSpO2 Pulse Oximeter that connects to the iPhone and gives readings via an accompanying app. The iSpO2, which takes its readings from a finger, is designed to measure both oxygen saturation in the blood and pulse rate, with technology that allows it to take readings during movement and with low blood flow.

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The iSpO2 Pulse Oximeter for iPhone

While it is not clear what position O’Reilly holds with Apple or how his pulse oximetry expertise will be used by the company, he does join a number of other hires in the medical field that have reportedly been recruited for the iWatch team. In 2013, Apple hired several scientists and executives from notable sensor companies like AccuVein, C8 MediSensors, and Senseonics, and two weeks ago, another report pointed to two additional hires in the sensor field.

Reports have suggested that Apple’s smart watch project, the iWatch, could focus heavily on health sensors and biometrics, possibly including features like a pedometer and a heart rate monitor. Apple’s multitude of hires in the health field does suggest, however, that the company could include even more advanced sensor technology in the iWatch or in a future product.

With the addition of O’Reilly, Apple has now hired employees with expertise in pulse oximetry, vasculature visualization (vein finding), non-invasive glucose monitoring, blood chemistry monitoring via microneedle, heart/breath rate monitoring, and fitness. Notably, several hires have also had experience with low-profile, non-invasive biosensor devices.

On his LinkedIn page, O’Reilly is also listed as both an Adjunct Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan and a Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care at the University of California, Irvine.

    



‘NFL Now’ Streaming Video Service Launching Ahead of 2014 NFL Season [iOS Blog]

NFLThe National Football League will launch a digital streaming network called NFL Now this summer, ahead of the 2014 NFL season.

The network will include game highlights and videos sourced from the NFL’s 32 teams, NFL Network, NFL.com and NFL Films, in addition to a vault of NFL videos. Live team press conferences will be available, as well. There will also be a paid subscription service that will provide premium content, though details and pricing have yet to be determined.

The new network will mix game highlights, live streams of press conferences, originally produced content from the league and its 32 teams, and content already being produced for the NFL cable network and NFL.com. Users will be able to tailor the stream of content to their interests, following their favorite teams and players. The league claims that no two fans will have the exact same NFL Now channel.

The service will be available on U.S. mobile devices for Verizon Wireless customers because of that company’s partnership with the NFL, including the iPhone and iPad, while international customers will get the service free around the world. It is also a possible candidate for the Apple TV, which as seen a number of new content channels in recent months.

More details on the channel will be released later this year.

The NFL’s existing iOS app includes scores, team alerts, NFL.com fantasy football and more, with Verizon customers able to upgrade to premium features including streaming the NFL RedZone channel and all NFL games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday Nights. [Direct Link]

    



Evernote for iOS Updated With New Customization Options, Speed Improvements [iOS Blog]

Evernote today updated its iOS app to version 7.3.0, adding several new home screen customization options including three new color themes in light, dark, and classic green.

evernote
Users have also gained the option to rearrange and hide unnecessary sections on the home screen, add a sync status bar, and display recently viewed items in Notes, Notebooks, Shortcuts, and Tags.

Along with customization options, the app has been made both snappier and more responsive. Frequently used features in the note editor are easier to find and titling and retitling notes, for example, is now quicker.


Business card scanning has also been improved, with scanned cards able to be added directly to contacts, and several bug fixes and performance enhancements have been added. Earlier this week, Evernote improved its synchronization platform, allowing its iOS and desktop apps to sync four times faster.

Evernote can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]