US-China trade deal set to reduce manufacturing costs for Apple, aims to cut prices for consumers

President Obama and President Xi Jinping in Beijing (photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

President Obama and President Xi Jinping in Beijing (photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A trade agreement reached between the U.S. and China looks set to reduce Apple’s manufacturing costs by removing import tariffs on components imported into the country.

Apple uses components from a number of countries around the world, notably Korea and Japan, which are imported into China for the assembly of iPhones, iPads and Macs. China currently imposes import tariffs on these components. The new deal would allow companies like Apple, Microsoft and HP to bring components into China free from these charges …  Read more

Apple formally appeals ebooks antitrust ruling, asks for monitor to be suspended until a new decision is made

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Apple has formally appealed the Department of Justice’s ebooks antitrust case, via the Associated Press. Previously, Apple has only officially complained about the power of the appointed monitor — now they are asking for the entire case to be re-evaluated.

Apple claims it was ignorant of any inter-publisher price fixing and that Apple setup iBooks through legal arrangements without knowledge of any behind-the-scenes collusion.

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Apple pledges $100 million in iPads, computers and other tools toward Obama’s ConnectED education program

A student looks at his iPad as his class watches a live broadcast of a lecture given by Shenzhou-10 spacecraft astronauts on the Tiangong-1 space module, at a primary school in Quzhou

While it was announced briefly during the President’s State of the Union address last week, Associated Press reports today that Apple along with other tech companies are pledging around $750 million in an initiative to bring high-speed internet to schools. Called ConnectED, the program was officially announced by the White House today with the goal of connecting “99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years.” For its part, Apple is reportedly providing around $100 million in iPads and other equipment: Read more

Apple rolling out iBeacons into Apple Stores, silent app update enables In-Store Notifications

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Via the Associated Press, Apple will begin using iBeacon technology across its 254 US retail stores starting today. The integration, first reported by 9to5Mac last month, will offer notifications about products, event and other information tailored to your current store. For example, walking to a display table about iPhones may automatically notify you about your upgrade availability and trade in options.

Apple demoed the technology to the Associated Press earlier in the week in New York City. Apple has setup over 20 iBeacon transmitters in its flagship 5th Avenue store. However, starting today, everyone can benefit from the update, as the Apple Store app has been updated silently from the server side. Customers in the US can sign up inside the app today …

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Analyst predicts iPhone 5S with Gold option, larger F2.0 aperture camera and 128GB high-end

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In a new report out today, KGI’s Mingchi Kuo updated his previous predictions for the iPhone 5S due for announcement on September 10th. Notably, he expects:

(1) the new A7, ARMv8 based AP (application processor), featuring a 1GB LPDDR3 RAM chip; (2) a sapphire home button with fingerprint  sensor; (3) main camera unchanged with 8MP, but featuring a larger F2.0 aperture with dual flash lights; (4) new option for golden casing; and (5) new option for 128GB storage.

We’ve heard the Sapphire fingerprint reading home button previously from Kuo and the A7 is the natural successor to the A6 and will likely be a 64-bit processor. The 1GB RAM seems in line with previous predictions but that 1GB of RAM will be faster according to Kuo:

We reckon A7 will upgrade memory bandwidth spec to LPDDR3 from LPDDR2 adapted by A6, in an effort to improve system performance. Since Apple is in charge of both hardware  and OS design, it is capable of minimalizing memory capacity at an optimized state. Therefore, A7’s RAM will likely be unchanged at 1GB.

However, the Gold option is something that has been only heard of in more sketchy rumors until now. Additionally, we discussed the 128GB option in our roundtable quite a bit yesterday. The iPad got a 128GB option this spring and the option on the iPhone would be a big differentiator for power users.

We’ve also heard the upgrade on the camera would include an F2.0 aperture with dual flashes but have heard a variety of megapixel options including 12 and 13. As with previous ‘S’ models, this one would be able to take dramatically better pictures, especially in low light situations.

Kuo doesn’t believe that there will be NFC capabilities in the iPhone 5S.

All told, Kuo expects Apple to sell 35M iPhone 5S units in 2013 (not including previous models and the lower cost iPhone 5C) as long as sapphire fingerprint reader manufacturers can keep up with demand.

Kuo’s record on parts predictions is good (timing notwithstanding) and these predictions should be taken seriously.

Mockups via MartinHajek.com, more here. Read more

Taiwan asks Apple to blur imagery of early-warning radar facility in Maps app

Turkish website Sosyalmedya reported last month that Apple was putting the country’s national security at risk by releasing high-resolution imagery of sensitive locations in its new Maps app. In that case, the issue was a clear view of a maximum-security prison. A quick comparison to Google’s Maps showed the location was obscured, something Google has been known to do upon request. There were other controversial locations discovered in the Maps app (locations that Google currently blurs), and today a report from The Associated Press noted Apple is being asked by Taiwan to obscure imagery of an early-warning radar station in the country.

Taiwan is asking Apple Inc. to blur a map image of its new $1.4 billion early warning radar station… The 10-storey high radar installation built with U.S. technology is expected to go online later this year. It’s near the Hsinchu Airbase in northern Taiwan.

According to the report, Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesperson David Lo said, “Apple should follow its rival Google in using only low-resolution satellite pictures.” The Associated Press said the facility is located near Hsinchu Airbase in northern Taiwan and will be used for monitoring aircrafts, missiles, and determining speed for targets “coming from as far as western China.”

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Verizon iPhone 5 update eliminates carrier data usage while connected to a Wifi Network

An update is going to Verizon iPhone 5 owners this evening that resolves an issue where, under certain circumstances, the iPhone 5 may use Verizon cellular data while connected to a Wi-Fi network. We are not sure how much data leaks, or why and if Verizon will offer a refund, but we reached out to the carrier for a statement.

Update: Torod Neptune, spokesperson for Verizon Wireless, provided the following statement:

“Under certain circumstances, iPhone 5 may use Verizon cellular data while the phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network. Apple has a fix that is being delivered to Verizon customers right on their iPhone 5. Verizon Wireless customers will not be charged for any unwarranted cellular data usage.”

Instructions to install the update.

  1. Tap Settings > General > About.
  2. Wait for the following alert to appear:
  3. Tap OK to install the update.
  4. Hold the Sleep/Wake button down until you see “slide to power off”.
  5. Slide to power off.
  6. After the device powers off, hold the Sleep/Wake button to turn your phone back on.

Note: To finish the installation of the update, your iPhone 5 must be turned off and then turned on again.

After your iPhone restarts, tap Settings > General > About, and then scroll down to Carrier and verify “Verizon 13.1″ is displayed.

The issue may be a carryover from the Wi-Fi+Cellular feature that was in the betas of iOS 6 but was eliminated in the final version. One reader below mentions the data leak seems to have occurred while the device is asleep.

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Apple could lose China iPad trademark, boasts Chinese govt official as groups enter mediation

Apple’s iPad trademark dispute with cash-strapped display company Proview has continued to drag on despite the Chinese company claiming it was in negotiations with Apple as recent as February. Today, several reports suggested Apple and Proview are now involved in court-moderated mediation with senior officials who are boasting Apple could lose the right to the iPad trademark in China. The mediation would be the first confirmation of settlement talks between the two companies. The Associated Press reports:

Apple Inc. risks losing the right to use the iPad trademark in China, a senior official suggested Tuesday, as a Chinese court was seeking to mediate a settlement between the technology giant and a local company challenging its use of the iPad name… Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration, told reporters in Beijing that the government regards Shenzhen Proview Technology as the rightful owner of the trademark for the popular tablet computers

If Apple and Proview are unable to come to a settlement in the talks, Guangdong High Court in southern China will rule over the case in the months to come. According to Deputy Director of China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce Fu Shuangjian (via The Wall Street Journal), Proview is still the legitimate owner of the iPad trademark in the country:

“Currently, Proview Shenzhen is still the legitimate registered owner of the IPAD trademark,” Mr. Fu said. But he indicated that officials are waiting for the Guangdong court’s final judgment, after which the industry and commerce sector “will deal with the case according to law.”

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NetZero offering free data plan with new 4G hotspot service

While Apple’s new LTE-capable iPad launched on AT&T and Verizon last Friday, NetZero announced today a new contract-free 4G-hotspot service that provides consumers with another option for data. You might remember NetZero from its ad-supported freemium dialup service in the 90s. The new service will also provide a free plan that offers users up to 200MB of data per month at no charge.

First you will have to buy one of NetZero’s reasonably priced hardware options: Read more

A visit to Stanford’s Apple Collection archives: Drafts of Jobs’ speeches, in-house video, and more

Stanford University’s Silicon Valley Archives currently holds “the largest assembly of Apple historical materials” stored within hundreds of boxes taking up over 600 feet of shelf space in an undisclosed facility outside San Fran.

The Associated Press published a story today detailing their recent visit to Stanford’s Apple Collection, which contains in-house video Apple recorded in the 80s, blueprints for early Macs, user manuals, company shirts, and drafts of Steve Jobs’ speeches.

Stanford historian Leslie Berlin had this to say about the collection:

“Through this one collection you can trace out the evolution of the personal computer. These sorts of documents are as close as you get to the unmediated story of what really happened.”

While you may have heard versions of how the name Apple came to be, an interview recorded with Wozniak and Jobs in the 80s (originally meant to be an in-house video for employees) has the two men recalling the exact moment:

Woz: “I remember driving down Highway 85. We’re on the freeway, and Steve mentions, `I’ve got a name: Apple Computer.’ We kept thinking of other alternatives to that name, and we couldn’t think of anything better.”

Jobs: “And also remember that I worked at Atari, and it got us ahead of Atari in the phonebook.”

That video and others were donated to Stanford in 1997 after Jobs returned to the company and plans for an in-house Apple museum were cancelled. Also included in the collection is this “Blue Busters” Ghostbusters-style internal ad featuring Apple executives, embedded below. The ad was originally shown in October 1984 at an international sales meeting in Hawaii. Blue Busters is obviously a not so subtle reference to their biggest competitor at the time, IBM.

Other items currently stored in the Stanford Apple Collection include (via AP): Read more

Jobs told Isaacson that he was either going to be one of the first “to outrun a cancer like this” or be among the last “to die from it”

Details from the upcoming Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson continue trickling in as big media got an early copy of the book. Both the Associated Press and the New York Times have published excerpts that offer a unique insight into the life of the famously private Silicon Valley luminary. According to a New York Times article from yesterday, after attempting to combat a cancerous tumor on his pancreas with a special vegan diet, Jobs then turned to the latest in modern medicine, which included an experimental gene therapy:

According to Mr. Isaacson, Mr. Jobs was one of 20 people in the world to have all the genes of his cancer tumor and his normal DNA sequenced. The price tag at the time: $100,000. The DNA sequencing that Mr. Jobs ultimately went through was done by a collaboration of teams at Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT. The sequencing, Mr. Isaacson writes, allowed doctors to tailor drugs and target them to the defective molecular pathways. A doctor told Mr. Jobs that the pioneering treatments of the kind he was undergoing would soon make most types of cancer a manageable chronic disease. Later, Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson that he was either going to be one of the first “to outrun a cancer like this” or be among the last “to die from it.

A 60 Minutes preview with Walter Isaacson also touched on Jobs’ cancer treatment, with the biographer revealing that Apple’s late CEO in hindsight was regretful for going with a special diet rather than chose to operate on it sooner. Another interesting tidbit from the New York Times article: Apple’s co-founder began designing his own luxury yacht back in 2009. This is a surprise since Jobs was many things, but not the kind of guy who would display his wealth:

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