Details Spilled on Apple’s iOS 7 Overhaul
Apple senior vice president of industrial design Jony Ive is overhauling the system by dropping its current lifelike design in favor of a simpler interface, according to 9to5Mac.
Unnamed sources described the new iOS 7 as "black, white, and flat all over," tipping new black-and-white user interface elements and a long-awaited move away from heavy textures. Speculation about changes to the next iteration of iOS began in November, when Apple dropped its top iOS chief Scott Forstall and reinstated Ive, sparking rumors that the end of skeuomorphism was nigh.
Citing sources familiar with Apple design meetings, 9to5Mac reported that many of the current textures—such as linen on the notifications panel and leather in the calendar app—will be replaced with flat black-and-white coloring.
iOS 7's makeover will also include a Lock screen facelift, according to the site. In place of the shiny, transparent time bar, there will be a shine-free black interface, while the usually square pin code grid will be replaced with round, black buttons with white text and borders.
Apple is reportedly also testing new panels for quick access to information, including a localized news feed in the Notification Center, as well as a dedicated panel for on-off toggling of Wi-Fi, Airplane Mode, and Bluetooth.
Microsoft Takes Aim at iPad, Siri in New Advertisements
The Mac vs. PC war rages on this week, as Microsoft released not one, but two video advertisements panning Apple's iPad and Siri.
In both spots, Redmond has its Windows 8 operating system showing off its superiority in the areas of work, play, multitasking, and more, all at the expense of Cupertino's iOS.
The first ad, "Less talking, more doing" (video below), launched on Wednesday with a full-blown attack on Apple's virtual voice-recognition assistant. As the Windows Live Tiles flip in real-time on the Asus VivoTab Smart, showing new emails, Facebook status updates, and incoming SMS messages, the iPad's screen remains stagnant as Siri sadly admits that she's sorry, but she doesn't "update like that."
The apologies continue when a VivoTab user checks an Outlook inbox on one side of the screen while a snowboarder rides the mountains in a video playing on the other side.
"I'm sorry, I can only do one thing at a time," Siri says when the same task is attempted on the iPad, still focused on just the winter-games athlete.
Just then, both screens switch to respective presentation-making applications—the iPad running an unidentifiable program while the VivoTab vibrantly produces a colorful graph chart and other slides in PowerPoint, an application built for Microsoft by Microsoft.
iPhone Loses Ground to Galaxy Lineup on Customer Satisfaction
Satisfaction with the wireless phone industry is making a comeback this year, gaining 2.9 percent after a two-year decline, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Satisfaction with wireless service landed at 72 on a 100-point scale, and while that was an improvement, it's still "well below" the national ACSI average.
"Barriers to switching, including contracts with cancellation fees, make the wireless industry less competitive," ACSI director David VanAmburg said in a statement. "ACSI research shows that customer satisfaction is almost always lower when consumers have less choice and more headaches when it comes to switching to another seller."
Verizon was the top provider at 78, followed by Sprint (71), AT&T (70), and T-Mobile (68).
According to the ACSI, the aggregate of smaller carriers — Tracfone, Cricket, and MetroPCS (acquired by T-Mobile after the index research was completed) — tops the four national companies, rising 3 percent to a score of 78. Their secret: They don't lock customers into contracts, and therefore are perceived as being a better value.
Apple continued to dominate the smartphone scene with a score of 81, but it still dropped 2 percent despite the iPhone 5. On PCs, Apple was at 86.
The opposite is true for the impact of the Galaxy S III for Samsung, the ACSI said. After launching last year, the smartphone helped push the company's score up 7 percent to 76 — the largest improvement for any cell phone manufacturer.
Apple Denies Tax ‘Gimmicks’ Ahead of Hearing
Ahead of Tim Cook's scheduled appearance before a Senate tax panel tomorrow, Apple today released its prepared testimony, which denies any wrongdoing and argues that Apple is, in fact, the U.S.'s biggest corporate income taxpayer.
Apple handed over nearly $6 billion in tax payments during fiscal 2012, according to the testimony. That works out to $16 million per day, or $1 out of every $40 of corporate income taxes collected by the U.S. Treasury last year. This year, Apple's income tax bill will increase to more than $7 billion, the testimony says.
Still, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will reportedly release a report tomorrow that says Apple paid nearly no corporate income tax anywhere in the world on tens of billions in international income for the past four years, the Wall Street Journal reported. Still, that's not illegal, the Journal pointed out.
Apple iOS Devices Approved for Use on Military Networks
The Defense Department this week gave its approval for employees to use Apple gadgets on agency networks.
Specifically, government-issued Apple devices running iOS 6 are approved for use when connecting to DOD networks, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) said in a statement.
Approved devices must adhere to DOD's Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) and will be managed by a Mobility Device Management (MDM) system, a contract for which is expected to be awarded this summer.
"All of these pieces must be in place to allow the secure use of commercial mobile devices on department networks," Mark Orndorff, DISA Information Assurance Executive & Program Executive Officer for Mission Assurance and Network Ops, said in the statement. "DISA is running a pilot program today where we bring this all together."
Earlier this month, DOD approved BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets running BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, as well as Samsung's Android Knox-based mobile devices for use on DOD networks.
iTunes Update Brings Revamped Mini Player, Songs View
Heads up iTunes users. It's time for an update.
Apple on Thursday released a new version of its media playing software, iTunes 11.0.3, bringing a revamped Mini Player and songs view, among other enhancements.
The MiniPlayer (left), which lets you play music without taking up too much screen space, now features a "beautiful new view that showcases your album artwork," according to Apple's release notes. It also now has a built-in progress bar, letting you see how much time is left of the song you're playing.
The latest version of iTunes also now lets you view album artwork while in Songs view. In addition, albums with multiple discs will now appear as a single album.
The update also includes performance improvements when searching and sorting large libraries, which should be good news for those who have spent a lot of money on iTunes.
iTunes 11.0.3 is available for download now through Software Update.
Google Play Game Services Takes on Apple’s GameCenter
Google today released a set of new APIs intended to boost the gaming experience on Android.
Google Play Games Services includes a new family of APIs, including cloud save, which will allow developers to sync their games across devices, from game progression to game state. If you finish a level on your Android phone, pick it up later on the tablet, Hugo Barra, vice president of product management for Android, said during today's Google I/O keynote.
Developers can also incorporate leaderboards and achievements, much like Apple's GameCenter. Players can tap into public leaderboards or drill down and compete against those in their Google+ Circles. Unlike Cupertino, however, Google's version will be cross-platform, so it will work on Android, iOS, and the Web.
A demo of the service was not cooperative at the Google I/O developer conference, but Barra said the features will be available in several games today.
Gaming was just one of the updates announced today for Google Play Services. The search giant also unveiled three new location APIs.
A fused location provider, for example, is a "completely rewritten location algorithm," Barra said, so apps pick up on location faster and with more accuracy. There's also a new low-power location mode so apps don't use as much power.
Apple’s ‘iRadio’ Streaming Service Reportedly Stalls with Sony Music
Waiting on iRadio, Apple's rumored streaming service that's likely to make executives at Pandora and Spotify, among others, a wee bit nervous?
The latest rumors surrounding Apple's to-be-announced service are a mix of good and bad. Unfortunately, it's the latter that's allegedly keeping the service stalled at the moment, with Apple and music industry representatives still working out the contentious issue of licensing fees.
According to Apple Insider, Apple initially offered the record labels all of 6.5 cents for every one hundred tracks streamed on Apple's service. The labels balked, as that figure is just a tad over half of what Pandora allegedly pays for the right to stream its songs. Apple eventually ended up boosting its offer to 12.5 cents per 100 songs — matching Pandora's alleged rate — which helped the company convince Universal Music to enter into a licensing agreement.
While that's a feather in Apple's cap, given that Universal Music is the world's largest record company, it still leaves Sony Music and Warner Music Group to convince. Apple Insider also reports that Apple's apparently close to getting Warner to sign on board. However, Sony continues to balk at Apple's terms in the hopes that company will sweeten the deal.
Apple Rumored to be Enhancing AppleCare
And in a bit of a departure from the usual way this works — "A company is changing one of its major offerings; it is likely to be worse than it was before, if not more expensive" — Apple's rumored to be looking to improve AppleCare for those picking up tablets, PCs, laptops, or phones (to name a few covered devices).
Nothing's set in stone yet; however, the changes are said to have been discussed in an Apple town hall session this past Thursday between the company's tech staff and Apple Vice President Tara Bunch. That's according to an unnamed Apple employee who spilled the beans to AppleInsider – so take the news with whatever grain of salt you feel befits Apple rumormongering.
According to the source, Apple is looking to transform the familiar way that iPhone, iPad, and iPod repairs are handled at retail Apple stores. Instead of just taking a user's malfunctioning device and exchanging it on the spot for a nearly new model, Apple employees will now attempt to repair the devices themselves and return a customer's fixed-up device to him or her.
These "in-house" repairs will reportedly allow Apple to save approximately $1 billion each year. By July, Apple stores are expected to be able to handle issues with display replacements, cameras, sleep/wake buttons, and logic boards. That's in addition to the current lineup of fixes Apple retail techs can handle, which includes batteries, devices' vibrator motors, and speakers, to name a few.
Apple is also supposedly changing up how AppleCare itself works, either turning the support service into a subscription model instead of its current purchased-per-device model or adding a new tier to AppleCare that offers these benefits.
Reports Tip Summer Production for iPhone 5S
iPhone rumors continued this week, with reports that Apple's next-generation handset will begin production this summer, in advance of a third-quarter release.
AppleInsider cited Japanese newspaper Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, which said Sharp will use its Kameyama Plant No. 1 to manufacture LCDs screens for the "iPhone 5S." Japan Display and LG Electronics have reportedly already started production on the smartphone displays.
Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty corroborated the report this week in a note to investors. Huberty visited with tech suppliers in Asia, who said multiple new iPhone models will begin production in June or July, AppleInsider reported. She tipped a September launch, based on meetings in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Huberty did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple hasn't made any announcement, but during a recent earnings call, Tim Cook said Apple is working on "amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014."