Apple, Google reportedly partnering on $500 million bid for Kodak’s patents

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Date: Monday, December 10th, 2012, 07:50
Category: News, Patents

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Apple and Google may not always see eye to eye on matters, but both of them know a deal when they see one.

Per Bloomberg, Apple has reportedly teamed up with Google to offer a bid for Kodak patents worth over US$500 million.

On Friday, the news site cited two sources familiar with Kodak’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings who claim Apple and Google have become partners in a grab for 1,100 patents owned by the erstwhile photography monolith. Sources say the Apple-Google consortium was behind a bid placed a bid earlier this week.

When bidding first started, the companies led two separate teams, with Apple’s consortium including Microsoft and patent holdings firm Intellectual Ventures, while Google joined up with RPX Corp. and a number of Asian handset manufacturers. At the time, it was thought that HTC and Samsung were part of Google’s team.

Before the imaging patent auction began in August, Kodak estimated the value of its portfolio to fall between US$2.2 and US$2.6 billion, though the first round of bids were reportedly in the range of US$150 million to US$250 million. Under the terms of Kodak’s US$793 million loan agreement, the winning bid for the portfolio must not be lower than US$500 million.

Interestingly, Kodak previously leveraged patents in a suit against Apple and HTC, as well as an ITC case against Apple and RIM, as a last-ditch effort to stay afloat. Apple subsequently took action and sued Kodak after claiming ownership of ten patents related to the QuickTake camera, which was a cooperative project between the two companies. A judge ultimately ordered the Cupertino, Calif., company to halt current and future litigation so the bankruptcy proceedings could continue.

In November, sources claimed both Apple and Google remained interested in the patent cache, and Kodak said it was “confident” that the minimum woud be reached.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google releases updated iOS app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

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Date: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012, 06:36
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

Remember how you liked a native iOS version of the YouTube app?

It’s back.

Per AppleInsider, Google on Tuesday released its native YouTube app for Apple’s iDevices, bringing an optimized user experience for iPad and the iPhone 5′s 4-inch screen as well as other enhancements.

When Google launched the first standalone YouTube for iOS app in September, the effort was largely considered to be a stopgap until the company was able to build a universal version that would work on both the iPad and iPhone, including the then-unreleased iPhone 5.

Until now, iPad users wanting access to YouTube were forced to download third-party apps or use the ubiquitous web video service’s web client through Safari. With Tuesday’s update, YouTube is now native on all iOS devices, including the Retina display-toting iPad. The app also supports the iPhone 5′s 4-inch display, meaning the app no longer has black “handlebars” when viewing videos in landscape mode, a major gripe some had with the original version released before iOS 6.

The new version offers the following fixes and changes:
- Optimized for iPad and iPhone 5.

- Stream videos with AirPlay.

- Tap logo to open your Guide of channels.

- Add and remove videos from your playlists.

- Clickable links in video descriptions.

- Improved accessibility with VoiceOver.

YouTube for iOS weighs in at 11.6 MB, requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run and can be downloaded for free from the App Store.

Rumor: Apple hiring dozens of Israel-based former Texas Instruments chip engineers

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Date: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012, 06:06
Category: Hardware, Processors, Rumor

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Never doubt the power of hiring the best engineers you can find.

Per The Next Web, Apple has reportedly hired a number of former Texas Instruments engineers living in Israel, with the new employees said to bolster the tech giant’s research and development resources in the region.

Sources familiar with Apple’s developing Israel-based operations have stated that the company has been hiring “dozens” of engineers to work in the cities of Haifa and Herzliya, the latter of which being the home base of purchased the flash memory maker in December of 2011.

The sources went on to say that Apple is picking up former TI employees who were laid off in a culling of 250 jobs at the company’s Ra’anana location, which itself is part of a larger global workforce cutdown of around 1,700 employees. According to TI Israel’s website, the Ra’anana campus was responsible for wireless connectivity solutions like WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS and OMAP products. OMAP, or Open Multimedia Applications Platform, is a type of system-on-a-chip developed by the Texas-based company currently being used in portable devices like Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.

Apple in April was reported to be gearing up for a major hiring campaign to fill spots at its Israel R&D center located in Haifa’s Scientific Industries Center, which boasts a collective of high-tech companies like Google, Intel and IBM. The recent TI Israel hires won’t be the first for Apple, as former Deputy CEO Etai Zaitsman is said to be working on the Haifa initiative headed up by Aharon Aharon, a veteran of Israel’s tech industry.

In May, users discovered a number of listings on Apple’s job board for SoC engineers located in the Haifa and Herzliya Pituah regions of Israel.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 23.0.1271.95

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Date: Friday, November 30th, 2012, 08:54
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock a bug fix.

Late Monday, Google released a beta of version Google Chrome updated to 23.0.1271.95 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 56.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- [161564] High CVE-2012-5138: Incorrect file path handling. Credit to Google Chrome Security Team (Jüri Aedla).

- [$7331] [162835] High CVE-2012-5137: Use-after-free in media source handling. Credit to Pinkie Pie.

Google Chrome 23.0.1271.95 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 23.0.1271.91

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 27th, 2012, 07:11
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock a bug fix.

Late Monday, Google released a beta of version Google Chrome updated to 23.0.1271.91 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 56.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- No audio from Flash content when speaker configuration is set to Quadraphonic (Issue: 159924).

- Aw, Snap renderer crash on Windows Server 2003 (Issue: 160559).

Google Chrome 23.0.1271.91 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Nokia releases “Here” map application to iOS App Store, offers alternative to Apple’s iOS 6 Maps program

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Date: Tuesday, November 20th, 2012, 08:40
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you’re looking for an alternative to Apple’s iOS 6 Maps, Nokia just delivered.

Per The Next Web, Nokia on Tuesday made good on a promise to bring its new “Here” mapping service to iOS as it launched a free app complete with offline caching and voice-guided walking directions.

The “Here” app comes exactly one week after Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced that the app would be available for iPhones, iPads and iPods sometime in the coming weeks.

According to Nokia, the HTML5-based mapping solution includes offline capabilities and, unlike Apple’s own Maps app, voice-guided walking navigation and public transportation directions.

“Maps are hard to get right – but location is revolutionizing how we use technology to engage with the real world,” said Nokia’s Executive Vice President of Location & Commerce Michael Halbherr, who is responsible for Here. “That’s why we have been investing and will continue to invest in building the world’s most powerful location offering, one that is unlike anything in the market today.”

The Finnish company also noted that future updates will come with 3D capabilities akin to Apple and Google’s solutions, which will come from technology acquired by earthmine. Nokia is rolling out the mapping service on its Microsoft Windows Phone handsets as well as versions for Google’s Android and Mozilla’s Firefox OS.

Nokia’s app is one of the first major no-cost mapping submissions to rival Apple’s Maps app, which caused a flap with consumers and the media when it was released as part of iOS 6 in September. With Maps, Apple chose to move away from its longstanding partnership with Google Maps to a proprietary solution built completely in house. Upon launch, however, the program was fraught with problems like rendering issues and incorrect location data.

The internet search giant is said to be planning its own standalone iOS app that may see release soon as rumors claim the company is distributing near final versions of the software to outside testers. One of the major gripes with Apple’s solution is the lack of Google’s Street View option, however that feature was brought back to mobile Safari with the Google Maps web app in October with limited functionality.

Nokia’s Here is available now for iOS as a free download from the App Store.

If you’ve tried the Here app and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Google nearing completion of standalone Maps app for iOS

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Date: Friday, November 16th, 2012, 07:54
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

The great, heralded competitor to iOS’ Maps application may be about ready for distribution.

Per the Wall Street Journal, it was reported on Thursday that Google is distributing a test version of a standalone iOS Maps app to people outside the company, suggesting an application to the App Store may be imminent.

According to a source close to the story, a Google Maps-powered app may soon hit the iOS App Store as the internet search giant is almost finished tweaking the software for Apple devices.

“We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world,” a Google spokesman said. “Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system.”

Google’s standalone app will reportedly feature turn-by-turn navigation, which was reportedly one of the main reasons Apple ditched the service in iOS 6. According to reports, which were later corroborated by CEO Tim Cook, Apple decided to move away from Google’s service because of disagreements related to offering free turn-by-turn directions, a feature Google had long since included in its own Android operating system.

Google has been working to re-establish its presence on iOS after its YouTube app was also deprecated from the platform, and has offered a number of free apps that return most of that functionality back to Apple’s devices. Maps has been noticeably absent, however, though the company did activate Street View for web apps, meaning mobile Safari users can access the feature in-browser.

In October, photographs of an iOS device running Google’s alleged standalone iOS Maps app were leaked to press, showing what appeared to be a near-final version of the software. It is unclear if and when Google will submit the app for approval.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 23.0.1271.64

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Date: Wednesday, November 7th, 2012, 08:53
Category: News, security, Software

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It’s the bug fixes that make a difference.

Late Tuesday, Google released a beta of version 23.0.1271.64 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 56.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Medium CVE-2012-5127: Integer overflow leading to out-of-bounds read in WebP handling. Credit to Phil Turnbull.

- High CVE-2012-5116: Use-after-free in SVG filter handling. Credit to miaubiz.

- [Mac OS only] [149717] High CVE-2012-5118: Integer bounds check issue in GPU command buffers. Credit to miaubiz.

- High CVE-2012-5121: Use-after-free in video layout. Credit to Atte Kettunen of OUSPG.

- Low CVE-2012-5117: Inappropriate load of SVG subresource in img context. Credit to Felix Groebert of the Google Security Team.

- Medium CVE-2012-5119: Race condition in Pepper buffer handling. Credit to Fermin Serna of the Google Security Team.

- Medium CVE-2012-5122: Bad cast in input handling. Credit to Google Chrome Security Team (Inferno).

- Medium CVE-2012-5123: Out-of-bounds reads in Skia. Credit to Google Chrome Security Team (Inferno).

- High CVE-2012-5124: Memory corruption in texture handling. Credit to Al Patrick of the Chromium development community.

- Medium CVE-2012-5125: Use-after-free in extension tab handling. Credit to Alexander Potapenko of the Chromium development community.

- Medium CVE-2012-5126: Use-after-free in plug-in placeholder handling. Credit to Google Chrome Security Team (Inferno).

- High CVE-2012-5128: Bad write in v8. Credit to Google Chrome Security Team (Cris Neckar).

Google Chrome 23.0.1271.64 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Warranty firm performs “drop tests” on iPad mini, third-gen iPad, Nexus 7, comes up with winner

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Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 07:35
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You can feel confident dropping your brand new iPad mini.

But you probably shouldn’t go dropping your iPad mini.

Per a series of informal tests performed by third-party electronics warranty firm Square Trade, Apple’s new iPad mini outperformed both Google’s Nexus 7 and the third-generation iPad.

A total of three tests were performed by protection plan provider Square Trade, two using a specialized apparatus that dropped the three tablets from a height of four feet, and one where the devices were simply dunked in a container of water for ten seconds.

Unlike other tests, the iPad mini experiment utilized a machine to drop the tablets at the same time under similar conditions. In the two tests, the devices were dropped on their corners and front faceplate. The iPad mini fared the best out of the three for the corner drop, suffering only minor aesthetic damage with no screen cracks, while the edge of the Nexus 7′s display showed some trauma and the full-size iPad suffered major cracks from the point of impact.

Up next was the face-down test, in which the Nexus saw slight fissures in its display glass, while the screens of the iPad mini and third-gen iPad were significantly fractured. The test did not attempt to turn the devices on after they were dropped.

Finally, the tablets were turned on and submerged in water for ten seconds, after which they were taken out and inspected. The iPad mini appeared to function normally, while the 9.7-inch iPad’s home button malfunctioned and seemed to respond sluggishly to touch input. It is unclear how the Nexus performed as the device was quickly glossed over as it had started a reboot during the process, and was declared “unresponsive” by the tester.

Taking all three drops into consideration, the firm gave the nod to the iPad mini.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, let us know what you make of the video:



Apple’s Forstall and Browett to leave company

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Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 07:03
Category: News, retail

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Well, this might change the software on your iOS device for a few years to come.

Per AppleInsider, Apple announced on Monday that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall will be leaving Cupertino in 2013, while SVP of Retail John Browett is also scheduled to depart at an undetermined time.

It is unclear why Forstall and Browett are leaving Apple, though it appears the remaining executives, including Jony Ive, Bob Masfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, will shoulder the burden in lieu of replacements.

As head of Apple’s mobile software division, Forstall recently came under fire when iOS Maps was released in a form inaccuracies combined with missing features to prompt pundits and customers to widely pan the mapping service that replaced the Google Maps-powered app shipped in iOS since its inception.

In May, Forstall sold 95 percent of his shares in the company, which at the time was worth US$38.7 million. The executive was due to receive another 100,000 in restricted stock units that fully vest in 2014, and 150,000 restricted units that vest in 2013 and 2016, if he had stayed with Apple.

Forstall is expected to leave Apple sometime next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

Not much was said about SVP of Retail John Browett’s exit, though the departure comes less than one year after the former Dixons CEO was hired by Apple to replace Ron Johnson. According to the release, the entire Retail team will report directly to Cook until a suitable replacement is found.

Like Forstall, Browett’s actions were scrutinized as reports suggested the executive’s plans to raise Apple Store margins was taking its toll on employees.

Perhaps most visible was the alleged firing of recently-hired Apple Store staff in the UK, which was accompanied by drastic working hour cuts in the U.S. and Canada. Browett later claimed the staffing changes were a “mistake” and said they would be reversed, however further reports suggested that an emphasis on revenue was trumping customer experience.

It was revealed in April that Browett received 100,000 restricted stock units worth roughly US$61 million, 5,000 of which recently vested on Oct. 20. An additional 15,000 units were to vest on the executive’s one-year anniversary with Apple, with remaining shares set to vest in 20,000 unit packages every April.

Apple’s announcement regarding the changes:

Apple® today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history”

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri® and Maps, placing all of our online services in one group. This organization has overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store®, the App Store℠, the iBookstore℠ and iCloud®. This group has an excellent track record of building and strengthening Apple’s online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X®. Apple has the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems, and this move brings together the OS teams to make it even easier to deliver the best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook. Apple’s Retail organization has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level who will continue the excellent work that has been done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services for customers.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

Stay tuned for additional changes as they become available.