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Apple and Sony 'iRadio' Negotiations Stalling Over Skipped Songs
Earlier today a report suggested that the launch of Apple's upcoming streaming music service deemed "iRadio" may be delayed due to difficult negotiations with Sony Music and Warner Music Group.
CNET is offering some additional information on Apple's trouble with Sony Music, explaining that the fees to be paid for skipped songs have become a point of contention between the companies.
Apple and Sony Music, the world's second largest music label, are still trying to hammer out details over how much Apple would pay for songs that people listen to a fraction of and then skip, according to people familiar with the negotiations.While Apple's music service is said to be more similar to Pandora than Spotify, Apple does plan to deviate from Pandora's rigid station-based listening rules by giving users extended control, like the ability to rewind or skip a song after listening to a small portion of it. Pandora limits its users to 12 skips per day and pays the full royalty rate for each skipped track.
Apple has faced continual struggles over pricing during negotiations, originally offering to pay just half of Pandora's royalty rate while demanding more flexibility. The company later agreed to up its offered price, but it may not be willing to make further concessions as an Apple-branded music service offers additional perks that other music streaming sites can't compete with, such as an established market for purchasing streamed tracks.
The stalled negotiations between Apple and Sony Music are annoying other labels, who are eager to see iRadio launch. Apple finalized an agreement with Universal Music earlier this month and is close to signing a deal with Warner Music Group, according to CNET's sources.
That skipping has become an issue is frustrating executives at the other labels because they see Apple's free radio service as a potential boon for the music industry overall and are eager to help Apple get it launched.Apple was pushing for a summer launch of iRadio, with possible plans to unveil the service at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but it is unclear if the company will be able to meet that deadline.
Gameloft's 'N.O.V.A. 3' and 'Gangstar Rio: City of Saints' Are Free for the Weekend [iOS Blog]
Gameloft is offering up two of its most popular games for free this weekend. Both N.O.V.A. 3 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance and Gangstar Rio: City of Saints can be downloaded at no cost for the first time ever.
Originally released last year, N.O.V.A. 3 is a first person shooter with impressive graphics and a science fiction theme. Like many of Gameloft’s games, it includes a multiplayer mode that supports 12-player battles and voice chat to communicate with friends in real time. Our sister site TouchArcade has a review of both the single player portion of the game and the multiplayer component.
Gangstar Rio: City of Saints was released in late 2011 and is Gameloft’s version of Grand Theft Auto. The game, which takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, provides players with more than 60 missions to complete across five different neighborhoods. TouchArcade reviewed the game when it was released and found that Gangstar Rio offered a robust open-world crime game experience, despite a weak storyline.
Both games are universal and free through the weekend.
- N.O.V.A. 3 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance [Direct Link]
- Gangstar Rio: City of Saints [Direct Link]
Tightening MacBook Air Supplies at Resellers Hint at Upcoming Refresh
As noted by AppleInsider, MacBook Air supplies are beginning to dry up as Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference approaches.
Currently, the 13.3-inch 256GB 1.8Ghz MacBook Air is out of stock at Amazon.com, with a listed one to two month waiting period. While the low end 13.3-inch MacBook Air is in stock, the 11.6-inch MacBook Air is in short supply. Amazon lists an inventory of just ten 1.7Ghz 128GB 11.6-inch MacBook Airs and just one lower end 64GB 11.6-inch MacBook Air available through a third party.
Several other authorized Apple resellers, such as MacConnection, MacMall, and B&H, are also seeing dwindling MacBook Air inventory, with the higher end versions of 13.3-inch MacBook Air being the hardest to find.
Low inventory supplies at third-party Apple retailers are often one of the initial signs of an upcoming product refresh. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will be introducing new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines based on Intel's Haswell processors at WWDC, which takes place next month from June 10 to June 14.
Difficult Negotiations May Prevent 'iRadio' Launch at WWDC
Last week, we noted that Apple was still struggling to convince the major music labels to sign on to its planned streaming service, informally dubbed "iRadio", with Sony and Warner reportedly holding out even after market leader Universal had agreed to Apple's revised terms.
In a new article highlighting how Google was able to announce its own music service ahead of Apple, The Verge notes that Apple's desire to provide a hybrid listener experience has meant more work at the negotiating table.
For starters, Google chose to offer a standard subscription music service very similar to those built by Spotify and Rdio, and that meant the terms had largely been established, according to multiple sources close to the talks. Apple, on the other hand, is pioneering a hybrid web and radio service — one that resembles Pandora but melds it with some on-demand features, the sources said. The licensing agreement had to be created from scratch.According to the report's sources, number four music publisher BMG is also holding out against Apple's proposed terms, and while there still appears to be significant momentum behind iRadio and a desire by many parties to get a deal done as quickly as possible, it is now looking as though Apple may not be able to launch the service at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
Word of Apple's plans for a Pandora-like service surfaced last September, with subsequent reports indicating that Apple was targeting the first quarter of this year for a launch. As negotiations continued to prove difficult, Apple shifted its focus to a summer launch, but it now appears unclear whether the company will be able to meet even that revised goal.
U.S. Department of Defense Approves iOS 6 Devices for Military Networks
Following a report from earlier this month indicating that the U.S. Department of Defense was preparing to approve Apple devices running iOS 6 for use on military networks, Bloomberg now reports that the department has officially issued the authorization, opening the door for greater use of Apple's products.
The Defense Department said in a statement today that it has approved the use of Cupertino, California-based Apple’s products running a version of the iOS 6 mobile platform.The report notes that out of more than 600,000 mobile devices used by the Defense Department, only about 41,000 of those are Apple products, with most of those not connected directly to the military's networks. With the new approvals, Apple and Samsung are expected to eat into BlackBerry's roughly 75% share of mobile devices within the agency.
The decision eventually may spur a three-way fight for a market long dominated by Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry. The Pentagon on May 2 approved Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung’s devices, as well as BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.
As noted in the report earlier this month, the Department of Defense's approval of iOS 6 devices for sensitive applications is expected to have impact beyond the military, with other businesses requiring strict security standards becoming more likely to embrace Apple's products.
Pentagon approval for iOS 6 devices comes just as The Street reports that the U.S. Air Force is expecting to save more than $50 million over ten years following last year's decision to replace thousands of pages of flight manuals with iPads.
"By removing all that paper, [Air Mobility Command] will capture about $750,000 in fuel savings [annually] just based off the decreased weight," said [electronic flight bag program manager Major Brian] Moritz.The Air Force is not the only group switching to iPads to replace traditional flight bags used by pilots, as a number of commercial airlines have also begun transitioning to the technology in order to reduce weight and therefore fuel costs, as well as lighten loads for the pilots themselves.
Removing the need to print and distribute thousands of flight manuals, however, equates to an even greater cost saving. "It comes out to just over $5 million a year," noted Moritz. "With fuel savings, it comes out to $5.7 million annually in pure cost. When you look at $5.7 million a year, over 10 years, that's well over $50 million."
Update: Apple has provided a comment on the Pentagon approval to AllThingsD:
“With iPhone and iPad being tested or deployed in almost every Fortune 500 company, Apple continues to scale across enterprise with nearly 30,000 companies globally developing and distributing iOS apps for corporate use by their employees,” Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told AllThingsD. “The FIPS 140-2 certification and STIG approval demonstrate our ongoing commitment to deliver a secure platform to our enterprise and government customers around the world who deploy iOS devices on their networks.”(Photo: James Rogers/The Street)
Corning Announces 'Lotus XT' Substrate Glass for Brighter, Cheaper Mobile Displays
Corning yesterday announced (via Engadget) the launch of its latest glass substrate for LCD and OLED displays, Lotus XT Glass. While Corning is famous for its Gorilla Glass used by Apple and other device manufacturers to provide durable covers for their displays, substrate glass like Lotus Glass is used within the displays themselves to support the transistors and other components necessary for the displays to function.
The Corning Lotus Glass platform enables organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays and liquid crystal displays (LCD) that use either low-temperature poly-silicon (LTPS) or oxide thin-film transistor (TFT) backplanes. The result is an energy-efficient, immersive display device that features high resolution, fast response times, and bright picture quality.Lotus XT Glass, an improved version of the original Lotus Glass announced in late 2011, offers improved thermal characteristics and stability to help increase efficiency and yield during display production. Lotus XT Glass is available in a variety of thicknesses ranging from 0.4 to 0.7 mm to support various applications.
In an introductory video, Corning vice president John Bayne outlines how Lotus XT Glass will enable better displays with improved yields:
Our customers, the panel makers, are basically making thin-film transistors and aligning those transistors with liquid crystal material and a color filter piece of glass. Everything has to line up just right to work.
The distance features move during processing is called total pitch. And if you measure that from sheet to sheet, it's called total pitch variation. If panel makers can minimize total pitch variation, they can realize higher manufacturing yields and lower costs. In addition, they can design devices that have higher aperture ratios which are brighter and use less power.
It will still take some time for display manufacturers to adopt Lotus Glass XT for use in their processes and for those panels to make their way into finished products, but with Lotus Glass XT offering up to 75% better performance in total pitch variation than the original version, it seems likely that manufacturers will move quickly to adopt the product.
'Haunting Melissa' App Brings Episodic Movie Exclusively to iPhone and iPad [iOS Blog]
Haunting Melissa, from Hooked Media Digital and "The Ring" producer Neil Edelstein, is an app that aims to deliver movies on mobile devices in an entirely new way.
Much like a TV show on iTunes, the film is broken up into segments that can be unlocked by sharing a user's viewing experience on Facebook, purchasing each episode within the app for $1.99 or paying $6.99 to $14.99 for the entire film. In an interview with Bloomberg, Edelstein declined to comment on how many episodes would be available.
Edelstein also said that Hooked Media Digital wanted to find a way to present movies and TV on mobile devices as studios have struggled to account for the rise of mobile video.
"The way stories are consumed has changed, so we set out to alter how stories are told," said Neal Edelstein, founder of Hooked Digital Media, in an interview. "It's terrifying to studios the drain that these devices have placed on the industry, so we have to find a new way to harness them."Although the film could have been released in Apple's iTunes Store, providing it through an app gives Hooked Digital Media greater control over the way the content is delivered. It also gives the studio the ability to add additional story elements at any time, providing users with a unique film viewing experience. In 2011, "The Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola experimented with similar technology in theaters.
Haunting Melissa is a universal app that is available for free in the App Store. [Direct Link]
FTC Begins Sending COPPA Letters to App Developers Ahead of July Rule Change [iOS Blog]
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has begun sending educational letters to app developers to make them aware of upcoming changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that was updated back in December.
The two letters [PDF, PDF] inform developers that the restricted collection of personal information of kids 13-and-under has been expanded to include photographs and video and audio with a child's image, among other things. Previously, only identifying information such as the child's name, address, and telephone number was restricted.
Please note that we have not yet evaluated your apps or your company’s practices to determine if they comply with COPPA as it is now – or as it will be starting July 1, 2013. We are sending you this letter to both alert you to the upcoming COPPA Rule changes and to encourage you to review your apps, your policies, and your procedures for compliance.App 'platforms' like Apple's App Store and Google Play are explicitly exempted from the law and stores are not required to verify that apps are in compliance with the law; instead, it's up to individual developers to verify compliance.
The revised COPPA Rule requires all developers of apps that are directed to children under 13 – or that knowingly collect personal information from children under 13 – to post accurate privacy policies, provide notice, and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing any “personal information” from children.
CW Strikes Deal with Apple to Bring Content to Apple TV
The CW has struck a deal that will bring the network's content to the Apple TV, reports Deadline. At the company's annual Upfront Presentation in New York today, CW president Mark Pedowitz announced that the CW's TV Now applications, which are currently available on Xbox 360 and Windows 8, will be coming to the Apple TV as well.
"This year we're reaching more viewers on more platforms," said Pedowitz, speaking of the deal. "We are reaching our audience everywhere they are, and we want you to be with us everywhere we go," he went on to say to advertisers at the event.
The CW told MacRumors that the app will function similarly to the company's Xbox and mobile apps and confirmed that it will indeed be an app located on the Apple TV's home screen.
It's a dedicated CW app that will work like our Xbox and mobile and tablet apps - no cable authentication required, full episodes of our shows available next day after air, ad-supported.The CW's TV Now app for the Xbox offers free full streaming episodes of network shows like The Vampire Diaries with limited advertising. The app also includes additional content like previews and cast extras. Currently, Apple sells CW content through its iTunes store.
While the Apple TV offers apps and digital content from sites like Netflix and Hulu, it does not include apps from television networks. The partnership between the CW and Apple will mark the first network television app available via the Apple TV.
It is unclear if the CW's app is part of a larger initiative by Apple to bring additional apps to the Apple TV. The CW is a joint venture between Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS, one of the biggest U.S. broadcast networks.
According to the CW, the app is set to launch in the coming weeks, though no exact release date was given.
Tim Cook Shares Details About New 'Made in USA' Mac Model
In his interview with Politico earlier today, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared some additional details about the new Mac model that will be manufactured in the United States when it is announced later this year.
Cook said that not only will the machine be assembled in the U.S., many of the components will be sourced from suppliers in the country as well.
And Cook is also promoting a $100 million investment in domestic manufacturing, where the company will begin producing a new version of a current Mac product later this year.
"We're going very deep in this project," Cook said, noting that not only will the final product be manufactured in the U.S., but so will many of its components. Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Florida and Kentucky are among the states he mentioned as having parts and assembly located.
Cook announced in an interview with Brian Williams last year that an existing Mac line would be manufactured exclusively in the U.S. beginning in 2013.
Speculation had pointed to the Mac Pro, which is due for a significant update, though DigiTimes claimed it was Mac Mini production that would come back from overseas.
Tim Cook Defends Apple's Tax Record Ahead of Senate Committee Appearance [Updated]
Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a break from his predecessor, is giving a number of interviews to Washington press outlets ahead of his appearance in front of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation next week.
Washington newspaper Politico spoke to Cook about Apple's offshore cash pile -- which the company has thus far refused to repatriate to the United States because of the significant tax burden that would result -- and Apple's political activities.
"We don't have a large presence in Washington, as you probably know, but we care deeply about public policy and believe creative policy can be a huge catalyst for a better society and a stronger economy," Cook said in the interview.Cook has agreed to appear in front of the subcommittee on Tuesday morning personally, instead of sending a more junior executive to testify in front of the committee. His predecessor as CEO, Steve Jobs, agreed to very few interviews and tended to stay out of politics entirely.
He also defended his company's conduct. “I can tell you unequivocally Apple does not funnel its domestic profits overseas. We don't do that. We pay taxes on all the products we sell in the U.S., and we pay every dollar that we owe. And so I'd like to be really clear on that,” Cook said.
Apple recently borrowed $17 billion in a bond offering, in part to return cash to shareholders without bringing some of its $100 billion overseas cash pile to the United States. If it were to repatriate that cash to the U.S., it would need to pay a more than $13 billion tax bill.
Update: In an interview with The Washington Post, Cook says he plans to present specific proposals at the Senate hearing to overhaul the U.S. corporate tax system.
"If you look at it today, to repatriate cash to the U.S., you need to pay 35 percent of that cash. And that is a very high number," Cook said in an interview Thursday. "We are not proposing that it be zero. I know many of our peers believe that. But I don’t view that. But I think it has to be reasonable."Cook also pointed out that if state and federal taxes are combined, Apple pays roughly $1 million per hour in taxes, possibly making Apple the largest corporate taxpayer in the country.
Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the comment thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All MacRumors forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
eBay for iOS Updated with Multiple Item Checkout, Driver's License Scanning [iOS Blog]
eBay today released updates to its iPhone and iPad apps, offering a redesigned user interface that includes multiple search views, an improved bidding process for ending auctions, and new shopping cart functionality.
With the new shopping cart, users can add multiple items to the cart and purchase them at the same time with a single payment. The app also features larger photos and better search results, with the iPad version of the app sporting new photo editing tools.
The iPhone app has also gained an interesting new function, allowing users to scan in their drivers licenses with the iPhone's camera to quickly create new accounts.
- New and improved look and feelBoth the iPhone and iPad eBay apps can be downloaded from the App Store for free.
- Checkout multiple items at a time with the new eBay Shopping Cart (US and UK only)
- Tap the grid icon at the top of search results to see larger photos (iOS 6 required)*
- Scan your drivers license for fast and easy eBay registration (available in select US states)
- Improved last minute bidding
- Selling support for Spain
- Many bug fixes and enhancements
- eBay for iPhone [Direct Link]
- eBay for iPad [Direct Link]
Apple Releases MacBook Air Flash Storage Firmware Update 1.0 [Mac Blog]
Apple today released MacBook Air Flash Storage Firmware Update 1.0, an update for Mid-2012 MacBook Air models to address an issue with recovering from crashes.
This update is recommended for MacBook Air (mid 2012) models. This update addresses a storage firmware issue that, in rare cases, may cause a system to fail to recover from a crash.
Flash storage module from mid-2012 MacBook Air (Source: iFixit)
The update is 1.69 MB and requires OS X 10.7.5 or OS X 10.8.3.
Newly Discovered Mac Malware Captures and Stores Screenshots
New Mac spyware was discovered earlier this week on a computer at the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual human rights conference. Located by computer security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, the malware, which has been deemed OSX/KitM.A, is currently being investigated by anti-virus company F-Secure, reports CNET.
The malware is a backdoor application called "macs.app," which launches automatically upon login and captures screenshots that it then sends to a MacApp folder in the user's home directory. Two command-and-control servers, located at securitytable.org and docsforum.info, are associated with the malware, but one does not function and the other gives a "public access forbidden" message.
Interestingly, the malware is signed with an Apple Developer ID, which is designed to prevent the installation of malware. Apps that are unsigned are blocked by default by Apple's Gatekeeper security option.
This bit of malware is somewhat unique in that it is signed with what appears to be a valid Apple Developer ID associated with the name Rajender Kumar. Though not an uncommon name, this may be a reference to the late Bollywood actor of a similar name. Regardless, the use of the ID appears to be an attempt to bypass Apple's Gatekeeper execution prevention technology.Currently, F-Secure is investigating where the malware originated, and though it does not appear to be widespread, it can be mitigated by removing the macs.app program from the log-in menu. Apple often addresses malware threats quickly, and has the ability to revoke the developer ID to further limit the spread of the software.
Apple Updates iTunes to Version 11.0.3 With New MiniPlayer and Improvements
Apple has released an update to its iTunes music and media application, bringing it to version 11.0.3.
The update updates the compact MiniPlayer, adding album artwork and a progress bar, as well as better support for multi-disc albums and large iTunes libraries.
This version of iTunes comes with several new features and improvements, including:The update weighs in at 187.50MB on the Mac, and is available through the Mac App Store, Software Update, and direct from Apple's Software Download Page.
- New MiniPlayer. MiniPlayer now includes a beautiful new view that showcases your album artwork. In addition, a progress bar is now built right into MiniPlayer.
- Improved Songs View. You can now enjoy your album artwork while in Songs view.
- Multi-Disc Albums. Albums with multiple discs now appear as a single album.
This update also provides performance improvements when searching and sorting large iTunes libraries.
The last update to iTunes was released back in February.