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Apple Daily: Apple TV Sinks; Floral Window Display; Samsung and Supreme Court

The Apple TV, long on the rise, is now merely the fourth most popular streaming media device in the U.S. Elsewhere, Apple put up a magnificent display to promote the Apple Watch at Selfridges in London, Samsung has decided to take its patent case with Apple all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and one of the greatest RPGs of all time is now available for iOS.

Apple TV Sinks to Fourth Place Among Streaming Devices

Most current rumors tend to agree that we’ll be seeing a refreshed version of the Apple TV next month (although we may have to wait until next year for Apple’s highly anticipated streaming TV service), and recent research from Parks Associates shows that the update is coming when Apple needs it most. According to their data, the plucky Apple TV has now sunk to being the fourth most popular streaming media device in the U.S. behind Roku, Google’s Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV.

Roku is the dominant force by far in the market, accounting for a full 34 percent of units sold in 2014. Google’s Chromecast followed at 23 percent, and the newly introduced Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick managed to sneak into third place. In 2013, Apple TV firmly held third place. The data is a little different in terms of which devices people actually use, though, as the study noted that 37 percent of the households tracked regularly used their Roku devices, while only 19 percent used their Chromecast, 17 percent regularly used their Apple TV, and just 14 percent used the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.

It’s possible these circumstances could change this fall in the likely event that Apple releases a new Apple TV. The new device is expected to have its own App Store with games, it’s expected to support Siri and contain more storage space, and it’s thought to come with a new touch-based remote control and a redesigned operating system. Competing devices such as the Chromecast will almost certainly remain cheaper, but Apple might be able to win over new customers based on such a wide range of features alone.

Apple Creates Stunning London Window Display to Promote Apple Watch

In one of the more noteworthy advertising projects from Apple in recent years, the Cupertino company has decorated all 24 windows at the famed Selfridges‘ shopping center in London to call attention to the increased availability of the Apple Watch in the U.K. Each window is filled with dozens or hundreds of man-made flowers, with some measuring only a couple of inches across and others measuring almost six feet.

All total, as noted by Wallpaper.com, there are 24 large flowers, 50 medium ones, 250 “small plus” flowers, and (get this) 5,525 small flowers. Apple cast the large and medium flowers from resin and 3D printed the others. The flowers themselves are based on real photos of flowers, and each was hand-painted by a team of artists. Fittingly, each window is match to a face of the Apple Watch.

Selfridges has been known for elaborate windows displays since 1901, but Apple’s latest project is reportedly the first to occupy every exterior window of the store. Selfridges was one of the few retail locations in the world where you could walk in and buy an Apple Watch at launch (a feat that wasn’t even possible in Apple’s own stores), and the latest display is a testament to how much the company believes the location is a fitting setting for the device.

Samsung to Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court in Apple Patent Trial

You’ve got to hand it to Samsung — the company is nothing if not persistent. Barely a week after the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Samsung’s request for a new trial regarding its patent infringement case with Apple dating all the way back to 2012, the San Jose Mercury News reports that the Korean tech giant now plans to send a request by November asking the U.S. Supreme Court to accept its new (and final) appeal.

Samsung currently owes Apple 8 million in damages from the suit, although the amount owed has dropped considerably from the billion originally awarded to Apple by a jury. The company eventually got the number down to its current amount after additional appeals and a technicality, and if the Supreme Court rules in Apple’s favor, an additional 0 million could be struck from the amount Samsung owes Apple.

Samsung continues to argue that the claims of patent infringement were interpreted too broadly in the case, and its last appeal won the support of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Facebook, eBay, HP, and Dell — all of whom argued that such a large payment would have a “devastating impact” on companies.

“The questions present issues of enormous importance to patent litigation and the scope of innovation, especially in high-technology industries,” Samsung’s legal team wrote in a new statement.

Now they’ll just have to wait and see if the Supreme Court will take the case at all. After all, it receives requests for hundreds of cases per year.

Final Fantasy VII Finally Comes to iOS

In case you missed the news in our weekly roundup of the best new iOS games, RPG fans have one more reason to be excited about iPhone and iPad: Final Fantasy VII. Game enthusiasts have been wanting the 1997 masterpiece to come to iOS for years, and last night developer Square Enix granted that wish. The company had said that the acclaimed roleplaying game would be coming to Apple’s mobile operating system back in June’s E3 gaming convention, and now, at last, it’s here.

You’ll need some space, though. Final Fantasy VII may only take up 1.66GB of your device’s storage, but it takes more than 4GB of free space to download. Priced at .99, the game is compatible with the iPhone 5s or later, the 3rd generation iPad or later, and the iPad mini 2 or later. These are all relatively new devices, and yet Square Enix warns that you’ll only get optimal performance on the newest units.

The previous six Final Fantasy games are already available for iOS. The timing of the release is particularly favorable, as the excitement still hasn’t died down from Square Enix’s E3 announcement that it’s in the process of completely remaking the game for modern systems.

 

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Daily: ‘Apple Car’ May Be Tested Soon; Samsung Appeal Denied in Apple Case

New documents suggest that Apple is a lot farther along in its rumored quest to design its own car than previously suspected, although the nature of the car itself is still anyone’s educated guess. In other news, Samsung’s latest attempt to lessen the amount it has to pay to Apple in the aftermath of 2012′s big patent suit was just denied.

Documents Suggest ‘Apple Car’ is Close to Prototyping Stage

We can all stop wondering if the long-rumored Apple Car (or “Project Titan”) is real, according to a new report from The Guardian. It’s so real, in fact, that Apple already appears to be close to the prototype phase, as documents obtained through a public records request strongly suggest that Apple was looking for authorization to test it at California’s GoMentum Station way back in May.

GoMentum Station is known as “the largest secure test facility in the world,” and competitors Mercedes-Benz and Honda have reportedly already used the site’s roughly 20 miles of simulated highways, city streets, railroad crossings, and cattle guards for their own self-driving car experiments. The site, located northeast of San Francisco, contains 2,100 acres on a former naval base that’s now run by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.

Concept via TechnoBuffalo

The correspondence in the documents reveals that Apple engineer Frank Fearon wrote in May that: “We would… like to get an understanding of timing and availability for the space, and how we would need to coordinate around other parties who would be using [it].”

Frank Hall, the program manager for autonomous vehicles at GoMentum Station, responded later in the month, stating that the facility would have to postpone a tour until an unspecified date, but that “We would still like to meet in order to keep everything moving and to meet your testing schedule.”

The new report says nothing about the details of “Project Titan” itself, but it’s notable for assuming in the headline that the car will be self-driving. Previous rumors have been at odds on this subject, with some claiming that the car is merely an electric car and others claiming that it’s both electric and self-driving.

The current batch of rumors tend to agree that Apple plans to release the car in 2020, but that could change. And, of course, there’s always a chance that we may never see the so-called Apple Car at all.

 

Court Rejects Samsung’s Latest Appeal in Patent Case

Samsung is still hard at work trying to lower to amount it needs to pay Apple in the aftermath of 2012′s big patent suit, but according to the San Jose Mercury News, its latest efforts were shut down by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The Korean tech giant was attempting to get the court to reconsider a key point that would affect 0 million of the 8 million payment owed to Apple, but the court would have none of it. As of today, Samsung’s only option left is to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Samsung was originally ordered to pay Apple billion in damages to Apple in 2012, but that number went down a bit following revelations that the jury had made a mistake in part of its judgement. Another appeals court earlier this year brought down the amount to the current 8 million, and Samsung’s latest appeal came after the company wanted all 12 judges on the Federal Circuit court to rehear the case. The three-judge panel from earlier in the year, it claimed, has erred “when it left intact a jury’s verdict that the South Korean tech giant’s smartphones and tablets infringed on Apple’s design patents.”

Google, HP, Facebook, Dell, eBay, and other Silicon Valley companies sided with Samsung’s effort in the latest appeal, arguing in a “friend of the court” brief that forcing Samsung to pay the specified amount would stifle innovation.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Daily: Samsung Copying Apple Again?; 3rd-Party Watch Bands; Apple Pressuring Spotify?

In today’s Apple Daily, it appears Samsung’s up to its old Apple-copying ways again. Meanwhile, a new video shows how you can put a third-party band on your Apple Watch, and what’s this about Apple trying to bully established music streaming services into dropping their free tiers?

Samsung’s New Galaxy Ad Looks…a Little Familiar

It’s been a while since we’ve come across a good ol’ Samsung-copying-Apple story, so naturally Samsung helped us out this weekend by releasing a video showing the creation process behind the Galaxy S6′s curved glass display. But if you’ve been keeping track of the Apple Watch’s promotional videos since, oh, March 9, you might find that the whole thing looks a little too familiar. Like, say, Apple’s own video highlighting the creation process of the gold Apple Watch Edition.

It almost plays like a parody. There’s the background music, there’s the soothing British accent narrating the whole process, there are the shots of metal splashing and the shots of the device coming together. Some of the Samsung shots seem to directly echo those in the Apple video, and both trumpet the materials used to make each product. Samsung has produced a beautiful ad, naturally, but it’s a little difficult to watch it in this context and take its claims of Samsung’s “innovation” too seriously.

 

Third-Party Apple Watch Bands Possible with Tinkering

Apple retains a lot of control over the Apple Watch, to the point that for a while there, it looked as though you’d only be able to get Apple-branded straps for the device. But that isn’t the case, reports Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy, who released a video today demonstrating that you can attach custom bands to the device provided you bought the Classic or Modern Buckle bands. Using the parts from those specific bands, Hilsenteger connects a third-party band to his own Apple Watch.

Hilsenteger accomplished the feat by taking advantage of the two pentalobe screws used to keep the band for the device in place, which can be removed with a pentalobe screwdriver and thus be made to function like a standard replaceable watch band for analog watches. If you want to try the trick with any other Apple watch band, however, you’re apparently out of luck.

In addition, you might be waiting for a while even if you straight up order the Classic or Modern bands, as the online Apple Store claims both devices won’t ship for a while. The 9 Classic band vaguely lists its shipping date as sometime this month, while the Modern Buckle band is dishearteningly listed as “Currently Unavailable.” And considering that the latter costs 9, you should probably make sure that you really, really like that third-party band you want to replace it with.

 

Report: Apple Trying to Convince Streaming Services to Drop Free Tiers

Apple’s belated attempt to bring streaming music services to iTunes by integrating and rebranding Beats sounds exciting, but a new report from The Verge claims that Apple might be using its power to urge well-established streaming services such as Spotify to stop offering their free tiers. That would be a big blow to Spotify, especially since only 15 million of its 60 million users are reportedly free users. It’s such a big step, in fact, that the report claims that the Department of Justice is currently investigating Apple to see if its actions run the danger of removing competition.

All this would seem sketchy if the Financial Times hadn’t reported that Apple was being studied by the European Commission back in the beginning of April for the very same things. Today’s report also claims that Apple wants to get free music from the Universal Music Group off of YouTube, to the point that the Cupertino company has reportedly volunteered to pay YouTube’s licensing fees to Universal if the label stops hosting videos on the popular video site.

Apple naturally wants its service to be a compelling alternative to the existing services, and it’s thought that the Cupertino company will stuff its upcoming offering with a truckload of exclusives. Barring a backlash, knocking out the most appealing thing about the competition would potentially drive more people to Apple’s service.

Apple is expected to unveil the service on June 8 at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. It’s expected to be highly integrated with both iTunes on the Mac and the Music app on iOS devices, and it’s thought the service will cost .99 per month (or less).

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Daily: Apple Tops Samsung in Smartphone Sales, Hires Own Security Force

A new report shows just how impressive Apple’s fourth quarter for 2014 was, and this one claims iPhones finally outsold Samsung handsets. In addition, Apple’s now saying “no” to contracted security guards for most of its operations, opting instead to create its own security force.

Gartner: Apple Overtook Samsung in Smartphone Sales in Q4 2014

Apple’s explosive fourth quarter for 2014 was reportedly good enough for the Cupertino company to emerge as the world’s largest smartphone maker. According to a new report from Gartner, Apple beat Samsung in worldwide smartphone sales for the first time since 2011, thanks to 74.8 million smartphone sales compared to Samsung’s 73 million.

Impressive, but it’s ultimately a tough call. Back in January, Strategy Analytics reported that Apple had actually tied for the fourth quarter. And the same cautionary footnote expressed then remains — namely, that Samsung doesn’t officially report the numbers for its smartphone sales. As a consequence, most Samsung figures reported by research firms like Gartner are based on highly educated guesses.

It’s also important to note that Apple may have dominated the fourth quarter, but its sales considerably lagged behind of those of Samsung for the entire year. The Korean tech giant sold an estimated 307.6 million smartphones in 2014, accounting for a 24.7 percent share of the market, while Apple’s 191.4 iPhone sales allowed it to close the year with a 15.4 percent share of the smartphone market.

Apple is Hiring Its Former Contracted Security Guards for Full-Time, In-House Positions

Apple CEO Tim Cook once said that he wanted Apple to be a “force for good” under his tenure, and he appears to be extending that philosophy to a greater percentage of the workforce associated with the company. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Apple will no longer use contracted security guards for the majority of its operations. Instead, the guards will be members of Apple’s own security team, and they’ll share the same benefits enjoyed by other employees, such as full health insurance coverage, parental leave of absence, and contributions to retirement funds.

That doesn’t mean Apple will stop using contracted security guards entirely — indeed, the guards at Apple’s upcoming “Spring Forward” event on Monday largely won’t be a part of Apple’s workforce. Still, Apple has apparently already puts its words into action, as MacRumors reports that some security guards with “Apple Security” shirts were reportedly seen watching over San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center over the weekend as crews prepared for the upcoming event.

Notably, most of the new security hires will come from the same group of contracted guards that’s already used to working with Apple.

“We will be hiring a large number of full-time people to handle our day-to-day security needs,” an Apple spokeswoman told the San Jose Mercury News. “We hope that virtually all of these positions will be filled by employees from our current security vendor and we’re working closely with them on this process.”

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Daily: Cook Remembers Jobs; 2014 iOS Sales; Samsung iPhone Memory

Apple fans are once again remembering the life and times of Steve Jobs today on what would have been the 60th birthday of the legendary co-founder. In our Tuesday edition of Apple Daily, we’ll find out how current CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that date, along with news that Samsung may still be in the iPhone memory game, the latest Apple acquisition, and how much of the smartphone market iOS and Android have gobbled up to date.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Commemorates Steve Jobs’s 60th Birthday

It’s been just over four years since the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, but his predecessor certainly hasn’t forgotten the influential legacy of the man who brought him into the Cupertino fold. On Tuesday morning, current CEO Tim Cook started his day with a tweet acknowledging Jobs’ birthday on February 24.

Steve Jobs holds Apple

“Remembering Steve, who would have turned 60 today,” Cook wrote, capped off by a quote from his former mentor: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Although Cook’s influence has changed many things at Apple over the last four years, there’s little doubt that the executive team and the iPhone maker’s global workforce continue to live by those words. (For more Steve Jobs quotes, click here.)

Next-Gen iPhone Will Mostly Use Samsung Memory Chips

The Korea Times reported late Monday that Samsung Electronics appears to still be very much in the Apple manufacturing game, despite rumors of an icier relationship between the two patent foes. An unnamed industry official claims Samsung will provide “at least half” of the DRAM chips needed for this year’s presumed iPhone 6S, and the door appears to be open for Apple to increase that amount, should it become necessary. Samsung will also reportedly provide mobile processors for the same device, which is widely expected to arrive this fall.

Samsung mobile memory chips

Apple Acquires Audio Plug-In Developer Camel Audio

Apple’s music-centric software GarageBand and Logic Pro X could become a lot more powerful in the future, thanks to Cupertino’s acquisition of music software plug-in maker Camel Audio. According to The Loop, the creators of Alchemy quietly closed their doors back on January 8, removing all products for purchase and limiting email and download support for previous purchases.

Camel Audio - Alchemy

As noted by MacRumors, Camel Audio’s corporate registry now points to Apple’s London address at 100 New Bridge Street, while the company’s only director is listed as Heather Joy Morrison, one of Cupertino’s fleet of attorneys. An Apple spokesperson confirmed the acquisition to The Loop in their typically standard way: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

iOS, Android Now Dominate 96.3 Percent of Smartphone Market

Poor Microsoft and BlackBerry: The latest quarterly smartphone data from IDC is now available, and it shows Apple and Google absolutely dominating the worldwide market with 96.3 percent of shipments made during the fourth quarter of last year, a slight increase from 95.6 percent during the same quarter in 2013.

iPhone hovers over Earth

Unfortunately, Android accounted for 76.6 percent of all smartphones sold, but considering how few iPhone models Apple actually has in the lineup, 19.7 percent is nothing to sneeze at — especially when it coincides with 46.1 percent year-over-year growth. (By comparison, Windows Phone holds a meager 2.8 percent share, while BlackBerry slipped into near-total irrelevance with 0.4 percent. Ouch!)

IDC released its calendar year 2014 data as well, painting very much the same picture, with iOS and Android again responsible for a whopping 96.3 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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