Monday, December 09, 2013, 07:28 pm PT (10:28 pm ET)
In previous years, Apple limited the promotion to Europe and Canada, though for 2013, the company is bringing the app and freebies to the U.S. The program runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 6, with each day bringing a free downloadable song, app, book, movie and more. Every offer is valid for only 24 hours and some content may not be available in all areas.
12 Days of Gifts is a free 64.7MB download from the App Store.
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Monday, December 09, 2013, 01:51 pm PT (04:51 pm ET)
Popular Internet radio service Pandora has updated their iOS app with a new iOS 7-style design and an alarm clock feature, while Amazon’s Cloud Drive Photos app has gone universal with support for Apple’s iPad and iPad mini.
Pandora users can now instruct the their iPad and iPhone app to wake them at a predetermined time by playing one of their custom radio stations, rounding out the app’s sleep-related functionality after the app’s last update brought sleep timer functionality.
Like Apple’s own alarm, Pandora’s version can be silenced permanently or snoozed temporarily via touch controls on the device’s display, and users also have the option to let the music continue playing.
Additionally, the app gets a new visual design that more closely matches Apple’s new iOS 7 aesthetic. The company also promises “other small improvements and bug fixes.”
Pandora version 5.1 is available now as a free, 32.6-megabyte download from the App Store.
Amazon Cloud Drive Photos
The Internet retai giant has brought its Cloud Drive Photos app to Apple’s tablets in the latest update, allowing Amazon Cloud Drive users with iPad or iPad mini units to display their photos and videos on the devices’ larger canvas.
Videos up to two gigabytes in size or 20 minutes in length can now be uploaded or downloaded through the app, and saved video can be instantly streamed to any of a users’ other devices. A new autosave feature, similar to that found in Dropbox’s iOS app, can back up a user’s camera roll to Amazon’s servers automatically.
Amazon says the update, the app’s first major version bump since it debuted in May, brings “crash and bug fixes” as well.
Amazon Cloud Drive Photos version 2.0 is available today as a free, 19.7-megabyte download from the App Store.
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Monday, December 09, 2013, 03:18 pm PT (06:18 pm ET)
Not much has been heard of former iOS head Scott Forstall since he was fired from Apple in 2012, but a report published on Monday claims to shed some light on the ousted executive’s activities over the past year.
Forstall was highlighted in one of technology and business publication The Information’s first reports (via Business Insider), which assembled a list of the tech industry’s “free agents,” or big-name executives no longer attached to a specific company.
Over the past year, Forstall has spent time traveling to Italy and South Africa, possibly as part of a new interest in philanthropy. Exactly what philanthropic activities he participated in is not clear, as the report falls short of providing specifics, only mentioning a focus in education, poverty and human rights.
Perhaps more interesting is Forstall’s alleged involvement in unnamed startups. According to the publication, he has advised a number of up and coming tech firms and is still in contact with venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz. It is also noted, however, that Apple employees believe the former iOS chief is more likely to start his own company.
Forstall was ousted from Apple in 2012 following a brouhaha over the company’s then-new Maps app. The debacle ultimately ended in a public apology from CEO Tim Cook, which sources say Forstall refused to sign.
Credited as the co-inventor of iOS, Forstall was an important figure in Cupertino, to the degree where some believed he could one day be Apple’s CEO. The former SVP of iOS Software has been profiled as being “maddeningly political” and reportedly butted heads with other executives, including SVP of Design Jony Ive.
At the time of his departure, it was reported that Forstall would be staying on as a special advisor to Tim Cook until 2013, though his presence at the company effectively ended in October 2012.
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Monday, December 09, 2013, 05:28 am PT (08:28 am ET)
Apple appears to have completely caught up with consumer demand for its flagship iPhone 5s, with a new survey of the company’s retail stores finding all models completely in stock at all locations.
An Apple Store grand opening in October. Credit: AppleInsider reader Ryan.
The research team at investment firm Piper Jaffray has conducted bi-weekly polls of 60 U.S. Apple Stores. They found that as of last week, all models of the iPhone 5s were 100 percent in stock at all locations polled.
That availability even includes unlocked iPhone 5s models, which can be purchased at full unsubsidized pricing starting at $649 for the 16-gigabyte entry-level capacity.
Analyst Gene Munster said the survey shows that supply of the iPhone 5s has improved “dramatically” from just two weeks ago, when only 24 percent of Apple’s retail stores were found to have all iPhone models in stock. In contrast, just 8 percent of Apple’s stores had full iPhone availability at the start of October.
“We believe Apple has caught up to demand, which we had expected ahead of the core holiday period,” Munster wrote. “In reflecting on the supply for the 5S product launch overall, we believe that net-net Apple has done a better job in supplying stores with phones proportional to demand.”
Source: Piper Jaffray.
Complete retail availability of the iPhone 5s comes as online shipping times have also improved to just one to three days for all models. Shipping times have expedited quickly, improving from three to five days just a few weeks ago.
Since its launch in September, the iPhone 5s has faced supply constraints as Apple was reportedly affected by low yields of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Reports from Apple’s supply chain suggested the company was having difficulty ramping up production to its usual levels.
Supply of the iPhone 5s was said to be plentiful over the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend at both Apple’s own retail stores, U.S. carrier partners ATT, Verizon and Sprint, and resellers such as Best Buy and Walmart.
Piper Jaffray has predicted that iPhone sales will grow 16 percent year over year in the current December quarter. Munster has also forecast that iPhone sales in the March 2014 quarter will grow 12 percent.
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Monday, December 09, 2013, 07:10 am PT (10:10 am ET)
Apple and a consortium of other tech industry giants have signed their names to an open letter addressed to President Obama and members of Congress, calling for substantial reforms to the regulation and oversight of surveillance performed by agencies like the NSA.
The letter reaffirms the tech giants’ opposition to the large-scale surveillance operations carried out by the NSA and foreign counterparts such as Britain’s GCHQ, saying that such operations have tipped the balance of power “too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual” and arguing that the unfettered surveillance “undermines the freedoms we all cherish.” Joining Apple are AOL, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo.
Readers are directed to an accompanying website — ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com — which lays out five principles the group believes governments should consider during the drafting of legislation. The five policies are designed “with the goals of ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight,” according to the website.
This most recent letter, which the Wall Street Journal reports will appear in the form of a full-page advertisement in the Monday editions of the Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, Roll Call, and The Hill, among others, is not the first public word from Apple on the issue.
Following the revelation of the NSA’s PRISM data collection program in June, of which Apple was said to be a participant, the company issued a rare public statement entitled “Apple’s Commitment to Customer Privacy” in which they reiterated that they “do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order.”
Then, in July, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company joined with 62 other public companies, non-profits and trade groups — including Microsoft, Google, and Facebook — to demand that the government allow the companies to be more transparent about the number and scope of requests they receive for users’ data. That request was followed in November by a new “Report on Government Information Requests” that shed more light on exactly how many requests it receives from intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Monday’s full letter is reproduced below:
Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,
We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.
For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.
We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com
AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo
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Monday, December 09, 2013, 08:02 am PT (11:02 am ET)
Apple this week will participate in a worldwide campaign from Code.org, offering children and teenagers a one-hour introduction to computer science class at its retail locations throughout the U.S.
Apple’s “Hour of Code Youth Workshops” are designed to “demystify code,” the company said, showing that anyone can learn the basics of computer programming. Interested parties can find their nearest Apple Store on the company’s website, where they can also sign up in advance.
The Hour of Code is an effort to have 10 million people participate during Computer Science Education Week, which runs from Dec. 9 through 15.
Those who want to teach their own Hour of Code can find tips and instructions on the official Code.org site. There, a number of tutorials are provided in as many as 20 languages to allow students to participate.
According to Code.org, nearly 2 million people have learned an Hour of Code so far, with nearly 55 million lines of code having been written by students.
Support for the Hour of Code goes well beyond Apple, with President Barack Obama and Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor endorsing the event. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has also pitched in to promote the event, as well as entertainers ranging from Ashton Kutcher to Shakira.
Code.org said on Monday that this year’s Computer Science Education Week will include 5 million students in 35,000 schools from 167 countries participating in their first Hour of Code.
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