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Beats and Earbuds, Nokia's Imaging Brains And US Legal Requests, Tiny Displays And iPhone 6 Release Dates

May 10 2014, 1:51pm CDT | by , in News | Apple

Beats and Earbuds, Nokia's Imaging Brains And US Legal Requests, Tiny Displays And iPhone 6 Release Dates
 
 

Taking a look at Apple’s purchase of Beats, more iPhone 6 rumours, killing the heartbeat buds rumor, staff movements, legal requests, an upset Swatch, and the progress of the circular HQ. Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many things that happened around Apple over the last seven days.

Apple Inexplicably Buys Beats


While the final confirmation has not yet arrived there is every indication that Apple’s purchase of Beats Electronics, the company behind a number of fashionable headphones and audio equipment, for $3.2 billion dollars (reports Mashable via Dr Dre’s Facebook video message). While many people are scratching their heads at this deal, including Forbes’ Gordon Kelly:

But what really highlights the lunacy of the Beats deal are the alternatives Apple is spurning. As mentioned, if it is about headphones then Monster is the better and cheaper purchase and audiophile brands like Shure, Sennheiser, Grado, Bowers & Wilkins, AKG and ACS all wipe the floor with Beats and could be purchased for peanuts. Meanwhile if it is about streaming why not aim for the very top since Spotify itself carries a valuation of roughly $4 billion. Apple takes top spot and removes its biggest rival in one fell swoop.

If and when the deal is complete and Apple start to work with its new department, we’ll see the thinking behind the purchase. For now, it is a bit of a mystery.

Get Ready For The iPhone 6 In August

Staying in the rumour territory are the reports of the iPhone 6 availability (reports Reuters and others). While history suggests a late September reveal, a number of companies in the supply chain believe that the next smartphone from Apple will be announced one month earlier, in August. A 4.7 inch screen will arrive that month, and a phablet with a 5.5 inch or larger screened device will follow. While these are unconfirmed, there is more evidence building up to back up this case.

Heartbeat Headphones a Secret Spoof (or is that a spoof itself…)

Speaking of rumour, the idea of heartbeat sensing headphones (mentioned in Apple Loop last week) has proven to be a fake story planted via Secret.ly… Unless the idea of the heartbeat headphones being a spoof is actually a double-spoof. Time will tell, but it still sounds more plausible than many stories. Couple that with the hire  of the medical researcher Eric Winkier there’s a general feeling (still) that Apple are looking for more medical devices and hardware. If not this story, what else are they working on?

Apple Swoops In For Nokia’s Imaging Expert

More interesting movements for staffing at Apple, as Cupertino hire Ari Partinen from Nokia (reports The Guardian). Having spent seven years with the former smartphone manufacturer, and working on landmark imaging devices such as the Lumia 1020 and the PureView 808. Imaging is still one of the battlegrounds of innovation in the smartphone wars, so the knowledge and drive  that Partinen brought to Nokia will be welcome inside Apple.

Apple’s Communications VP To Retire

Staying with staffing news, Apple’ long-serving VP of Worldwide Corporate Communications Katie Cotton is leaving. Having spent eighteen years working hard to create a void of silence and no comment, she’s now moving on to spend more time with her children.  Her replacement will likely continue that policy, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Someone Has Been Asking About Your Data

Requests for data from government agencies remains a touchstone issue, and Apple’s statement this week talks about their approach to legal requests. Unless there is a non-disclosure clause, Apple will reveal requests for user data under US law at their own discretion.

Apple has also noted what can and cannot be made available:

Please note the only categories of user-generated active files that can be provided to law enforcement, pursuant to a valid search warrant, are: SMS, photos, videos, contacts, audio recording, and call history. Apple cannot provide: email, calendar entries, or any third-party App data.

The Tiny Display Company That Could Answer Apple’s OLED Issues

Forbes’ Mark Rogowsky has picked up on another acquisition by Apple. LuxVue Technology works on micro-LCD technology, and has previously raised $43 million in funding. Why would Apple be interested in a company that works with very small screens? Rogowsky thinks the answer lies in the OLED technology, and not the obvious smartwatch angle.

It’s possible the technology LuxVue is working on could be scaled to larger, smartphone-sized displays as well. One great feature of the Moto X is that it can turn on only a small portion of the screen to show notifications, thereby using very little battery to do so. That trick relies on OLED technology, which can “wake” only a few pixels at a time. On an LCD like the iPhone’s, once you turn on the screen’s backlight, you are basically using all the power of the display. It’s less efficient and one of the reason why OLED will ultimately overtake LCD — even if the completion of that transition is still years away.

Would You Confuse iSwatch With iWatch?

Swiss watchmakers Swatch aren’t particularly happy with Apple’s trademark on ‘iWatch’. It’s rather close to ‘iSwatch’, which they use for a range of digital watches (reports James Titcomb for The Telegraph). It’s no more than a quiet note to Apple at the moment, but worth keeping an eye on.

 

And Finally… 

Construction of Apple’s circular HQ is under way, and Apple Toolbox has a number of pictures of the current work. Although there is still lots of work to go, the shape is obvious from the dirt tracks and foundations.

That’s it for this week on the Apple Loop, have a great weekend, and see you here next week! Forbes’ previous Apple Loop column can be found here.

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