Monday Morning News

A Florida-based company has sued Apple for the Apple TV’s “what did she say?” feature. CustomPlay filed a patent for skipping back a predetermined number of seconds, temporarily enabling captions, and then disabling them after the predetermined time has elapsed, and has owned the patent since 1998. CustomPlay says they attempted to contact Apple starting in 2014, but without any response from Apple.

While it remains to be seen whether their patent will cover the kind of voice-activated usage that Apple has on the Apple TV, Apple has recently paid US$2 billion to Nokia to escape some of the former phone giant’s patents, or patents held by its subsidiaries. Nokia alleged last year Apple had infringed on dozens of its patents, and the two companies were about to go toe-to-toe when they both called a truce.

In other large expenditure news, Apple is reportedly paying LG US $2.7 billion for an OLED production line that will be used exclusively for iPhone displays. It seems likely that even if this year’s new iPhone design features OLED and will be highly constrained, future devices will be based on microLED technology.

It should come as no surprise that Apple Stores are the most profitable by area. Research data claims the average sales per square foot of retail space is US $375, with Apple bucking the trend at US $5,546 per square foot. A frozen yogurt company, jewellery retailer Tiffany and Co, and lululemon Atheletica made up the rest of the companies ahead of the trend of declining sales.

It appears the iTunes Store has started listing some movies as 4K HDR, prompting speculation that a new Apple TV with 4K support is on the way. While users with movies that are listed as 4K HDR only appear to be able to download them in HD, MacRumors has confirmed both the UK and Canada have some titles listed as 4K HDR.

Minor HomePod details discovered by trawling through the firmware reveals that the display on top of the unit appears to be some kind of LED matrix, like a super low-res display. The HomePod runs a full iOS stack otherwise, even identifying itself as an iPhone SE to the App Store, not that there’s currently any way to download apps onto the device.

The alleged packaging insert for this year’s iPhone shows off a design that by this stage is starting to look strangely familiar. There’s the small cutout in the top of the device for the sensors, front-facing camera, and earpiece, with an elongated power button above the SIM card slot. There’s no home button on the front of the device, and the screen appears to run most of the way towards the edge of the device.

Apple has removed VPN apps from the Chinese App Store. It’s a move that supports a broader crackdown on VPN technology from the Chinese government, although users of App Stores from other countries should be unaffected by the move.

The last ask the iTunes guy column was published by Kirk McElhearn last week, marking the end of a column that ran for more than five years. Of course, it’s only fitting that the last column asks why iTunes hasn’t been broken up into several apps.

With the death of the iPod Shuffle, The Verge writes that it also marks the death of physical buttons. I’d say the iPod Shuffle was ahead of its time when it introduced voice controls, but it almost always featured physical controls for common playback tasks. The touchscreen has won.

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