Sprint to Launch iPhone Through Prepaid Brand Virgin Mobile in Coming Weeks

Today, MarketWatch reports that Sprint will announce later this week that it will start to offer the iPhone as a prepaid option via its Virgin Mobile brand. This announcement comes just days after Leap Wireless announced that it would begin offering the iPhone on a prepaid basis through its Cricket brand beginning June 22.

The Overland Park, Kan., carrier will announce this week it will offer the popular smartphone on its Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go brand starting as soon as July 1, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. Sprint follows Leap Wireless International Inc. in selling the device with prepaid service.

By offering the iPhone, Sprint may help satisfy its commitment to Apple to buy $15.5 billion of the phones over four years, an aggressive bet as more carriers are getting access to the once-exclusive device. Sprint’s prepaid service, which also includes the Boost Mobile brand, has been its lone area of growth as contract customers have fled.

The pricing on Virgin Mobile for the iPhone remains unknown, and it is also not known if Sprint’s Boost Mobile brand will also have access to the device. Rumors in the past have suggested that Boost may add the iPhone in September.

Currently, Virgin Mobile’s existing smartphone plan start at $35 per month with unlimited data (throttled after 2.5 GB). However, the report says that it is unknown whether the iPhone will be eligible for the carrier’s cheapest plans.

It seems that Apple is starting to get into the pre-paid market heavily with the iPhone.

WSJ: Apple to abandon Google Maps on iOS later this year

A few months ago, it was reported that Apple will drop Google Maps in iOS 6, which would be a major blow to the company. Now, The Wall Street Journal reemphasizes that Apple will indeed abandon Google Maps in iOS later this year. Present and former Apple employees have revealed this to the publication. Apple would instead “release a new mapping app that runs Apple’s own technology,” the report said.

One source also suggested that Apple may show off the new Maps.app at WWDC 2012 next week in San Francisco, CA. Apple is also reportedly looking to convince third-party application developers to implement its technology into their apps.

WSJ’s report also revealed that Apple planning to ditch Google Maps has been in the works for years, and due to the rapid rise of Android sales, it is believed to have quickened the pace of the company’s plans.

Apple had previously hinted at the change when it went on a buying spree and bought a series of Mapping companies including – Placebase, an online mapping company; C3 Technologies, a mapping company that offers Photorealistic 3D maps; and Poly9, a Canadian 3D mapping startup. In fact, Apple may even make use of C3 Technologies’ 3D maps technology.

Also, earlier this year, it was revealed that Apple wasn’t using Google Maps in iPhoto for iOS, but instead using OpenStreetMap and other services to generate map data.


Rumor: Apple to Update Nearly Entire Mac Lineup at WWDC 2012

It seems that 9to5Mac has somehow been able to get their hands on the announcements for next week. Even though they may turn out to be true, it should be noted that it is all *speculation* until Apple confirms it. Now, 9to5Mac reports that Apple will update nearly all of its Mac products at next weeks Worldwide Developers Conference. The report suggests that Apple will update “at least four” out the company’s five Mac families.

Recent rumors have suggested that the MacBook Pro will receive a significant upgrade, with a slimmer form factor. Apple’s iMac lineup and MacBook Air lineup are also probably going to receive an update. The report also suggests that the MacBook Airs and MacBook Pro will offer the Retina display. iMacs have also been rumored to receive the Retina display.

9to5Mac also says that the Mac Mini will also receive an update and possibly the Mac Pro too. The report also suggests that Apple may also introduce new and updated accessories along with the new Macs.

Sounds like next week is going to be expensive.

Siri Reportedly Coming to iPad with iOS 6

With WWDC 2012 just a week away, rumors are in full swing. 9to5Mac reports that one of the major new features coming in iOS 6 is the addition of Siri to the iPad. Currently, Siri only supports the iPhone 4S, with the new iPad having support for the dictation aspect of Apple and Nuance’s voice recognition partnership. However, the iPad does not fully support Siri’s capabilities.

Siri on the iPad is activated by a quick hold of the home button, just like on the iPhone 4S. The interface slides up from below the display with a clever animation. Siri is built into the iPad as a small window on top of whatever interface the user is currently interacting with. This Siri window with rounded corners sits at the bottom center of the display, as you can see in our mockup above. The Siri iPad interface takes very little space over the iPad interface currently in use, and is designed with the same linen texture as on the iPhone 4S. Siri for iPad also works from the lock screen.

The report also suggests that Siri for iPad may be exclusive to the new third-generation models, which should come as no surprise. It is also unclear whether Apple will reveal the feature at next week’s WWDC 2012 keynote or if the company will decide to reveal the feature later this year.

iOS 6 to Bring Systemwide Facebook Integration

WWDC 2012 is about a week away, and the rumors just don’t stop showing up. TechCrunch reports that iOS 6 will include system-level integration of Facebook, which would be similar to the Twitter integration added in iOS 5 last year. In fact, just a few days ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at Facebook integration and Siri improvements at the D10 Conference.

TechCrunch also says that Apple and Facebook are still working on how sharing items to Facebook will work, due to the varying levels of permissions on Facebook posts. The report also says that the Apple has been known to change its mind in the past, but as of right now Facebook integration in iOS 6 is a given. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Apple added this in iOS 6 though.

After much speculation, Facebook integration will indeed be baked into the latest version of iOS, we’ve learned. […]

To be clear, Twitter will still very much be a part of the new iOS (presumably named “iOS 6″ and codenamed “Sundance“), and that company will be holding sessions at WWDC to chat more about the continued partnership (including the integration into the forthcoming OS X Mountain Lion). But Facebook integration will be very important for iOS — tons of apps use Facebook for sign-ups and authentication (many use Facebook as the only way to do this, to the dismay of some). Apple was undoubtedly watching this activity and realized that it was time to formally bring Facebook on board.

iOS 6 is expected to be unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference later this month.

Apple Starts Building New Cafeteria Building for Employees in Cupertino [Photos of Progress]

A month ago we reported that Apple is working on building a new cafeteria for employees in Cupertino, CA. The new cafeteria will be a few blocks away from its main headquarters. Apple’s new cafeteria is mainly for workers from Apple’s satellite buildings in the neighborhood.

This new cafeteria will give employees a private location to eat and conduct business without needing to worry about competitors overhearing their conversations. The new cafeteria will as well offer private meeting rooms, lounge areas, courtyard space, and a 70-space parking garage underneath the cafe. It will also have a 1,000 seat corporate auditorium, a fitness center, central plant, parking and new 300,000 square feet research facilities.

The construction site looked like this in April:

Apple's new cafeteria permit board

Apple new cafeteria

Apple new cafeteria

A month later it seems that construction workers have already started to build the cafeteria:

Apple new cafeteria may 1

Apple new cafeteria may 2

The company does allow visitors to eat at Caffe Macs (Apple’s on site restaurant at the main campus) if they are accompanied by an employee. However, this new cafeteria will be exclusively for employees. We’ll post more pictures as more progress occurs.

Apple Acquiring Italian Digital Audio Editing Software Firm Redmatica

It seems that Apple has been acquiring a lot more companies lately. Last year, they acquired Anobit, an Israel-based flash memory company for $400 million. Earlier this year, Apple acquired Chomp, an app search engine.  Now, TechCrunch points to an article [Google translation] from Italian blog Fanpage reporting that Apple has shown interest in purchasing Redmatica. Redmatica is a small Italian software company responsible for audio editing apps such as Keymap Pro and AutoSampler.

In addition, evidence of the acquisition has appeared in the weekly bulletin of AGCM, Italy’s antitrust regulatory agency. The announcement, which is in Italian, can be found on page 37 of the bulletin (PDF) published on May 28.

Under the provisions of the contract “Asset Purchase Agreement Relating to the business as an ongoing concern of Redmatica S.r.l.” (hereinafter the Agreement) with the present operation, Apple inte

AGCM said that the proposed acquisition would not be anticompetitive due to the  small sizes of the entities in that specific market and an abundance of competitors. Also, the agency does not object to the acquisition by Apple.

Nest Thermostat Now Available for Purchase Via Apple’s Online Store

After about nine hours of down time, Apple’s online store is back up and is now offering the Nest thermostat for $249.95. That’s a $.95 premium over its suggested retail price.

Nest is a new product created by ex-Apple executive Tony Fadell, who is credited with the title “grandfather of the iPod.” The thermostat is the first product from Nest Labs , which was founded by founded by Fadell after he left Apple in 2010.

“The Nest Learning Thermostat helps you stop wasting energy, while providing control using your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac,” the official product description reads on Apple’s online store.

The thermostat is also being advertised as being compatible with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, all iPad models, and the third and fourth generation iPod touch. Some features include:

  • Remembers preferred temperatures
  • Creates a personalized schedule
  • Turns itself down when your house is empty
  • Uses Airwave to automatically lower cooling costs
  • Change the temperature from anywhere
  • Control Nest anywhere with iPhone, iPad, or Mac
  • Shows exactly when heating or cooling was on
  • Points out what causes spikes in energy use

Video Highlights of Tim Cook’s D10 Interview

Last night, Apple CEO Tim Cook was interviewed by  Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at D10. He said that Apple will “double down” on secrecy and even hinted at Facebook integration in iOS and improvements to Siri. Also, Cook deflected questions about the TV, but did mention that it is an area of intense interest.

AllThingsD has now posted highlights from the interview. The highlights shows Cook’s thoughts on a number of topics, including the impact of the iPad, Steve Jobs’ passing, patent litigation, and more.

Several other video clips from the interview have also been posted.

Tim Cook at D10: Deflects Questions about TV, Is an Area of “Intense Interest”

At this year’s All Things D conference, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher interviewed Apple CEO Tim Cook on a variety of topics. MacRumors has a full transcript of the interview. One of the topics he was asked about is the Apple TV and the company’s interest in making a full fledged television set. Right now, Apple just sells a $99 version, which is a mini black box. Rumors regarding the full fledged Apple TV has been in full swing this year.

During the interview, Cook once again emphasized the small success of the current Apple TV. He revealed that the device has been selling twice the rate of the previous year with 2.7 million units sold in the first 6 months of 2012. Last year, Apple sold a little under 3 million. Cook also reported that there is incredibly high customer satisfaction with the current Apple TV set top box, and it’s an area they have intense interest in:

This is an area of intense interest for us. Many of us, the TV that we do watch, is almost exclusively on [the Apple TV]. That’s what my TV watching is. All of my movies, everything is coming through Apple TV.So, the customer satisfaction with that product is incredible. We’re going to keep pulling this string and see where it takes us. Many people would say “this is an area in their life that they aren’t pleased with.” They might not be pleased with many things about it. The whole TV experience. It’s an interesting area. We’ll have to see what we do. Right now our contribution is Apple TV.
Later on in the interview when Mossberg asked  “Are you making a television,” Cook replied that he’s not going to answer that question.
However, Cook did discuss their general approach to product design in response to Apple’s possible contribution to the television market:
We would look at this and say can we control the key technology? Can we make a significant contribution beyond what others have made in this area? Can we make a product that we would all want? That’s all thing we would ask about any new product category. It’s the ones we ask about products within families we’re thinking about now.