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Apple Releases iOS 7.1.1 With Touch ID Improvements, Bug Fixes

Apple today released iOS 7.1.1 to the public, a month and a half after releasing its first major update, iOS 7.1. While iOS 7.1 included several visual tweaks along with the addition of CarPlay, Siri improvements, and Touch ID enhancements, today's minor update focuses only on bug fixes.

iOS 7.1.1, labeled as build 11D201, offers additional improvements to Apple's Touch ID, fixes a bug that impacts keyboard responsiveness, and fixes a bug involving Bluetooth keyboards with VoiceOver enabled. The update also includes Safari support for new top-level domains like .photo and .camera.

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This update contains improvements, bug fixes and security updates, including:

- Further improvements to Touch ID fingerprint recognition
- Fixes a bug that could impact keyboard responsiveness
- Fixes an issue when using Bluetooth keyboards with VoiceOver enabled
iOS 7.1.1 can be downloaded via the software update tool in the settings menu on iOS devices.

Apple has also released a 6.1.1 update for the Apple TV.


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Apple’s In-Store Reuse and Recycling Program Now Offering Trade-In Credit for Used iPads

As part of a larger green initiative to help consumers recycle old iOS devices, Apple is now expanding its Reuse & Recycling program in the U.S. and Canada to include the iPad, reports 9to5Mac. Apple also is making it easier for consumers to purchase new devices with more flexible terms for applying in-store credits obtained when recycling an iOS device.

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Previously, Apple's in-store Reuse & Recycling program accepted only iPhone models, which customers could trade-in for a store credit that could be used to purchase a new iPhone. Under this new plan, Apple will accept either an iPad or an iPhone for trade-in and will issue a credit that can be used towards a new purchase.

Customers may apply this credit towards a new iPhone or iPad, regardless of which device they are trading in, and they can even combine iPad and iPhone credits (with a limit of one of each device type) to apply toward the purchase of a new device. For example, a customer could trade-in an iPhone 5 and an iPad 2 to receive credits that can be combined to purchase a new iPad Air.

Apple yesterday confirmed it was expanding its Reuse & Recycling program to include all devices, regardless of their condition. Besides the iPad, Apple will accept for free any broken or older model Apple product providing customers with a way to easily recycle the device responsibly. If a recycled iPhone or iPad has some remaining value as determined by in-store Apple Specialists, Apple will issue a store credit.

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This expansion is part of Apple's Earth Day celebration that began with the company's "Better" environmental campaign, which highlighted Apple's environmental efforts across its supply chain, its data centers and in its new Apple Campus 2 project. Apple also is commemorating Earth Day at its retail stores by placing a green leaf on its traditionally white Apple logo and issuing green t-shirts to its retail employees.


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Apple May Be Using ‘Brightflash’ Shell Company to Pursue iWatch Trademark Protection

Following our report yesterday about Apple expanding its trademark protection to use the "Apple" name in association with jewelry and watches in a number of countries, MacRumors has discovered that Apple may be quietly continuing to pursue trademarks on the "iWatch" name itself.

Evidence of Apple's interest in the iWatch name surfaced last June as the company began registering for trademarks on the "iWatch" name in a number of countries. Several major countries including the United States were not included in that list, and it was unclear whether Apple was holding off due to conflicts with pending trademark applications in those countries or if there were other issues in play.

At the time, reports mentioned several of those conflicting applications in the United States, but we now believe that one of those applications may in fact be Apple itself operating in disguise using a shell company by the name of Brightflash USA LLC. While MacRumors has yet to discover a smoking gun linking Apple to Brightflash, there are several pieces of circumstantial evidence pointing in that direction, thereby suggesting that Apple is indeed continuing to quietly lay the groundwork for an iWatch launch.

- Timing: Brightflash filed its iWatch trademark application in the United States on June 5, 2013, alongside the surge of applications by Apple in other countries during the span of June 3-5. While it is possible that the timing is a coincidence or the result of a separate company moving extremely quickly to apply for the mark after news of Apple's applications in other countries started breaking on June 5, this would appear to be unlikely.

- Concealed company structure and location: Brightflash is registered in Delaware, a common location for incorporation due to the state's business-friendly laws. According to state records, Brightflash was formed on June 27, 2012 and the company uses the Corporation Trust Center in Wilmington, Delaware as its address. That building serves as the home of hundreds of thousands of companies, streamlining the process of locating in Delaware and providing a level of anonymity for companies registering using the firm's services.

brightflash_corp_listing
- Few leads on company representatives: Efforts to determine Brightflash's executives and representatives have proven difficult as well, with the initial trademark application using attorney John Sullivan at the same Corporation Trust Center address. Last month, Brightflash filed a change of attorney form with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office listing a David Harris also at that address, with that document signed by a manager "J. Yori". It is possible that this is Joan Yori, an executive with Stewart Management Company, a firm offering services for establishing so-called special purpose entities.
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- Legal links from Ecuador: As we noted yesterday, Apple filed for a trademark on the "Apple" name in Class 14 (jewelry and watches) in Ecuador last December, and the attorney who facilitated that application was Alejandro Ponce Martinez, a principal attorney with Quevedo & Ponce in Quito. Ponce has helped Apple with a number of other trademark applications, including recent filings for iOS 7 icons and iPad Air, and just weeks prior to the Apple jewelry filing he helped Brightflash file its application (PDF: page 164) for the "iWatch" mark.

In an initial response to Brightflash's U.S. application for the iWatch trademark, the examiner cited several prior pending applications from other firms that would potentially be confusing with Brightflash's desired usage. As a result, Brightflash late last month filed its own response requesting that its application be put on hold until the other pending applications were either granted or abandoned. Last week, the patent examiner issued a letter granting the suspension of Brightflash's application for the time being. If Brightflash is indeed Apple, the company would very likely make an effort to acquire the rights to any of the other trademarks if they are granted.

Brightflash continues to file trademark applications in other countries, including Australia and Macau. And just last month, United Kingdom and Denmark were added to the list, indicating that the firm is indeed still interested in protecting the iWatch name. As noted by French site Consomac [Google Translate], Brightflash is pursuing registration of the iWatch name in at least four dozen countries around the world.

Brightflash is also attempting to trademark the "Brightflash" name itself in a number of countries, and it is unclear whether this is simply part of the process of pursuing the iWatch mark or if there is an additional feature or product that could use the Brightflash name.

In the background of any efforts by Brightflash or Apple to secure a U.S. trademark on the iWatch name is a years-long battle between Swiss watchmaker Swatch and New York firm M.Z. Berger. MZB applied for a U.S. trademark on the iWatch name back in July 2007 and the application was nearly approved before Swatch opposed the mark on two fronts: potential confusion with the Swatch brand and a lack of intent by MZB to actually use the iWatch name.

An appeals board has ruled that MZB should not be awarded the trademark on the basis that there is no evidence of MZB's intent to use the iWatch name at the time of filing, although Swatch's claim of potential confusion was not found to be warranted. Both parties appealed the respective decisions against them late last year, and the case remains unresolved.

Apple's potential use of Brightflash as a shell company to hide its efforts to protect intellectual property would certainly not be the first time the company has engaged in such tactics. Last November, the company created an entity by the name of CarPlay Enterprises to file a U.S. trademark application on the term "CarPlay", which last month became the new name for the previously named iOS in the Car feature in iOS 7.1.

In an earlier example leading up to the launch of the iPad, Apple used a shell company by the name of Slate Computing to protect "iSlate" and "MagicSlate" while using a separate firm under the name IP Application Development to secure the "iPad" name.


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Apple Reportedly Delaying Launch of 5.5-Inch ‘iPhone Air’ Due to Battery Issues

According to Taiwan's Industrial and Commercial Times [Google Translate, via G for Games] Apple's larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 has been delayed and will launch in 2015. The report notes that the company is struggling with finding a sufficient battery that measures 2 mm or less to fit in the device's "very thin" profile.

iphone6
Renderings of iPhone 6 (4.7'') and iPhone 6 (5.7'') based on leaked schematics

The report also notes that Apple suppliers are referring to the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 as the "iPhone Air", which has not been finalized as an official name for the device. If the claims are true, however, an iPhone Air would join Apple's MacBook Air and recently released iPad Air in carrying a similar name and delivering a product with a slim chassis.

Past reports have indicated that Apple's 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will launch first this fall, and have shared similar details about the 5.5-inch version being delayed due to production issues. A report from Reuters last month noted that Apple was having issues with in-cell production technology in the 5.5-inch version's display, with Japan Display, LG Display, and Sharp set to produce screens for the device.

In addition to a larger screen and thinner design, Apple's next-generation iPhone is expected to include a new A8 processor, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and an upgraded camera featuring optical image stabilization. Apple is also said to be negotiating with carriers to increase the price of the iPhone 6 by $100.


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Apple Takes Jab at Samsung in Full Page Earth Day Newspaper Ad

Apple is honoring Earth Day in a new ad found on newspapers across the UK that appears to also include a jab at rival Samsung, reports CNET.

The ad, which comes with a headline stating "There are some ideas we want everyone to copy," includes two paragraphs that allude to the company's ongoing patent trial with Samsung. Apple notes that there is "one area" where the company "encourages others" to imitate, calling for initiatives that are similar to its recent environmental efforts.

apple_earth_day_ad
There's one area where we actually encourage others to imitate us. Because when everyone makes the environment a priority, we all benefit. We'd be more than happy to see every data centre fuelled by 100% renewable energy sources. And we eagerly await the day when every product is made without the harmful toxins we have removed from ours.

Of course we know we can continue to do better. We've set some pretty ambitious goals for reducing our impact on climate change, making our products with greener materials and conserving our planet's limited resources. So the next time we come across a great idea that can help leave the world better than we found it, we look forward to sharing it.
Apple and Samsung are currently in their second legal battle over accusations of patent infringement, with the former requesting $2 billion in damages from the latter. In its defense, Samsung stated that it only owes Apple $40 million, as the trial is expected to conclude and head into jury deliberations sometime this week.

The ad is one part of Apple's "Better" environmental campaign launched yesterday ahead of today's Earth Day event, which included a video about the ecological efforts of its Apple Campus 2 project and the expansion of its recycling program to include all products at its stores. Apple will be updating its store logos with green leaf accents and encouraging its employees to wear commemorative green shirts, as an event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California is also planned.

Update: The newspaper ad is also appearing in Australia, and presumably other countries as well.


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Apple Now Accepting All Products for Recycling at Retail Stores

apple_green_logosApple will now begin accepting old products for recycling at all of its retail stores worldwide, reports The Associated Press. While the company has had a recycling program for quite some time, the terms for trading in a product would vary by device category.

For instance, those looking to trade in a Mac or iPad for recycling were limited to filling out an online form and shipping it with a prepaid label, while those looking to drop off an iPhone or iPod could bring it into an Apple Retail Store or ship it to a recycling center.

Now, customers are welcome to bring in all products to any of its retail locations, where the company will recycle them for free. While all devices will be accepted for recycling at no charge, those who bring in products that are in fair condition will also receive a store gift card.

Apple made changes to its recycling program in 2011, expanding the program to include more devices and older computers. Last year, Apple also introduced an iPhone trade-in program that allowed customers to trade in a device for a gift card that could be used toward the purchase of a new iPhone, which has since expanded to multiple countries.

The move comes as Apple launched its "Better" environmental campaign yesterday ahead of Earth Day, which included a video detailing the environmental efforts of its Apple Campus 2 project. Apple will celebrate Earth Day at its retail locations around the world by giving its logos green leaves and having its employees wear special green shirts. The company will also reportedly hold an event at its main campus in Cupertino, California.



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Apple Retail Store Logos Gain Green Leaves in Honor of Earth Day

In celebration of Earth Day, which takes place on April 22, Apple has started updating the logos of some of its retail stores with green leaf accents, a departure from the standard white logo.

For example, Apple's massive Nanjing East retail store in Shanghai has been updated with the green Earth Day logo, as it is just after 8AM on April 22 in China.

greenapplelogo
Image courtesy of Instagram user znnina

As noted last week by 9to5Mac, Apple is planning to celebrate Earth Day at multiple retail locations around the world, changing its logo and encouraging employees to wear special green shirts. The company is also planning to hold a special event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Earlier today, Apple launched its "Better" environmental campaign, highlighting its efforts to lower its carbon footprint. Included in the campaign was a video detailing the construction of Apple Campus 2, which will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources.

(Thanks, Nina!)


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