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Apple loses bid for music app icon trademark

Apple's efforts to trademark an icon for its iOS music player in the U.S. have been denied due to design from a company that no longer exists.
As part of a decision handed down by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board last week, the group found Apple's icon a bit too similar to one issued to iLike in 2008, upholding an initial finding from a trademark examiner.
iLike, of course, no longer exists. The company was gobbled up by MySpace in late 2009 and was eventually absorbed into the company's own music product.
"In comparing the marks within the above-noted legal parameters, the marks at issue are similar because they comprise a double musical note in an orange rectangle," the decision, picked up by GigaOm today, reads.
The group adds that the similarities "outweigh any specific differences" when the two icons are put side-by-side:
Apple's icon (left) next to iLike's (right).
Apple's icon (left) next to iLike's (right).
(Credit: USPTO)
Apple applied for the trademarked icon in April 2010, right around the time it began using it as the music player icon on the iPod Touch. The company would later bring it over to the iPhone and iPad as part of iOS 5.
The decision can be appealed by Apple, which spent a considerable part of last month arguing the merits of its own icon designs and the very minute similarities and details with icons created by Samsung for use in its smartphones and tablets. That spat dealt with the look and feel of the devices in conjunction with various other patent and antitrust claims.

Facebook releases SDK 3.1 for iOS with iOS 6 integration

We have been following Facebook’s improvements to its SDK for iOS in recent months. In July, Facebook released a beta featuring iOS 6 Facebook integration and a new Dev Center for iOS developers. It has maintained that beta alongside version 3.0 of its SDK up until today with the official release of Facebook SDK 3.1 for iOS. Facebook officially announced the release of the SDK, which features new tools for mobile app developers interested in taking advantage of Facebook’s native integration with iOS 6 in their apps, on its Developer Blog earlier today.
Developers can download Facebook SDK 3.1 for iOS here.
Facebook’s Eddie O’Neil walked through some of the new features of the SDK, including: Native Facebook Login, native Facebook share sheets, and ready-to-use UI controls:

Native, ready-to-use UI controls: The SDK includes several pre-built user interface controls:
-Friend Picker to help apps easily pick friends. Example: use a friend picker to choose friends to tag in an Open Graph action.
-Places Picker so apps can easily integrate with Facebook places. Example: use this picker to let users include a place with their posts.
-Profile Picture control so your app can easily show the profile picture of a user, their friends, places, or other kinds of Facebook objects.
-Login controls for easily building Login and Logout experiences.
Facebook Login support across iOS versions: Lets your app work seamlessly on all iOS versions 4.0+ and integrates easily with the native login support in iOS 6.
Easy session management: Introduces the FBSession API that manages, stores, and refreshes user tokens. You can also override default behaviors to build advanced features. It uses the modern Objective-C “block” metaphor to notify your app of login, logout and other session state changes, and it instantly integrates with iOS 6.
Improved API support: Minimizes the code you need to call Facebook Graph, FQL, and other APIs. It natively supports batched API requests to significantly improve performance for API calls, which translate into faster, better user experiences.
The SDK also includes a beta of Facebook’s Ad analytics tool allowing app developers to get statistics related to how effective their ads are:
Ad analytics (Beta): Lets you record analytics to give you information about the effectiveness of your ads and understand how people use your app. Learn more about the mobile ads product.

Apple Reportedly Had Over a Year Left on Maps Contract with Google

Amid widespread complaints over Apple's new iOS 6 Maps app, which replaced the Google-powered application that had shipped on iOS devices since the iPhone debuted in 2007, some observers have wondered how much of the shift was due to Apple's desire to reduce its reliance upon on Google and how much might be due to other factors.

In particular, there has been some speculation that demands by Google could also have played a role in Apple's decision, with the suggestion being that Apple may have been forced to roll out its own mapping solution a bit sooner than it had planned for if its contract with Google had been running out.

The Verge now reports that such speculation is unfounded, with Apple and Google having had over a year left on their contract for Google's Maps app. Consequently, Apple could presumably have continued using Google's app in iOS 6 as it worked to improve its own mapping product for a launch with iOS 7 next year.
For its part, Apple apparently felt that the older Google Maps-powered Maps in iOS were falling behind Android — particularly since they didn't have access to turn-by-turn navigation, which Google has shipped on Android phones for several years. The Wall Street Journal reported in June that Google also wanted more prominent branding and the ability to add features like Latitude, and executives at the search giant were unhappy with Apple's renewal terms. But the existing deal between the two companies was still valid and didn't have any additional requirements, according to our sources — Apple decided to simply end it and ship the new maps with turn-by-turn.
Apple's decision apparently caught Google off-guard, as Google is reportedly still several months away from having a standalone maps app ready for submission to the App Store.

Missing directions: Will Apple's old maps app live on forever?

(Credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET, PhotoToaster)
For those who haven't yet upgraded to Apple's iOS 6, or who can't upgrade because they're using an older device, there's an air of uncertainty about just how long they'll get to be able to use one of its most useful features.
That feature is maps, something that used to be powered by Google in iOS versions 1 to 5, but which now uses data from Apple in iOS 6.
Love it or hate it, Apple Maps are here to stay. But can you say the same about the old version?
Neither company is willing to say. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the terms or expiration of the deal between it and Google. Google did not respond to a request for comment.
Still, there's reason for users to believe that Google will continue serving the iOS 5 version of maps for the foreseeable future.
"I would be surprised if they have the contractual right to stop," said Scott Rafer, CEO of mapping company Lumatic.
Lumatic is the maker of City Maps, a provider of free transit directions inside the new Apple Maps app. It licenses data from Nokia and OpenStreetMap.
"Normally the ways those contracts are written are, hey, this covers support of new versions of the software through X date," Rafer said, adding that he had not seen the Apple-Google contract.
Assuming that's the case here, iOS 5 users should be able to rest easy about the mapping functionality on their older devices.
Perhaps backing that up is the fact that Google says it will keep supporting the old version of YouTube, another piece of Google software removed in iOS 6. The company confirmed to CNET that it would continue serving videos inside the app indefinitely. Meanwhile, it has built its own standalone app for iOS 6 users, which is available on the App Store.
At its annual developers conference in June, Apple touted its new maps app as one of the major features of iOS 6 -- and a big step up from Google's offering. But now that they have it in hand, many consumers beg to differ. While impressive in places, critics have found the application less accurate and complete compared with Google's offering.
Still, Apple has published data showing that users are upgrading to its latest software at a very speedy clip. According to metrics released by the company yesterday, 100 million of Apple's 400 million iOS users have upgraded to iOS 6. The software, which was released as a free update last Wednesday, can be installed on the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, along with the second- and third-generation iPads, and fourth-generation iPod Touch. That keeps those with older devices -- a number Apple does not share -- on older versions of the software.
One prospect that remains for those who have upgraded is Google delivering its own Maps app. So far the company has kept an almost Apple-like veil of secrecy around the project, saying only that its objective was to make the software "available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system."

DisplayMate Rates iPhone 5 Screen as "Best Smartphone Display" They've Seen

DisplayMate posts an extensive analysis of the new iPhone 5 screen and also provides detailed comparisons against the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S III.

They conclude that the iPhone 5 represents the best Smartphone screen they've tested.
Based on our extensive Lab measurements the iPhone 5 has a true state-of-the-art accurate display – it’s not perfect and there is plenty of room for improvements (and competitors) but it is the best Smartphone display we have seen to date based on extensive Lab measurements and viewing tests.
In particular, they note that the iPhone 5 has much lower screen reflections, a much higher image contrast and screen readability in high ambient lighting and notably improved color accuracy and picture quality.

Here is their Overall Assessments chart comparing the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and Samsung Galaxy SIII. They conclude the iPhone 5 significantly outperforms the other two units:

The remainder of their charts detail differences in Reflections, Brightness and Contrast, Color and Intensities, Viewing Angles, Power Consumption and Battery Impact.

Google Has Not Yet Submitted a Google Maps App to Apple [Update]

Reuters reports (via TheNextWeb) that Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt has denied claims that the company has already submitted a Google Maps application to Apple's App Store.
Google Inc. has not submitted a new Google Maps application to Apple Inc after the iPhone maker dropped the use of it in launching its newest device, the head of the world's top search engine provider said on Tuesday.
The rumor emerged last week shortly after Apple launched iOS 6. In iOS 6, Apple replaced the Google-based Maps on iOS devices with the company's own solution. Apple's Maps have since drawn criticism for areas of poor coverage.

Schmidt told reporters, "We have not done anything yet" and stated that they've been talking to Apple for a long time and talk to them every day.

Update (Sept 25, 1:34am PT): Bloomberg has a slightly different interpretation of Schmidt's comments. Schmidt said that it was up to Apple to approve the app, though they claim that Schmidt declined to say if Google Maps had been submitted.
“We haven’t done anything yet with Google Maps,” Schmidt told reporters in Tokyo today. Apple would “have to approve it. It’s their choice,” Schmidt said, declining to say if the Mountain View, California-based company submitted an application to Apple for sale through its App Store.