Apple Loop: Smartphone Patents, Freemium Isn't Free, The Challenge Of The Mi Pad, And In-App Promo Codes For iOS

May 17 2014, 6:04pm CDT | by

Taking a look at the world of Apple, as Google and Apple come to a patent agreement, Italy is looking closely at freemium apps, Xiamoi are ready to challenge the iPad, in-app promo codes, improving the podcasting offering, Dr Dre and Apple’s plans for Beats, and the EFF praise Apple. Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few highlights of another busy week for the Cupertino based company.

All These Patents Can Now Be Used

Just as Motorola Mobility gets ready to fly the nest and leave Mountain View for Lenovo, Google and Apple have agreed to settle their litigation over a number of patents. The deal falls short of cross-licencing between the portfolios of the two companies. I would assume that the deal will apply to Google’s Nexus devices, and likely apply to Lenovo’s stewardship of Motoroloa, but it won’t apply to other manufacturers such as Samsung or HTC.

The Free In Freemium Means It Costs Something

While it’s more a wording and language issue than a deliberate attempt to deceive, Italy’s Antitrust and Competition Authority is looking at the issue of freemium apps. Specifically the idea that these titles are offered as free downloads, but many require a purchase in the app or game to offer full functionality. I’m pretty sure everyone gets the business model in the iTunes App Store, but this is one worth watching for over the next weeks and months.

A Challenger From The East

Apple’s iPad already dominates the tablet usage shares, but another competitor is approaching. Chinese manufacturer Xiamoi will be launching a seven inch tablet based on Android. The MiPad sports 2GB of RAM, 16 GB or 64 GB of storage, and a retina display matching screen at 2048×1536 pixels in the 7.9 inch screened tablet. The price is expected to be 1499 yuan, around $240, and release dates and territories are to follow.

Do You Want Digital Fries With That?

Developers who do work in the freemium space are watching Apple closely to see when promo codes will work with in-app purchases. Jeff Scott at 148 Apps has spotted an in-app promo code for EA’s Real Racing 3. Previously promo codes were set up to allow an app to be downloaded for testing or as a genuine promotion. If in-app promo codes are set to be available to all, expect some smart marketing to follow.

Reports Of Podcasting’s Death Are Still Exaggerated

Apple’s update of the iOS Podcasts app (to version 2.1) brings in a number of changes to the app which feels rather forgotten and isolated in the media empire of iTunes. Providing a new ‘unplayed’ tab to help listeners get to the newest media as quickly as possible, and there are better management options through the feeds tab.

The app also supports CarPlay and Siri is also integrated so you can shout ‘play podcasts’ as you drive down the motorway to get the latest episode of your favorite show.

“They Need To Update The Forbes List…” says Dr Dre

Questions about strategy are still being asked over Apple’s proposed purchase of Beats, inc. The BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones has been thinking about that question, and his conclusion has merit:

But Beats is surely most valuable as a brand – and many dedicated audiophiles will tell you that behind that “b” logo, the quality of its headphones leaves much to be desired. So it would be bizarre to spend $3bn only to plaster an Apple symbol over the headphones.

But it probably isn’t the headphones or the brand that are the main attraction to Apple – it is the need to bolster its music offering. Beats Music, launched in the US earlier this year, is a streaming service which looks as though it might pose the first serious threat to Spotify./>/>

Apple Has Your Back. Fact.

Finally the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s latest “Who Has Your Back” report rates Apple very highly for data privacy and protection against government requests. With six stars and the highest possible rating, Tim Cook’s company, the EFF are pleased with what they see. “Apple’s rating is particularly striking because it had lagged behind industry competitors in prior years, earning just one star in 2011, 2012, and 2013,” they noted. “Apple shows remarkable improvement in its commitments to transparency and privacy.”

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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