Apple has always prided itself on its uniqueness. Usually this has related to its products' design and software features, but this week the company's unique nature was shown by its legal department, which mounted fresh legal action claiming that Samsung owes it $40 for every Galaxy handset it sells.
The iPhone maker made the claim during a hearing at the US District Court, Northern District of California. The case claims recent Samsung smartphones, such as the Galaxy S3, infringe on five critical patents owned by Apple and is due to be heard on 31 March.
The patents relate to Samsung phones' data tapping, unified search, asynchronous data synchronisation, slide-to-unlock feature and auto-complete technologies. As a side note, during a previous case with Motorola, Apple claimed one of the same patents involved in its new Samsung offensive was worth just 60 cents per phone.
The move is atypical to most technology companies, which are currently moving to diffuse the ongoing, never-ending cycle of patent claims raging between them.
Samsung has already signed licensing deals with Google, Cisco and IBM, promising to play nice with them when it comes to patents. Even HTC and Nokia have joined the game, signing a cross-patent licence agreement in February.
V3 welcomed the deals, viewing them as a sign that smartphone makers were finally going to stop quibbling about who copied who, and re-focus on creating better phones.
But our hopes were short lived, as Apple's move against Samsung shows that even though it risks painting itself as the villain, it has no intention of making peace with its competitors.
This is particularly true when you consider Apple's past successes in the courtroom. Before its latest claim, the court ruled that Samsung owes $930m in damages to Apple, which isn't small change by any means.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
A time capsule that included a computer mouse owned by the late Steve Jobs has been unearthed in California.
The capsule was buried in 1983 at the International Design Conference. It was filled with numerous items from the era, such as a Vogue magazine and a Rubik’s Cube. However, it was always known as the Steve Jobs’ Capsule because of the inclusion of his mouse that was used on his first Lisa computer.
The appearance by Jobs at the conference is regarded as a key moment in Apple's, and that of the wider industry's history, as he made several predictions there that came true.
“We will find a way to put (a computer) in a shoebox and sell it for $2,500, and finally, we’ll find a way to put it in a book," he said.
The capsule was supposed to have been dug up in 2000, but the coordinates of its location were lost when the conference went out of business. There it stayed until a TV show called Diggers got in on the act.
In a blog post promoting the find, the show explains that co-leads KG and Ringy had tracked down members of the capsule committee to discover the item's whereabouts.
As luck would have it the work proved successful and like modern-day pirates they uncovered the buried treasure. Like any good American should, the team whoop and holler with great excitement when they find the item, which you can see on 25 February, if you live in the US.
By V3's Dan Worth, who always has his head in the ground
Thirty years ago the world watched with wonder as an athletic woman ran into a dusty room of dull and suited men before hurling a hammer through the screen they were all dutifully watching. It marked the arrival of the first Apple Macintosh computer and things were never the same again.
Since then Apple's personal computer line has been one of the most successful and desirable product lines to have existed in the computer era. Even now with sleek ultrabooks and all manner of tablets, not least Apple's own iPad range, on the market, the devices command respect and bank account-draining prices to boot.
While Microsoft may have built its dominance on the Windows platform by letting any manufacturer use its operating system, Apple, under the vision of Steve Jobs, put everything together itself to keep the harmony of hardware and software in one place.
Ever since 1984 this has remained Apple's hallmark of success as users knew they were getting high-quality performance and beautiful design in one package.
The Macintosh – later the Mac, which is a lot snappier – was not just a thing of beauty, it was a trendsetter. It's easy to take the modern user interface we use for granted, but it was Apple that brought such a control method to the masses.
While user interface controls may not have changed much, the design of the Apple Mac has gone through several variations. From its original boxy, basic design, to colourful side panels, and the swivelling 'sunflower', Apple's design teams have never shied away from trying to do something different with Macs.
This has recently been taken to extremes with the latest Mac Pro about as far removed from the original concept of the Macintosh as possible.
Apple itself has put together a little historical retrospective on the Macintosh, with a few musicians, teachers and other arty types giving glowing endorsements to the devices. While those less fond of Apple may find it all a bit self-indulgent, few would deny the impact the device has had on the world.
By V3's Dan Worth, who owns three macs, all raincoats
As we approach the end of the year Google has once against listed its annual zeitgeist list of the most searched terms over the past 12 months to show what most people around the world wanted to know during the year.
Despite only passing on a few weeks ago, the topic that has dominated the list is the death of Nelson Mandela, as those around the world searched for more information on the great leader. This was just ahead of the death of Paul Walker, the star of the Fast and Furious franchise of movies.
Elsewhere, though, technology was well represented on the list, with searches for the iPhone 5S and the Samsung Galaxy S4 both appearing, with Apple scoring more hits than Samsung, as it chalks up another, admittedly minor, victory over its nemesis.
The PlayStation 4 (PS4) also featured, unlike the Xbox One, as Microsoft’s console fails to quite match Sony for hype and interest in the games market.
The top 10 list is below:
1. Nelson Mandela
2. Paul Walker
3. iPhone 5S
4. Cory Monteith
5. Harlem Shake
6. Boston Marathon
7. Royal Baby
8. Samsung Galaxy S4
10. North Korea
Google has also made an interactive globe that shows the most popular search terms from different locations around the word, with London showing a weird demand for sport with both BBC Sport and BBC Football both scoring highly. Other UK cities such as Manchester and Bristol also show an enjoyment for sports information.
By V3's Dan Worth, who searches high and low
The executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, has penned a length post telling mobile users how they can switch from iPhone to Android devices.
Fresh from offering tips on using cloud computing, Schmidt has now turned his attention to the mobile market, using his page on Google+ to show users how easy it is to move to Android, and all it can offer.
“Like the people who moved from PCs to Macs and never switched back, you will switch from iPhone to Android and never switch back, as everything will be in the cloud, backed up, and there are so many choices for you,” he wrote.
"The latest high-end phones from Samsung (Galaxy S4), Motorola and the Nexus 5 have better screens, are faster, and have a much more intuitive interface."
What follows is a lengthy, complicated and caveat-heavy list of the steps you’ll need to take for this switch to Android, which runs to just over 600 words. This includes how to get Gmail on your phone, back up photos and move your music to your new device.
While Schmidt attempts to paint the transition as painless – as anyone who has ever moved phone, even within the same ecosystem, will know – such a task is never easy, and is always fraught with frustrations.
This isn't an issue with Android, or Apple, or anyone else, it just seems that anything that requires moving data is complex and time-consuming. Still, at least industry leaders such as Schmidt are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to try and help the average user, which is nice.
By V3's Dan Worth, who's happy with his iPhone
Can anyone make a decent operating system? That’s the question tech lovers around the world appear to be asking as the biggest vendors appear unable to just make a decent platform that's easy to use and nice to look at.
Microsoft – the daddy of the operating system world – has been flailing for a while now to try and entice people to Windows 8. But so far it is failing. While Windows 8.1 is improving some areas, it is unlikely to prove a panacea for all its ills.
In fact, Microsoft could be said to have peaked as far back as 2001 when its beloved XP platform hit the market. Even now, 12 years later, there are those who see no reason to upgrade, even if support is set to end in six months.
Meanwhile Apple, the darling of the tech world, is facing unprecedented levels of criticism for numerous issues that users of its new iOS 7 operating system have found with the platform.
These range from functionality to design and many V3 readers have implored others not to move to the new platform if they haven't done so already. Such criticism of Apple, especially on a design and functionality level, would have been unthinkable a year or so ago.
So what is going on? In some ways it appears firms are trying to be too clever, to be too innovative. At the end of a day an operating system should be the base layer for everything else. It should be easy to use, simple to understand and allow you to run other applications over the top.
With too much focus now given to all-singing systems that can do everything and out-innovate rivals it almost seems as if the firms are forgetting to do any user feedback to find out if stuff just works.
One good example was raised by a V3 reader who noticed this bizarre iOS 7 issue. The phone automatically dims its display brightness when you open the new control panel menu. This means, though, if you’re trying to adjust screen brightness, you can’t accurately gauge the brightness of the screen. It’s almost comic in its failure to work at the most basic level.
Similarly, while one can understand Microsoft may have thought the bold and radical change of Windows 8 may have made them seem, well, bold and radical, someone really should have stepped in and said it was too much.
People never like change, even when it's good for them, so for Microsoft to develop Windows 8 was always going to prove an incredibly disruptive situation. And while the tech world loves the term disrupt for conjuring up the feeling they're changing the world, for most people disruption is a negative that can be done without.
The firm was probably so blinded by the need to innovate and impress that it overlooked the basic notion of KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. A motto that works well in a surprisingly large number of instances. Let's hope Apple has taken it on board for its Mac OS X Mavericks update, due to be unveiled next week.
By V3's Dan Worth, who loves a good operating system
Saturday marked two years since the tech industry came together to mourn the passing of Steve Jobs after his long-running battle with cancer.
His legacy has, if anything, only grown since, with films made to celebrate his life and every decision made at Apple in the last two years scrutinised with the question: “What would Steve have done?”.
Jobs still does – and probably always will – loom in the background of Apple, as shown by a message on Twitter from chief executive Tim Cook posted on the weekend.
Second anniversary of Steve's death. Going on a long hike today and reflecting on his friendship and all the dents he made in the universe.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) October 5, 2013
Cook also sent an email to staff urging them to remember the legacy of Jobs and reflect on what his work meant to them, and the company as a whole.
"Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of Steve’s death. I hope everyone will reflect on what he meant to all of us and to the world. Steve was an amazing human being and left the world a better place. I think of him often and find enormous strength in memories of his friendship, vision and leadership," he wrote.
"He left behind a company that only he could have built and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. We will continue to honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to the work he loved so much. There is no higher tribute to his memory. I know that he would be proud of all of you."
However, despite this remembrance and reverence for Jobs, there has been a clear move over the last two years by the firm, led by Cook, to move on and break old directives set by Jobs.
Nowhere is this more obvious than screen size. Jobs was always adamant that a 3.5in screen was more than enough for any smartphone, ignoring the craze for larger screens led by a raft of Android phones.
But since then Apple has brought out a trio of 4in devices – the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S – which everyone would now agree have improved the iPhone range.
In tablets, too, Jobs once decried the notion of a 7in iPad. “Seven-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. Seven-inch tablets are dead on arrival,” he said.
Now the iPad Mini – just sneaking in at 7.9in – has arrived on the market and is a revelation, making the larger iPad devices look clunky and unwieldy.
In many ways Apple had to make these moves, and one could quite easily imagine Jobs applying his ‘Reality distortion field (RDF)‘ to his former statements as he unveiled the same devices anyway to ensure the firm remained at the top of the market.
Nevertheless, it is now an Apple that has changed since Jobs, with new designs and ideas coming to the fore. This can also be seen in the iOS 7 operating system, which, under the leadership of Sir Jony Ive, represents a new chapter in Apple's history in which Jobs has had no direct influence.
Elsewhere, the firm also appears ever so slightly mellower, with Cook able to swallow his pride and apologise for mistakes – such as the Apple Maps launch – in a way that Jobs seemed incapable of doing, as the 'antennagate' saga proved.
Despite these changes, Apple's success, as witnessed by the huge sales of the iPhone 5S, continues thanks to the decisions set down and seen through by Jobs that have seen tablets and smartphones radically alter both the business and consumer landscapes.
Among business users, the closest you can get to a discussion about the eco-friendliness of a smartphone is battery life. And even then, it's a purely pragmatic discussion that amounts to: "Will this phone make it through the day?"
Unlike appliances such as dishwashers and fridges, you won't normally come across clear eco-friendly ratings denoting how much energy a smartphone uses. What's more, there's been plenty of talk in the past about the materials used in smartphones: rare metals and harmful chemicals tend to make the smartphone industry a rather environmentally unfriendly business.
Aside from power consumption, conflict minerals are particularly problematic. As it stands, almost every tech company you can name produces hardware that contains minerals taken from regions of conflict in the Congo. While some firms are taking steps towards reducing this, the issue is still rife, and it's not as simple as just finding an alternative source.
It's not an issue that's regularly discussed by the general public, mostly because they probably aren't aware of the issues as there is no easy way to find out how eco-friendly your device is.
The lack of clarity for consumers should soon change, however. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an offshoot of the UN, is working alongside a group of smartphone makers including Apple, Samsung and Nokia to create a universally recognised rating system for smartphones. But who will benefit?
Bettina Tratz-Ryan, a Gartner research vice president, told V3 it isn't just a marketing exercise for the handset makers and mobile networks involved. "Initially, it will be more important for the manufacturers and the mobile service providers who want to show in their sustainability and environmental management reports that they look for eco standards and environmentally green technology."
She added that it will also help the bottom line, with better-designed phones reducing the costs of refurbishment and repairs.
It's interesting to note that Apple is involved with the scheme. The Cupertino firm always seems to do their own thing, ignoring the unofficial rule that smartphones should all make use of a standard micro-USB port to save on the disposal of thousands of tonnes of useless chargers, and instead choosing to adopt yet another proprietary connector for their most recent generations of iPads and iPhones.
Last year, Apple chose to opt out of EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) in order to take its own direction with its manufacturing methods only to opt back in again two days later. But nonetheless, here they are, seemingly taking an active part in the development of this new, customer-facing environmental scheme and working alongside other manufacturers.
Tratz-Ryan said the new scheme will take some time to filter down to consumers, especially as it may see the spread of smart technologies, which could tell devices when to turn off automatically, among other things. She likened this to technology that switches off the engines of some vehicles when they are stationary.
"Many drivers of new cars with automatic turn off during wait time at traffic lights were uncomfortable at first, but now this is a normality. We will see the same thing with eco-certified technology. The positioning will come through social media, portals, service domains as well as conventional marketing material."
It'll be very interesting to not only see what form this new scheme takes, but how manufacturers respond.
By V3's Michael Passingham, who wants a green iPhone 5C