The week of leaks (Apple Talk Weekly)

This week was marked by news of three high-profile bits of Apple property making it out into the wild: a phone prototype, a notebook that never saw the light of day, and a hard drive.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
5 min read
Cava22, in San Francisco's Mission District, where another unreleased iPhone apparently went missing last month. James Martin/CNET

This week was marked with a trio of noteworthy Apple leaks, something unusual for the company which is well-known for being highly secretive.

The first is our story of an Apple employee once again being separated from a prototype phone at a bar. CNET was first to report the incident and details about the attempted recovery effort that took place in July.

Second, there was the MacBook 3G prototype which briefly went up for sale on eBay last month. CNET got in touch with the owner, who told us Apple approached him about getting the machine back, which confirmed that it wasn't a counterfeit or homemade creation. The device sported an unusual antenna and SIM card slot that Apple has never shipped in one of its notebooks.

And finally, there's the man who picked up a Mac he had repaired at an Apple store in Connecticut and got back more than he bargained for. Instead of handing him a spare hard drive with a backup of his machine, a store employee reportedly gave the man a backup of the store's internal server. The man shopped it to at least one news outlet, which posted some of the photos depicting internal store layouts and sales documents that were supposedly stored on the drive.

For the rest of this week's news and rumors, read on.

News of the week

iPhone prototype lost, again
This week CNET reported exclusively that Apple was on the lookout for a missing device in July, and had visited a San Francisco house along with the San Francisco police to find it. Later in the week SF Weekly interviewed the individual whose home was searched, who said a known member of Apple's security team had left his number in case the device was found. The San Francisco police department then confirmed a search had taken place.

MacBook 3G prototype recovered by Apple
After buying a MacBook for parts, a North Carolina man who specializes in fixing and re-selling computers found a machine that was never supposed to leave Apple's labs: a MacBook Pro with a built-in 3G antenna. This week CNET learned Apple was sending out a security detail to come pick it up, and posted exclusive details on the machine's back story, which includes a trip to small claims court, a near appearance on a syndicated court TV show, and a near sale on eBay that could have brought the man $70,000 for his find.

3G-equipped MacBook prototype on eBay (photos)

See all photos

Lost iPhone 4 suspects plead not guilty
At an arraignment this week, two suspects pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor theft charges in the case involving the sale of the iPhone 4 prototype to gadget blog Gizmodo.

Apple's Eddy Cue promoted to senior vice president
Longtime Apple veteran Eddy Cue was promoted to senior vice president of Internet software and services this week. Cue's been with Apple for 22 years and will now oversee the company's iTunes Store, iCloud, iAd, and the iBookstore platform, reporting directly to newly appointed Apple CEO Tim Cook. As part of the promotion, Cue was given a bonus of 100,000 shares of restricted company stock worth $37.4 million at this week's closing price (Macrumors spotted the SEC filing on the bonus).

Apple gives developers iTunes Match
Developers got their hands on iTunes Match this week, Apple's upcoming service that will scan your music library for ripped tracks, and replace them with high-quality, DRM-free tracks from the iTunes Music Store. The day after opening it up to developers, Apple shut the doors, saying it would be allowing new sign-ups over time.

iOS 5 beta 7 seeded to developers
Apple gave developers yet another beta of iOS 5 this week, the seventh so far. A final version of the software is going out to customers in the fall. This latest release didn't add any new bells and whistles, just bug fixes.

Apple sells off remaining inventory of Final Cut Studio
In an odd twist, Macrumors this week discovered Apple was once again selling retired software Final Cut Studio 3. Turns out Apple is just selling off remaining stock to people who still might need it, and only through its phone sales department. Apple replaced that software bundle with Final Cut Pro X in June.

Rumors of the week

Snow Leopard getting iCloud support?
A screenshot posted this week by MacRumors pointed toward a positive prospect for Snow Leopard users: getting iCloud features without upgrading to Lion. A screenshot depicts a note for a user of a previous version of Mac OS X being told their recently upgraded iCloud account would not work, while also noting that iCloud requires a computer running at least Mac OS X 10.6.9--a build of the previous Mac OS X iteration that has not been announced.

Apple cooking up remote diagnostic tool for iOS devices
French Mac news site Hardmac this week said that Apple has begun rolling out an internal diagnostic tool that can scan your iPhone and its usage logs to scope out problems ahead of a user having to go in to have it looked at by a repair technician. The tool could present an important addition to Apple's support strategy, keeping people from crowding support spots in its retail stores by getting a fix at home.

Patent of the week

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

A patent application filed in February 2010 and unearthed this week by patent-tracking blog Patently Apple covers a system for getting accessories to work with Apple's accessibility framework. The patent details how Apple could link up touch-screen devices to accessories that would let users control the touch-screen gadgets remotely.

Apple describes the background of the patent:

"Touch screen devices are increasing in popularity. A user generally provides input to a touch screen device using touch input (e.g., touching and/or gesturing at appropriate places on the touch screen). For a user to interact with a touch screen device using touch input, the user must generally be physically present at the device in order to touch the screen. The user must also be capable of providing touch input and capable of viewing the screen of the device or otherwise knowing where input is needed. "

The answer is the system detailed in the patent, which promises to let users interact with a touch-screen device using an attached accessory, as well as provide a standardized way to hook up with such accessories.

That's of special interest given longtime rumors of running iOS applications on TV sets, something Apple TV was rumored to be getting in a future update. The technology also has the potential to open up iOS devices to users with accessibility needs.

Apple Talk Weekly is a roundup of some of the week's top Apple-related news and rumors, along with answers to your questions. If you have something Apple-related you want answered in next week's edition, drop me a line using the e-mail link below this post.