Apple appears to have acquired London-based big data analytics firm Acunu, which previously marketed an eponymous real-time analytics platform that boasted high-velocity ingests and compatibility with Cassandra databases.
A preponderance of evidence suggests Apple performed an "acqui-hire" of key Acunu employees in late 2013, though an exact timeline is currently unknown. From the end of 2013, and moving into early 2014, at least seven software engineers, including founding CEO and CTO Tim Moreton, left Acunu and are now working for Apple in some capacity.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Moreton uprooted from the UK and is now serving as an iCloud manager in San Francisco. He left Acunu in December 2013.
Former Acunu chief product officer and head engineering Andrew Byde left the firm in January 2014 and is currently a senior software engineer working out of Apple's London offices. On his LinkedIn bio, Byde says his current position "involves "Big Data" at the largest scale — high quality reliable scalable engineering."
Other former Acunu employees now working at Apple include software engineers Richard Low, Nicolas Favre-Felix, and Sam Overton. Tellingly, Overton is continuing work with distributed systems at Apple and is involved in the "development of highly available distributed systems for structured storage." Another software engineer left Acunu for Apple in December 2013 before moving on to Google.
Grzegorz Milos left his seat as Acunu's kernel team lead in early 2013 and entered Apple in December 2014 as an iCloud engineer focusing on CloudKit technology. Another former Acunu kernel engineer just joined Apple in February as part of the iCloud team.
In addition to the mass employee migration, UK executive agency Companies House London lists Acunu as registered to 100 New Bridge Street in London, the official registered address of Apple Europe. This same address was used to register Camel Audio when Apple took control of the digital instrument effects developer in February.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bloomberg reported on the purchase earlier today.
Acunu started life in 2009 with founding talent made up of researchers and engineers from Cambridge University and Oxford University. Although Acunu's website is no longer in service, a cached snapshot from August 2014 still exists on the Web. As the firm described itself at the time:
Acunu Analytics offers low latency analytics, powering dashboards and embedded applications for infrastructure monitoring, web analytics, IoT and other high arrival rate applications. Wherever high velocity data in motion must be analyzed immediately, Acunu Analytics delivers powerful operational intelligence.
During an interview published by Planet Cassandra in 2013, Moreton revealed that Acunu worked with banks that collect financial market data to understand activity patterns in trading environments. Among the firm's duties was spotting anomalies and performing risk analysis.
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Apple's 4-inch iPhone 5s (left) and iPhone 5c were the last models to sport 4-inch displays
The latest scuttlebutt out of East Asia claims Apple has plans to release a total of three new iPhone models during its annual refresh cycle in the second half of the year, one of which will incorporate a 4-inch display.
According to hit-or-miss publication DigiTimes reports Apple's 2015 iPhone lineup will consist of the usual "S" designation, which brings evolutionary changes like processor speed bumps, alongside a brand new "C" class.
Industry sources are reportedly referring to Apple's supposed next-generation 4-inch device as the "iPhone 6C," a take on the low-end, polycarbonate-bodied iPhone 5c that debuted in 2013. As an entry-level product, the 6C is rumored to run on current generation A8 system-on-chip silicon, while the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones will run an unannounced A9 chip.
All models will get NFC, Touch ID fingerprint recognition and Gorilla Glass-covered low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) panels like those seen in the current iPhone 6 series, the report said. Apple partner suppliers Japan Display and LG will provide stock for iPhone 6, iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 6C, while Sharp is said to help out with iPhone 6S Plus.
Finally, the publication said Wistron is expected to manufacture the iPhone 6C, while Foxconn and Pegatron handle high-volume 6S assembly.
Rumors that Apple would return to the 4-inch form factor first surfaced in December, when analyst Timothy Arcuri said the device may come with purpose-built components to alleviate manufacturing costs.
Although Apple's big-screened iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were extremely successful, helping move 74.5 million iPhones over the fourth quarter of 2014 alone, some longtime users were put off by the move to larger display sizes. Even as a "budget" model, a next-generation 4-inch iPhone could satisfy customers who want the latest hardware, but not at the cost of device size.
TechCrunch is reporting that Apple recently acquired FoundationDB, a company that specializes in fast and cost-effective database software. According to FoundationDB’s website, the company’s software can perform a whopping 14.4 million random writes per second. And all this at just 1 penny per 3.6 million database writes.
While it remains to be seen just what Apple has in mind with its most recent acquisition, many believe it likely is geared towards bolstering and improving the technologies that power Apple’s key services, such as the App Store, iTunes, and iCloud.
TechCrunch further speculates that the acquisition may have something to do with Apple’s rumored TV service which will purportedly launch sometime this fall.
Of course, there is always Apple’s rumored over-the-top TV service, which some reports claim is coming our way later this year. The need to be able to serve video at scale there will likely require bolstering systems…
It’s one thing for iOS users to experience a few growing pains with a new iOS update that they download for free. The stakes are understandably much higher when consumers are paying for a cable service and expect a seamless experience all around. Assuming that Apple’s streaming TV service initiative is legit and on the company’s roadmap, they’re not going to have a few tries to get it right. Nor will they be afforded the luxury of an understanding public. To that end, applying FoundationDB’s database expertise and software into the equation is entirely plausible.
Apple Maps could benefit directly from peer-to-peer location sharing
You’re driving home late one night with your friend following. You lose him at a red light and, realizing he doesn’t have your address, need to tell him where to go.
You ask Siri to share your route with your friend, and voila, he’s able to follow your location as you drive with the Maps app.
Such is the kind of scenario that could arise in the future, thanks to a new Apple patent.
Titled “Sharing location information among devices,” the iPhone maker was awarded a patent today that details how one device could track another in real time.
The most obvious use of similar technology is evident in Waze, the Google-owned mapping app that lets you see where other Waze users are on the road as you drive.
Apple’s Find My Friends service could easily benefit from what the patent details, as users could be tracked more precisely as they move. Currently, Find My Friends can send alerts when someone leaves or arrives at a certain location. What Apple has patented would basically work like getting peer-to-peer directions with another user’s device as the destination.
The location data could be communicated over cellular, WiFi, iCloud, and even Bluetooth. Whatever device that’s being tracked could potentially provide more efficient directions than what Apple Maps would normally provide. Interestingly, Apple notes that both devices participating in the location sharing “could be carried by a human being on foot, or an animal, or a robot.”
Twitter on Monday initiated an ad engagement test through its iOS apps that will cause sponsored video ads to automatically play on select iPhone and iPad devices in the U.S.
According to a report from Ad Age, Twitter is looking to gauge whether users are more likely to watch a video ad if it queues up and plays automatically.
"We're running a small test on a few variations on the video playback experience," Twitter said.
The experiment has two embodiments in which some users will see complete videos play in a loop, while others get a looped six-second teaser clip. Both versions are muted by default until users tap on the video, which causes the ad to expand to full size with sound.
As for ad content, an unnamed source claims test videos will be selected from Twitter's Promoted Video ads like pre-roll footage from big-name advertisers, the report said. Videos posted to Twitter's six-second video blogging app Vine app will not be featured.
Twitter is reportedly looking to replicate success in advertising enjoyed by other social networks, especially Facebook, which currently logs over three billion video views per day. A large part of Facebook's results have been attributed to autoplay videos, as users are more likely to engage with content that is already playing.
Currently, Twitter's iOS apps are "click-to-play," meaning users have to interact with the ad to see the video, with each click equaling one view. Facebook, on the other hand, calculates views on a time watched basis, with users notching a view after looking at content for at least three seconds.
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