The latest edition of iPodweek, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, is coming later today. iPodweek is a weekly summary of the best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and iPod accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.IMPORTANT: Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Earthlink and others, make sure we don’t end up in your spam box. Please accept emails from iLounge.com. Thank you.
CableJive has introduced its new duaLink sync and charge splitter cable for the iPod and iPhone. The duaLink is a nine-inch cable that uses a micro-sized USB hub inside the USB connector to provide dual dock connectors for charging and/or syncing two iPods or iPhones at once, from a single USB port on a computer, auto, or home wall charger. It also features a durable black housing, heavy duty wire, and compatibility with all iPhone and iPod models except the iPod shuffle. CableJive’s duaLink sync and charge splitter cable for the iPod and iPhone is available now and sells for $26.
The BBC, via its commercial unit BBC Worldwide, is planning to turn some of its most popular shows into games for the iPhone, iPod touch, and other platforms. According to MCV, the broadcaster is in talks with both publishers and developers to turn a number of shows in games, including “Doctor Who,” “Top Gear,” “In The Night Garden,” and more. “We are open to conversations with anybody in games about all kinds of business models to see how we can extract more value,” said Neil Ross Russell, managing director of children’s and licensing with the BBC. “What we’re trying to do is build the brands here – this is not about opportunistic licensing. If we wanted to do that we would have done more with these key brands over the last few years.” As part of this new initiative, BBC Worldwide has hired former EA executive Robert Nashak as executive vice president of digital entertainment.
According to data found in AdMob’s December Mobile Metrics Report (PDF Link), iPhone OS saw strong international growth during 2009, with Apple taking its place as the leading mobile device manufacturer in Latin America, Western Europe, North America, and Oceania during Q4. Overall the worldwide share of ad requests coming from either iPhone or iPod touch units increased from 9% in Q4 2008 to 36% in Q4 2009. When considering smartphone market share only, the iPhone generated the most requests of any cell phone in the Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, and Oceania markets during Q4, with an overall worldwide share of 51%. Notably, the rival Android OS platform also saw significant growth during 2009, representing 16% of worldwide smartphone ad requests during Q4 2009, compared to just 1% in Q4 2008.
Taiwan-based Wintek, a leading supplier of touchscreen panels for a number of devices, including the iPhone, claims to have settled a dispute with striking workers that resulted in apparent chaos at one of its Chinese plants late last week. Prior reports stated that more than 2,000 workers gathered at the plant, causing damage to vehicles and factory facilities and protesting the company’s rumored decision to not pay out Lunar New Year bonuses. Despite the reported vandalism, Wintek claims that the strike was settled by promising to pay out the bonuses, without any affect on the plant’s production or capacity.
In response to reader comments, we’ve put one of the remaining Limited Edition iLounge.com Speck CandyShell cases for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS up for auction, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross Haiti Relief & Development fund. These cases sport a unique grey and orange color combination and were handed out at the iLounge booth inside the iLounge Pavilion at the 2010 CES. Only 100 were made, so if you’ve had your eye on one since spotting them on iLounge.com earlier this month, now’s your chance to purchase one for yourself and help out those suffering from the recent earthquake in Haiti at the same time. The auction will end on Jan 28, 2010 at approximately 11:00 Pacific Time.
According to a January survey of consumer PC purchasing trends conducted by ChangeWave, pre-announcement demand for an Apple tablet is “strong.” 18% of respondents showed interest in the device, with 4% saying they were very likely to purchase an Apple tablet when it becomes available, and another 14% saying they were at least somewhat likely. In terms of pricing, three-quarters of interested consumers said they were willing to pay $500 or more for the device, while 37% said they would pay more than $700. Coincidentally, the 4%/14% ratio is the same as the percentages of consumers who said they would be very or somewhat likely to purchase a new Intel-based Mac following Apple’s announcement that it would be switching to Intel chips for its laptop and desktop computers. The survey was conducted in January 2010 among 3,314 consumers.
A number of upcoming game releases for the iPhone and iPod touch have been revealed over the last several days. Square Enix has revealed plans to release its classic Role Playing Games Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II on the App Store. Although few details have been announced, screenshots posted to the company’s Facebook account show dramatically enhanced graphics compared to the original Nintendo Entertainment System releases, and slight interface tweaks meant to take advantage of the devices’ touchscreens.
Ubisoft has confirmed that it will be releasing a follow-up to its Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles game on February 1st. According to USA Today, Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery will follow lead character Ezio as he attempts to rescue fellow assassins being held in Spain. Curiously, an “unfinished” version of the game was posted early to and subsequently pulled from the App Store, according to an IGN report; it was priced at $12 for the brief time it was available, although it is unclear whether that will remain the price when the game is officially released.
Finally, Sega has announced plans to release its Sega Ultimate Genesis Collection title for the iPhone and iPod touch. Essentially serving as an official emulator for the console, Ultimate will include the game Space Harrier II for free, with other titles, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Eco the Dolphin, and Shining Force available via In-App Purchase at prices ranging from $3-$6; more titles are expected to be added as time goes on.
AT&T has been meeting individually with regional executives to brief them on some upcoming changes to the network. Citing an unnamed source, BGR reports that the company is prepping its network to compensate for unannounced devices, as well as future devices that will use “heavy data.” The report also claims that changes to its current data and tethering plans will come once the network is able to “sufficiently handle the [data] load.” While details have yet to emerge, it has been speculated that Apple’s upcoming tablet device will be able to connect to 3G networks for Internet access when away from Wi-Fi.
The Wall Street Journal has posted a lengthy article discussing Apple’s upcoming tablet device, including the kinds of content that will be available for it and a few of its features. Citing numerous anonymous sources, the report states that Apple sees the device being shared by multiple family members, and has even experimented with the ability for the tablet to automatically recognize individual users via a built-in camera, although it’s unknown whether the feature will be included at launch. In addition to HarperCollins, Apple has also spoken to The New York Times, Conde Nast Publications, and others about working together on content for the tablet, and has also been working with Electronic Arts to show off the device’s gaming capabilities. The report also claims that the tablet will employ a virtual keyboard for text entry.
Curiously buried at the bottom of the report is news of a Web-based version of iTunes that could possibly launch as soon as June. Again citing people familiar with the matter, the report claims that the service, tentatively called iTunes.com, would allow customers to buy music without the need for opening the full iTunes application, and is a central part of a new Apple strategy to populate as many sites as possible with “buy” buttons, including integrating iTunes transactions into activities such as listening to Internet radio and surfing media review web sites.
Chinese officials have raided a counterfeit iPhone factory in Huaqiangbei in Shenzhen, China. According to a Shenzhen Daily report, 28 people have been taken into custody for questioning, and seven were arrested by police. The raid turned up more than 1,000 fake iPhones, which sell for 500 yuan (roughly $74) as opposed to more than 5,000 yuan for a real model, as well as 6,000 batteries. The report claims that Apple officials expressed their appreciation for the police’s “commendable efforts, and the company is sending staff to the area to learn more about the case. [via TUAW]
The White House has released its new official application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The app offers access to whitehouse.gov’s White House Blog and Briefing Room news areas, including photo and video content, and also offers live video streaming of White House events, including the President’s public events, web chats with Administration officials, key speeches, and press briefings. Notably, the live streaming feature will also allow users to watch next week’s State of the Union address directly on their device. The White House official application for iPhone and iPod touch is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Apple is in talks with Microsoft to have the latter’s search service Bing replace Google as the default search on the iPhone, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the matter, BusinessWeek reports that the talks have been under way for weeks, but could still potentially fall apart and may not be concluded quickly. Google has been the default search engine on the iPhone since its launch, with Yahoo! an alternative, and also provides the data and maps for the iPhone OS’ Maps application, but has been in increasing competition with Apple through its smartphone operating system Android. In addition, Apple purchased mapping company PlaceBase in 2009, and it is possible Apple plans to implement the company’s technologies in to a new version of the Maps application that is less dependent on Google’s services.
This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone inside McCarran International Airport following the 2010 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada. To share your photos and to be considered for our Photo of the Week, you simply need to submit your own photo to one of our galleries. So get out there, take some pictures with your iPod or iPhone, and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!
As speculation surrounding Apple’s upcoming media event continues to swirl, several noteworthy new reports are offering potential insights into the company’s upcoming announcements.
Beyond inviting several iPhone game developers to the January 27th event, as it has for past iPhone OS-related events, Apple has also interestingly invited gaming sites Kotaku and IGN to attend. Though it is possible that the invitations are designed merely to encourage the sites to cover gaming improvements to the iPhone OS for current and future iPhone and iPod touch devices, the invitation’s focus on Apple’s “latest creation” increases the likelihood that the company intends to push gaming as one of the new “creation’s” features.
iPhone OS 4.0 has been rumored to make its debut at the event alongside or as part of the tablet unveiling, and Boy Genius Report claims to have been briefed on several aspects of the new software by a “trusty Apple connect.” The report states that iPhone OS 4.0 will support multi-touch gestures OS-wide, will offer a “few new ways” to runs applications in the background, will feature many graphical and user interface changes to make navigating through the OS easier and more efficient, and will boast a “brand new” syncing capability for contacts and calendars. The report also states that the update will be available only for the iPhone 3G and 3GS—no mention of the iPod touch is made—but states that it will “put them ahead in the smartphone market because it will make them more like full-fledged computers,” adding that everyone is “really excited.” Although several of the enhancements listed in the report seem likely to be part of iPhone OS 4.0, it is worth noting that Boy Genius Report has a spotty track record when it comes to Apple-related announcements, incorrectly calling for Blu-ray support in iTunes 9, posting faked iTunes 9 screenshots, and predicting deeper social networking integration prior to iTunes 9’s official release last September.
Finally, new evidence suggests that Apple is considering naming its tablet device “iPad.” Slate Computing, the same company Apple supposedly used to acquire iSlate trademarks in the U.S. and European Union, was discovered to have applied for an “iPad” trademark in Canada in July 2009. This date is far more recent than the prior iSlate trademarks, which date back to 2006-2007. Similar trademark applications were filed in July in Hong Kong and Europe, by a Delaware-based company called IP Application Development (“IPAD”) and a UK law firm, respectively. Based on a source claiming to have knowledge of Apple’s plans, Mac Rumors discovered that this same company has filed for new “iPad” trademark applications in New Zealand and Australia within the last week, and while no direct link has yet been made between IP Application Development and Apple, the matching timing of the trademark filings by it and Slate Computing in July 2009 is suggestive.
It is worth noting that companies, including Apple, sometimes attempt to secure rights to several potential product marks before finalizing a name. Also noteworthy is the fact that Fujitsu appears to control the U.S. trademark for iPad, but as a current Apple component supplier, it would also appear to be a friendly negotiating partner should iPad turn out to be the product’s official name. Apple has in the past launched products without owning the trademark for their names, such as when it launched the iPhone despite the trademark being owned by Cisco, ultimately settling with the company after exchanging jabs and legal threats.
Developer Sébastien Stormacq has released iTweetMyTunes, a new iTunes companion application for Mac OS X. iTweetMyTunes lets users post the currently playing iTunes track to their Twitter accounts. The application can post updates to Twitter automatically, doing so every three minutes by default or by a user-chosen time interval, or manually. iTweetMyTunes is available as a free download and requires Mac OS X; Stormacq is accepting donations from users who download and enjoy using the application.
Apple is in negotiations with HarperCollins and several other publishers to make electronic books available for the upcoming tablet device, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources familiar with the situation, the Wall Street Journal reports that HarperCollins is expected to set the price of the e-books, with Apple taking a percentage of the sales. Details have yet to be worked out, the report states, but Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins, said in December that e-books enhanced with video, social-networking applications, and other advanced features could command higher prices for publishers than current e-books. Apple is hosting a special media event in San Francisco on January 27th, at which it is expected to unveil its long-rumored tablet device.
According to the latest research released by Gartner, worldwide mobile application store download revenue reached $4.2 billion in 2009, a number that is set to grow to $6.2 billion by the end of this year. The research group claims that 2009 saw 2.5 billion app downloads, a number that Engadget used to estimate Apple’s share of the market at roughly 97.5%. Gartner also claims that advertising-sponsored apps will generate nearly a quarter of all mobile app store revenue by 2013, a year in which the group expects overall revenue to hit $29.5 billion. Free apps are expected to account for 82% of all downloads in 2010, growing to account for 87% of downloads in 2013. “As smartphones grow in popularity and application stores become the focus for several players in the value chain, more consumers will experiment with application downloads,” said Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner. “Games remain the No. 1 application, and mobile shopping, social networking, utilities and productivity tools continue to grow and attract increasing amounts of money.”
Disgruntled employees at a plant belonging to Taiwan-based Wintek, a leading supplier of touchscreen panels for a number of devices, including the iPhone, have gone on strike, disputing working conditions and pay. According to China Daily, more than 2,000 workers gathered at the Suzhou, China plant on Friday, smashing vehicles and factory facilities while protesting harsh working conditions, spurred on by a rumor that the company was not going to pay out an expected year-end bonus from 2009. The workers claim that at least four people have died from long-term exposure to hexane, a toxic chemical workers had been asked to during the cleaning of touchscreen panels. “The truth has been hidden from public view. There are people dying from long-term exposure to the toxicant used in the factory but no one is paying attention to that. There needs to be further investigation,” a worker named Zhu told China Daily. Local authorities claim that there have been no deaths reported, and 47 people who showed signs of hexane exposure had received proper treatment; the company says it will be distributing the bonuses over the coming month. It is unclear what, if any, affect the strike might have on iPhone supplies.
Aliph has introduced its new Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset. Sporting a smaller and lighter design than prior Jawbone headsets, the Icon features NoiseAssassin 2.5 noise elimination technology, new signal processing for improved inbound audio clarity, a new volume management system that eliminates the need to adjust volume from one caller to the next, the ability to display a visual battery meter in the iPhone’s status bar, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR support, up to 4.5 hours of talk time, and support for the company’s new MyTalk software customization platform, which allows users to personalize the Icon’s speaking voice, customize an easy access button for direct access to services like directory assistance, and more. The Aliph Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset comes in six different styles and is available now for $100.