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Apple adds new countries to the App Store

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In an update to its iPhone Developer Program news and announcements page, Apple has revealed that it has added several new countries to the App Store. New countries receiving App Store support include Armenia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Jordan, Kenya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, and Uganda. The update states that developers can “log in to iTunes Connect to view and update the countries where your applications are available,” however, Mac Rumors notes that paid applications require the developer to sign contracts for new countries before the applications can appear.

ITC to investigate Apple’s claim against Nokia

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has said that it will consider Apple’s patent infringement complaint against Nokia, Bloomberg reports. Apple filed a complaint against Nokia with the ITC last month, seeking to block imports of the Finnish-based company’s phones. The ITC’s announcement is the latest development in the ongoing dispute between the two companies. Nokia first filed suit against Apple in October 2009, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents; Apple filed a countersuit claiming patent infringement in December. The lawsuits were followed by an ITC complaint from Nokia near the end of the year, alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers;” the ITC announced an investigation into Nokia’s claims against Apple in late January.

CBS confirms $1 TV shows on iTunes

Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS, has confirmed an earlier report that Apple will soon be offering some TV shows for $1 through the iTunes Store. “There are certain shows that will be sold on Apple for 99 cents,” said Moonves. The Financial Times reports that the network has not yet decided which shows to offer at the lower price point, and that other television networks have agreed to similar terms and are expected to begin selling some shows at the reduced price to boost sales. A report from last week indicated that the new $1 offerings would be in standard definition, and may be launched alongside the iPad late next month.

Zirak Mobile releases Scanner & Fax app

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Zirak Mobile has released a new application for photographing and sending out documents directly from the iPhone. Scanner&Fax; allows users to take pictures of documents with the iPhone camera, enhance them and organize them into multi-page PDF files. The resulting PDF documents can be transferred to a computer over Wi-Fi, saved to Google Docs, iDisk or WebDAV, or sent via e-mail or fax. Faxes are sent via the InterFax online fax service and users can include a cover page with their document or send a cover-only fax. The app can automatically enhance photographed documents or the user can manually adjust settings such as brightness, contrast and color intensity and correct perspective deformations. Scanner&Fax requires an iPhone 3GS with OS 3.1 or later and is available on the App Store for $6. Faxing capabilities require the user to set up an account with the InterFax service.

Apple CEO Jobs pushes WSJ to dump Flash

During a recent meeting with executives from the Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Steve Jobs aggressively dismissed Adobe’s Flash technology, urging the publication to develop non-Flash alternatives for its video and other interactive content. Citing people familiar with the meeting, Silicon Alley Insider reports that Jobs called Flash a “CPU hog,” claiming that the iPad’s battery performance would drop from 10 hours to 1.5 hours if forced to spend CPU cycles on Flash processing. The CEO also said Flash was a source of “security holes,” and compared it with other older technologies that have either been jettisoned or are in decline, including the floppy drive, old data ports, non LED-backlit LCD screens, and the CD, which faces competition from higher-capacity physical media and downloads. In addition, Jobs suggested that the Journal should switch to H.264 for its video content, and said that it would be “trivial” to make the switch not only to H.264, but to Javascript-based slideshows and other interactive features.

Apple patent details camera bias compensation

  • February 18, 2010
  • Apple

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A newly-published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on new manufacturing processes that would provide consumers with a more consistent experience when using cameras built-in to the company’s products. Entitled “Apparatus and Method for Compensating for Variations in Digital Cameras,” the patent explains that imaging sensors and lenses can vary slightly from unit to unit, resulting in inconsistent operation. The patent proposes to overcome this limitation by having each module capture images of colored light, which are then measured for color intensity bias. The resulting bias is stored in the camera, and is used to ensure that images and video captured by the camera contain appropriate color information. Curiously, images included in the application also depict an iPod-like device with a front-facing camera. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via AppleInsider]

Apple blocks import records ahead of iPad launch

Apple has taken steps to block its ocean freight import records from public view ahead of the launch of its new iPad tablet computer, according to trade data protection company Trade Privacy. According to a press release issued by Trade Privacy, industry competitors and media will be unable to acquire any early intelligence on Apple products arriving on U.S. shores from foreign manufacturers, preventing outlets like ImportGenius—which predicted the arrival of the iPhone 3G in 2008 by monitoring the company’s import shipments—from predicting the arrival of the iPad and other future products. Notably, Trade Privacy says that other large technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Sony continue to expose their import records to customers, media, and competitors. “It is alarming, critical trade secrets such as manufacturer sources, quantity of goods, product descriptions, destinations, and product arrival dates are now accessible to anyone in just a few clicks on-line,” explains Andrew Park, CEO of Trade Privacy. Without protection of their import data, companies make sensitive information accessible, which Park states, “can be detrimental to their competitive stance.” Apple is expected to launch its first Wi-Fi-only iPad models in late March. [via Fortune]

Adobe CEO blasts Apple’s ‘proprietary’ business model

Speaking in an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen criticized Apple for its decision not to support Flash on its iPhone OS devices, according to a Computerworld report. Reiterating stats claiming that 85 percent of the top 100 Web sites in the world use Flash and that it delivers 75 percent of Internet videos, while hailing its “powerful ecosystem” of partners, Narayen said Apple isn’t serving its customers by blocking access to Flash content. “Considering the amount of content on the Web that uses Flash — not allowing your consumers to access that content isn’t showing off the Web in all its glory,” Narayen said. “Apple’s business model is more trying to maintain a proprietary lock.”

The CEO also mentioned Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ statement from March 2008 that the full-blown Flash Player “performs too slow to be useful” on the iPhone, calling for a third version of the software that fell in between the desktop and “Lite” versions of the software. Narayen described Jobs’ statement as “a little bit of a red herring,” before pointing out that the new 10.1 version of the software—which is expected to make its way onto some Android and other smartphones later this year—fills that gap. Earlier this year Jobs made further comments about Flash at a closed company event, calling Adobe lazy, and its Flash player buggy, while predicting that web developers would move away from the software as they focus more on HTML5 development.

Ngmoco shifts to free-to-play pricing model, shelves Rolando 3

Developer Ngmoco, known for popular games such as Rolando and Star Defense, is reportedly planning to shift to a “Freemium” pricing model for its game lineup, doing away with charging up front for titles. Already found in games such as Eliminate and Touch Pets Dogs, the free-to-play approach gives away the games for free and relies on in-app purchases to generate revenue by selling additional content and power-ups within each game. In an interview with Gamasutra, Ngmoco VP Alan Yu cited high piracy rates and the difficulty in selling iPhone games at higher price points as partial reasons for this change.

Unfortunately, the highly-anticipated Rolando 3 does not fit into this new free-to-play pricing model. Speaking with IGN, Ngmoco founder and CEO Neil Young indicated that Rolando 2 had not quite met the company’s sales expectations and confirmed that Rolando 3 has been put on hold until such time as ngmoco could decide the best way in which to deliver the Rolando franchise effectively as free-to-play games. [via Touch Arcade]

Apple iBookstore prices to be lower than expected?

While publishers have cheered Apple’s decision to allow e-book pricing as high as $14.99, that number may act as more of a price ceiling than a general guideline, according to a new report. Citing at least three people with knowledge of the discussions between Apple and major book publishers, the New York Times reports that Apple inserted provisions in the agreements requiring publishers to discount prices on best sellers, possibly to as low as the $9.99 pricing seen on Amazon’s Kindle store. The report also claims that Apple wanted e-book prices to reflect the hardcover price in cases where the hardcover edition was sold for less than the standard $26. During its iBooks and iBookstore announcement, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed the company had signed agreements with five of the six largest book publishers—Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Hachette book group. According to the report, Apple will take 30 percent of each sale, with the remaining 70 percent going to the the publisher and author; notably, some books shown during the iBookstore demo were available for as little as $4.99. Apple is expected to launch its iBooks app and iBookstore alongside the iPad in late march.

AppBox Pro update adds themes, new features

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AllAboutApps has released an update to AppBox Pro, its popular multipurpose iPhone application. AppBox Pro is a collection of small utility apps that provide features such as battery life information, unit conversions, date calculations, tip calculators, translations and much more. The new version adds support for themes and background images, a secure wallet app, a calculator on numeric entry keypads, and a strobe feature in the flashlight tool. The update also adds nine new languages to the translation tool and twelve new countries in the Holidays tool. AppBox Pro is available on the App Store for $1 and is a free update for existing users.

Google acquires iPhone developer, pulls app from App Store

Google has purchased reMail, a mail account searching service, and has pulled the company’s app from the iTunes Store. In an update on his personal blog, reMail founder and former Gmail engineering intern Gabor Cselle writes that “Google and reMail have decided to discontinue reMail’s iPhone application, and we have removed it from the App Store… If you already have reMail, it will continue to work. We’ll even provide support for you until the end of March, and we’ve enabled all paid reMail features for you: You can activate these by clicking ‘Restore Purchases’ inside the app. reMail downloads email directly from your email provider to your phone, and your personal information, passwords, and email are never sent to or stored on our servers.” It is unclear whether Google has plans to re-launch the app under its own brand, or integrate the feature into its current Gmail service.

Bongiovi Acoustics releases iTunes DPS plug-in

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Bongiovi Acoustics, developers of the Digital Power Station (DPS) audio enhancement technology used in the iHome iP1 speakers, has announced a new DPS Plug-in for iTunes. The plug-in, released initially for Mac OS X users, promises to enhance the sound of any Mac’s connected speakers or headphones. A version for iTunes for Windows is planned for later this year.

According to the company, the plug-in is designed to improve the brightness and clarity of compressed audio files while providing richer and deeper bass response, analyzing the audio signal in real-time and optimizing it for play back through the user’s audio system. The plug-in uses profiles with calibration settings that have been custom-turned by the company for the intended playback device. Additional profiles for specific devices can also be downloaded by the plug-in. The DPS Plug-in is available for $30; a trial version is available.

Apple bumps iPhone cellular download cap to 20MB

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Apple has quietly increased the limit for over-the-air downloads from the App Store and iTunes Store on the iPhone. Until recently only content under 10MB in size could be downloaded over an EDGE or 3G connection—downloading of larger apps and media content had to be done over Wi-Fi. This limit now appears to have been increased to 20MB in both the App Store and iTunes Store on the device, allowing users to download larger applications and video content. The exact reason for this change is not clear, although it could be related to the impending release of the iPad, improvements in carrier bandwidth, or simply a desire to allow users to have anywhere access to larger applications on the App Store.

Vimov adds iPad support to iSimulate

Vimov has added support for Apple’s iPad Simulator to its iSimulate developer utility. iSimulate is an iPhone app and Xcode library bundle that lets iPhone developers wirelessly control their applications and games from an actual iPhone or iPod touch unit. The new version of iSimulate allows developers to utilize the multitouch screen, accelerometer, GPS, and compass of the iPhone or iPod touch units to control iPad applications running within the iPad simulator, features that are not available via Mac-based controls. The updated version of iSimulate is available now from the App Store for $10, down from its normal price of $16; a free Lite version is also available.

ITC to review Apple, RIM in Kodak imaging dispute

The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has said it will consider a complaint filed by Kodak last month against Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion claiming that the two handset makers are infringing on Kodak patents related to digital cameras. Specifically, Kodak claims the iPhone and some BlackBerry models infringe on a patent covering technology for previewing photos. The ITC will also decide whether to ban the imports from Apple and RIM after Kodak claimed that the companies refused to pay patent royalties on the technology. Kodak has also filed a civil lawsuit against the two companies in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, seeking unspecified damages.

CoPilot adds Local Search as standard feature

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ALK Technologies has announced that it plans to include local Internet search as a standard feature in its CoPilot Live GPS navigation application for the iPhone. Local search was previously available only as a Premium feature via an in-app purchase. The integrated local search feature enables users to search for services and products directly within the CoPIlot application and be directed to the appropriate destination. Live Local Search will be available in CoPilot Live for North America, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. ALK plans to add the free Live Local Search in a forthcoming App Store update to the iPhone app.

Apple CEO Jobs wins award at Mobile World Congress

  • February 17, 2010
  • Apple

Despite Apple’s notable absence at Mobile World Congress, CEO Steve Jobs has been named “Mobile personality of the year” by the GSM Association as voted by the media. Jobs’ award was the only award won by Apple at the event, however, as Best Mobile Handset or Device went to the HTC Hero. British actor, comedian, and writer Stephen Fry, who hosted the awards, accepted the award in Jobs’ stead, adding that he couldn’t make it to the event because “he’s busy working on Apple’s next big thing the iDiaper.” Jobs bested fellow CEOs Eric Schmidt of Google, Mike Lazaridis of RIM, and Pete Chou of HTC for the award.

Essential TPE intros cases for Apple iPad

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Essential TPE has announced two new cases for the Apple iPad. The Puff sleeve | S is fashioned after a puffy winter jacket, and offers a high-gloss nylon exterior, 4mm of neoprene and foam lining, and a zip closure. It will sell for $30. The Ultra Protection sleeve | slim is a sleeve-style case featuring a cross-weaved, 1680D nylon exterior, soft interior lining, EVA foam padding, and a Velcro-closure top strip for keeping the iPad securely inside the case. It will sell for $35. Finally, the vivid protector (ar) is an optical quality, anti-glare PET screen protector that offers reduced moiré, and an included application solution kit. It will sell for $25. All of Essential TPE’s new protective solutions for iPad are expected to ship by the mid-March.

Apple receives patent for multipoint touchscreen

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Apple has been awarded a patent for a multipoint touchscreen. U.S. Patent No. 7,663,607, entitled “Multipoint Touchscreen,” more specifically covers a larger, two-hand touchscreen, or as mentioned in the patent itself, a “tablet PC.” The patent’s summary descibes a transparent capacitive sensing surface that can sense multiple simultaneous touches and at distinct locations, similar to the technology seen in the recent announced iPad. This allows the computer to react to the multiple touches at once, allowing for more advanced interation than possible on a single-touch sensing surface. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Patently Apple]

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