For the third year in a row, Apple has been ranked as the “World’s Most Admired Company” by Fortune. The magazine describes Apple as the company that “changed the way we do everything from buy music to design products to engage with the world around us. Its track record for innovation and fierce consumer loyalty translates into tremendous respect across business’ highest ranks.” A quote from BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer is also included, stating, “The whole world held its breath before the iPad was announced. That’s brand management at its very best.” Joining Apple in Fortune’s top five are Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson, and Amazon. Fortune’s rankings are based on the results of a survey conducted among 4,170 executives, directors, and securities analysts, who were asked to list the 10 companies they admired most.
The AppMaster has released a new free reference app for the 2010 Academy Awards. Meet The Oscars provides a full list of this year’s Academy Awards nominees, organized by category and film and allows users to keep a checklist of which movies they have viewed or are interested in seeing. Links to IMDB are provided for each nominated film, director and actor and users can view movie trailers directly from within the app. Meet The Oscars is available from the App Store as a free download.
Polarbit has released Raging Thunder 2, a successor to its popular Raging Thunder racing game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Raging Thunder 2 allows the player to choose from among a fleet of fully upgradeable tuner cars and race on one of ten different tracks featuring high-quality OpenGL 2.0 3D graphics. Users can upgrade various aspects of their car including wheels, body, wings and engine to tune for optimal performance. The game features six single-player modes: Career, Arcade, Single Race, Time Attack, Survival and Instant Race. Cross-platform online and local multiplayer modes are also supported, allowing users to compete against other iPhone or even Android users. Raging Thunder 2 is available from the App Store for $5.
A federal judge in Delaware has signed an order halting litigation between Nokia and Apple over alleged patent infringement pending resolution of the companies’ respective claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC announced in January that it would investigate Nokia’s claims of patent infringement against Apple, and said it would consider Apple’s claims against Nokia in February. The Associated Press reports that the judge’s covers both Nokia’s lawsuit against Apple, filed in October 2009, and Apple’s countersuit against Nokia; it is unknown how long it will take the ITC to come to a judgement in the case.
Apple has pulled several Wi-Fi detection applications from the App Store, according to a Register report. The reports states that Apple has pulled the apps, which actively scanned for nearby available Wi-Fi networks, because they used a “private framework.” “We received a very unfortunate email today from Apple stating that WiFi Where has been removed from sale on the App Store for using private frameworks to access wireless information,” said one developer, who noted that Apple has declined to explain exactly what framework it is referencing. Users can still scan for nearby Wi-Fi networks using the Wi-Fi area of the iPhone’s and iPod touch’s Settings app; several Wi-Fi locating applications that rely on Location data and a database of hotspots also remain available.
Scosche has announced that its ReviveLite 2 combination charger and nightlight for the iPod and iPhone is now shipping. Originally debuted in our 2010 iPod + iPhone Buyers’ Guide, the ReviveLite 2 features a smaller footprint than its predecessor, with a new forward-folding dock for greater stability. Other features include a new USB port on the side for charging a second device, and an integrated, switchable LED nightlight. Scosche’s ReviveLite 2 combination charger and nightlight is available now and sells for $25.
Chillingo has released Radio Flare REDUX for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by studio radiolaris as a successor to its popular Radio Flare, REDUX is a music-based side-scrolling shooter featuring action choreographed to a techno, club and house soundtrack by internationally renowned DJs and dance artists. In the game, players pilot a spaceship through 33 levels by dragging or using an on-screen joystick, dodging or destroying enemy ships as they go. Each level provides a unique soundtrack and distinct club-style visuals with action moving to the rhythm of the music. The game also includes unlockable rewards, support for Crystal online leaderboards and a feature for users to upload and share their gameplay screenshots via Twitter. Radio Flare REDUX is available from the App Store for $3.
CaseCrown has introduced its new Timber Glider V2 case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Made from Maple, Rosewood, and/or Walnut, the Timber Glider V2 is a wooden case featuring a soft felt lining for scratch protection, a unique “squeeze latch” closure, a striped design, and open access to all ports, controls, and the camera. CaseCrown’s Timber Glider V2 case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now and sells for $35.
Booq has introduced its new Boa skin XS case for the Apple iPad. Boa skin XS is a low-profile, sleeve-style case offering a rigid, durable “Twylon” base for impact protection, neoprene outer skin, and a soft non-scratch interior for added display protection. While the Boa skin XS can be carried on its own, the design is also good for protecting the device while in another bag, pack, or purse. Booq’s Boa skin XS sleeve for iPad is available now in turquoise, yellow, violet, sand, or black, and sells for $30.
GelaSkins has announced that it is now offering select Marvel Comics designs on its protective, decorative skins for the iPod and iPhone. Currently available designs include character images of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the X-Men, and are available for the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, first-, second-, and third-generation iPod touch, and the iPod classic, as well as through the company’s Do-It-Yourself customizable service. All GelaSkins feature a patented 3M adhesive for easy removal, an anti-scratch, anti-UV coating, and allow for full access to the device’s ports and controls. GelaSkins new line of Marvel Comics skins are available now and sell for $15-$30 depending on device.
Vlingo has released a major update to its voice recognition application for the iPhone. Initially released in late 2008, Vlingo was one of the first voice-powered iPhone apps to allow users to initiate calls, search the web and Google Maps and compose Facebook and Twitter status updates using voice commands. Vlingo 2.0 adds support for dictating and sending e-mail and SMS messages by voice and a completely redesigned user interface to improve ease of use. Searching, updating Facebook and Twitter status and placing calls from the iPhone contact list remain free, however the new features for sending e-mail and SMS messages require an in-app purchase of $7 for one service, or $10 for both. Vlingo 2.0 requires an iPhone running OS 3.1.2 or later and is available on the App Store as a free download.
Apple has been in talks with some of the major film studios recently about enabling iTunes users to store their content on Apple-controlled servers, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the discussions, Cnet reports that the service would be offered alongside similar cloud-based offerings for TV shows and music, and that Apple’s plan would involve having users access video from various Internet-connected devices, including, most prominently, the iPad. “Basically, they want to eliminate the hard drive,” one source said. The report notes that there is some indication consumers purchasing large amounts of media, including music, videos, and applications, are beginning to max out their hard drives, leading to a possible fall in sales due to the lack of available storage. Notably, the movie studios are said to be concerned about ensuring that purchased media is accessible from a number of devices, including those not made by Apple; this despite the fact that the DRM placed on the companies’ current iTunes Store offerings prohibits them from being played on any non-Apple device.
Apple has begun to email certain iTunes Store account holders seeking feedback on how they use the Store, iLounge has learned. The email, which carries the subject “Tell us how you like iTunes,” links to a survey about use of the iTunes Store; more specifically, about video and movie purchase and rental, including why users purchase movies from the iTunes Store and what types of devices they typically watch them on. Other questions asked about users’ purchases of Blu-ray and DVD movies and TV shows, about other ways in which they view movie and TV content, including cable/satellite, TiVo, torrents, Netflix, and traditional rentals, and why they would choose the iTunes Store over other methods. The email specifies that “responses will remain completely confidential, and results will be viewed only in aggregate,” and that the survey takes “15 minutes or less to complete.”
Fire Core has released version 4.1 of its aTV Flash software utility package for the Apple TV. aTV Flash allows users to install a number of different software packages—including the Couch Surfer Pro web browser, a RSS feed reader, and support for a much broader set of media formats—on their Apple TV units using a USB flash drive. New in version 4.1 is full 5.1 surround sound support for nearly all media types, including DVD (VIDEO_TS) files, faster web browsing and enhanced Remote app support for the Couch Surfer Pro browser, “much improved” media playback, and compatibility with Apple TV Software 3.0.2. aTV Flash 4.1 is available now for Mac or Windows, requires a 256MB or larger USB flash drive, and sells for $50 with a year of software updates included.
iPhone developer Alberto Garcia Hierro has released Buzzie, a native iPhone app for accessing Google’s new Google Buzz service. Buzzie allows iPhone and iPod touch users to post public or private Buzz messages, view messages from other Buzz users and comment on messages and mark them as liked. Users can also browse links and images attached to messages, manage followers, find new people to follow and view nearby places and related Buzz messages. Buzzie is available from the App Store at an introductory price of $2.
Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp, has confirmed that an iPad application for the Wall Street Journal is presently under development. This follows a report that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had visited the Wall Street Journal last month to provide a personal demonstration of the iPad. According to Murdoch, WSJ developers have been given access to a pre-release iPad for development purposes but that the device is “kept under padlock and key” by an Apple employee. The iPad WSJ app is expected to expand upon the publication’s existing iPhone app to take better advantage of the larger screen on the iPad. [via TUAW]
Apple has recently been pressuring the major music labels to stop participating in the Amazon MP3 Daily Deal promotions, according to a Billboard report. Citing multiple anonymous label executives, the report claims that Amazon originally launched the promotions as a way to drive traffic to the store, but more recently began asking for one-day exclusives prior to the featured albums’ release dates and digital marketing support from the labels in exchange for featuring the albums as Daily Deals. “When that happened,” the executive said, “iTunes said, ‘Enough of that [crap].’ ” According to the report, Apple has since been urging labels to rethink their participation in the Daily Deal, even going so far as to withdraw market support for certain releases featured in Amazon’s promotion. In response, Amazon has reportedly been fine-tuning the promotion, agreeing to forgo the one-day exclusive window on new releases, but Apple and iTunes have continued to voice displeasure over other aspects of the promotion, including label-provided marketing support.
As a result of the tension between iTunes and Amazon, most labels are now said to be hesitant to allow new releases to be part of the Daily Deals promotion; one major label head of sales said it is now sometimes sensible to partner with Amazon on releases that might not receive the same marketing support on the iTunes Store. “The whole issue is a kind of interesting dynamic,” a senior major-label distribution executive said. “Amazon is fighting a guerrilla war against iTunes, and now iTunes is getting frustrated because they work hard to set up and promote a release weeks in advance of the street date, and then lo and behold, Amazon jumps in there with this deal of the day and scrapes off some of the cream.”
Apple will begin training its retail employees on the iPad beginning March 10, according to a new report. Citing anonymous inside sources, as well as an Apple Store manager in Southern California, The Examiner reports that commercials for the device will begin airing on March 15, with e-book capabilities as a point of emphasis, and that Friday, March 26 is a “very likely” date for the device’s launch, although the official date has yet to be set. Finally, the report states that 3G versions of the device won’t be available until April or possibly May, and that customers who “camp out” for the iPad launch will receive an unspecified “special gift.” At its iPad special event on January 27, Apple declined to give an exact launch date for the device, saying instead that the Wi-Fi version would launch in roughly “60 days,” with the 3G version launching about 30 days after its Wi-Fi-only counterpart.
Speaking at an investor conference this week, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson made several comments concerning the iPhone and iPad. Regarding the iPhone, Stephenson said he expects the device to be an important part of the company’s handset lineup for “quite some time.” The Wall Street Journal reports that he also said that major carriers will eventually move to a “variable pricing model” to help deal with the large amount of data consumed by smartphone users, noting that AT&T handles half of all U.S. data traffic. Regarding the iPad, Reuters reports that Stephenson said he does not expect the device to help drive new service subscriptions for the company as most users will choose a prepaid data plan. “My expectation is that there’s not going to be a lot of people out there looking for another subscription,” he said, adding that the device would be a mainly “Wi-Fi driven product.” [via Mac Rumors]
This week’s featured photo is from our iPods Around the World gallery, and shows a third-generation iPod at the Nami Beach Resort in Boracay. 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!