Apple has been awarded two new U.S. patents related to the iOS’s slide to unlock screen and on-screen keyboard. The patents, each entitled “Animated graphical user interfaces for a display screen or portion thereof,” relate solely to the user interface elements’ ornamental design and not to the actual function of the objects.
A large number of albums from English rock band Pink Floyd have been removed from the iTunes Store and other digital storefronts due to the expiration of a contract between the band and its label EMI. AppleInsider notes that the band’s contract covering all works since Dark Side of the Moon—including well-known recordings such as The Wall and Wish You Were Here—expired on June 30, paving the way for the removal of the albums. The report also mentions that Pink Floyd won a lawsuit against EMI in March, in which a U.K. court determined that the band could keep EMI from selling its songs as singles as opposed to full albums.
Online video sharing service Vimeo has launched its new “Universal Player” which allows users to embed video in iOS-friendly HTML5 format. According to a post on the company’s blog, the Universal Player can automatically detect what kind of device is viewing the video and choose the correct player based on the device’s capabilities. Previously, Vimeo only served HTML5 video from its own website.
iSkin has introduced its new Pulse Sports+ case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The Pulse Sports+ is made from two layers of Microban-treated silicone, the outer layer of which provides reinforcement while doubling as a hand band. It features built-in port protectors, open access to the screen, ring/silent switch and camera, and push-through button covers. The iSkin Pulse Sports+ case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now in five colors and sells for $30.
Speaking at a recent investors conference, Asustek Computer CEO Jerry Shen said that the company’s sales of netbook computers fell short of expectations in the second quarter, mainly due to competition from the Apple iPad. DigiTimes reports that Shen also said the company has lowered its targets shipments for the third quarter—traditionally its peak sales period—to 1.4 million units due to the increased competition. Asustek plans to enter the tablet PC market later this year with a Linux-powered, 8.9-inch “Eee Note” tablet, followed by a 12-inch Windows-based “Eee Pad” tablet in late 2010/early 2011, and a 10-inch tablet running Google’s Android OS in March 2011.
South Korea-based Cresyn Co., a supplier of earphones for the iPod, has said that former Apple global supply manager Paul Shin Devine was paid for what was thought to be consulting work. “It was our understanding the contract was with Apple since we knew he was an Apple employee,” Kim Chang Jun, a spokesman for the Seoul-based company, told Bloomberg. “Apple was specified in the contract, and we believed it, so we sent the money.” Devine, along with associate Andrew Ang of Singapore, was recently indicted for wire fraud, money laundering, and kickbacks. Devine allegedly shared confidential information from Apple with suppliers of iPod and iPhone accessories, which then used the information to negotiate favorable contracts with Apple.
Reuters reports that in addition to Cresyn, Apple claims that Devine was also in contact with Singapore’s Glocom/Lateral Solutions, JLJ Holdings, and Fastening Technologies, as well as Taiwan’s Nishoku Technology and Pegatron. Said Jonathan Chang, a deputy spokesman for Pegatron, “We are investigating the case now and feel sorry about this.” Pegatron owns Kaeder Electronics, a maker of third-party plastic cases for the iPhone, iPod, and other devices, which was named in the kickback charges but is not a direct Apple supplier.
Barnes & Noble has released an iPhone version of its Nook e-reader software introduced for the iPad earlier this year. The Nook e-reader apps feature access to over a million titles from Barnes & Noble’s eBookstore, multiple font types and sizes, customizable background and text colors and brightness controls. Nook also provides an integrated Merriam-Webster Pocket Dictionary, synchronization of notes, highlights and current reading position and provides a unique LendMe digital lending feature that allows users to share their purchased eBooks with friends using the Nook platform. Nook for iPhone provides the same features offered in the iPad application optimized for the iPhone’s smaller screen and iPhone 4 Retina Display and includes integrated B&N eBookstore shopping, personal B&N digital library access, digital lending features and the ability to sync notes, highlights and current reading position with other Nook apps. Barnes & Noble has also released an update to its iPad application, renaming it from BN eReader to Nook for iPad and adding the ability for users to rate their books and sort by favorites as well as a user guide and first run tutorial for new users. Nook for iPhone and Nook for iPad are available separately as free downloads from the U.S. App Store.
China Unicom has reached an agreement with Apple to sell the iPad and iPhone 4 in China, according to a new report. Citing a source within China Unicom, Caixin reports that the company has finalized a deal with Apple that will make it the sole distributor of the iPad in China, although no timetable is offered for the device’s Chinese release. In addition, the company is said to have secured rights to offer the iPhone 4 as soon as early September; the report explicitly states that the launch day will not be September 13 as had previously been rumored. Finally, the report notes that the new Wi-Fi-enabled iPhone 3GS sold out at Apple’s Beijing retail store the first day it went on sale.
Boomwave has debuted its new line of cases for the iPhone 4. The lineup includes several colors of the leather/ABS play-through and flip-style Kruz cases, featuring open access to all ports, controls, and camera, an included screen protector, squeegee, and cleaning cloth, and a laser-perforated design, the flip-top variety of Kruz featuring a vertically-opening silk-screened leather case offering open access to all ports and controls as well as an included screen protector, hand strap, squeegee, and cleaning cloth, the pouch-like Slipz made from faux leather, and the ultra-light polycarbonate Klips case featuring a laser engraved design on the rear, open access to all ports and controls, and an included screen protector, squeegee, and cleaning cloth. Boomwave’s new Kruz, Slipz and Klips cases for the iPhone 4 are available now and sell for $18-$30.
An overheating iPod led to the full halt of a Japanese commuter train Friday morning. Reuters reports that a spokesman for Tokyu Corp said the train was halted for eight minutes approximately ten miles from the center of Tokyo while investigators tried to identify the cause of the smell. “When a member of staff went to investigate inside the train, a passenger came over showing him that the iPod she was listening to had burst apart,” the spokesman told Reuters, confirming local media reports. He also said that there were no reports of injuries. It is currently unclear what model of iPod caused the incident; Apple last week launched a replacement program for first-generation iPod nano units that posed a potential fire hazard.
Sony has released a new TV advertisement for its PlayStation Portable handheld gaming console that mocks players of iOS games. Holding a device that clearly is meant to resemble an iPhone, a young man—identified as “Josh Rose,” who is said to be “kidding himself”—holds up the device, talking about the “sweet game” he’s playing. Sony’s new PSP TV advertisement spokesperson “Marcus” exclaims that the device “isn’t built for big boy games,” and proceeds to show a variety of games available for the PSP for only $9.99. The new advertisement appears in embedded form below. [via Kotaku]
Mind Crew has released Mayan Puzzle, a new puzzle game for the iPhone and iPod touch. A unique variant of a match-three style game, Mayan Puzzle includes four modes: classic, time trial, challenge and marathon to provide different styles of play ranging from an action puzzler to a more classic strategy game. The game is set in a beautiful Mayan surrounding with 32 animated backgrounds and includes impressive special effects and an original Mayan soundtrack. The game provides 32 levels in classic strategic mode, four target times in time trial mode, four difficulty settings in challenge mode or infinite gameplay in marathon mode. Online leaderboards and 35 achievements are provided through OpenFeint integration. Mayan Puzzle is available from the App Store for $1.
Bose has introduced a new iPhone, iPod, and iPad-friendly headset, along with two other new headphone models. The MIE2i is a new Apple-friendly in-ear headset, while the MIE2 is a headset for other brands’ mobile devices; both are modeled after the company’s new IE2 in-ear headphones. All three feature new StayHear tips that promise greater in-ear stability and an improved fit, a re-engineered design for improved audio quality, an included leather carrying case, and a black, white and silver color scheme. The MIE2 incorporates an in-line microphone, while the Apple-targeted MIE2i includes both a microphone and an in-line three button remote. Bose’s new IE2 in-ear headphones and MIE2 mobile headset are available now and sell for $100 and $130, respectively, while the MIE2i headset is expected to ship in October for $130. [via Crave]
A chunk of code found within Apple’s iOS 4 suggests the company is preparing to field test next-generation iPhone and iPad units. Boy Genius Report claims that the code, found by one of its Apple sources, queries the device, and automatically activates it should it be an unreleased device, bypassing the need for connection to iTunes. The report claims that the unreleased models are CDMA flavors of the iPhone and iPad, but also notes that similar code has been found every year before a major iOS device release, and has been removed before the devices’ respective launches. Finally, the report claims that the platform code of the CDMA iPhone is N92AP—John Gruber had earlier pegged it as N92—while the next-generation iPod touch’s platform code is said to be N81AP.
An addition to ChangeWave’s July survey suggests that nearly one-third of U.S. iPhone 4 users would be likely to switch to Verizon as their service provider should the carrier begin offering the iPhone. 18% of iPhone 4 users said they would be “somewhat likely” to switch, while 13% said they would be “very likely” to switch. Notably, the survey results shared earlier this month indicated that the requirement of using AT&T was iPhone 4 owners’ biggest dislike, with 27% of the vote, followed closely by dislike of the coverage/speed/quality of AT&T’s 3G network at 24%. ChangeWave’s survey was based on the reactions and opinions of 213 Apple iPhone 4 owners. In addition, Fortune points to a similar July survey of 1,000 consumers from Morpace that found 47% of current iPhone customers who would consider a Verizon iPhone, with 34% of current AT&T iPhone users who are waiting for the iPhone to become available on another carrier before upgrading.
Square Enix has released the iPad version of Chaos Rings, its popular RPG introduced earlier this year for the iPhone and iPod touch. The story in Chaos Rings centers on a tournament where combatants must fight for their lives in the Ark Arena. Players choose a pair of characters and must then fight against other pairs as the story unfolds to reveal the truth behind the Ark Arena. The game provides a deep storyline with unique tales for each pair of characters and multiple endings. The iPad version brings the same classic game system from the iPhone app with higher-resolution graphics, detailed backgrounds, intense battle scenes and an enhanced soundtrack. Chaos Rings for iPad is available from the App Store for $16.
South Korean iPhone carrier KT has said it plans to begin to take pre-orders for the iPhone 4 later this week. AFP reports that KT will be accepting pre-orders both online and in its stores beginning Wednesday. “We hope the iPhone 4 will draw a hot response from clients as the iPhone 3 did,” KT said in a statement, adding that it would hit the market some time in September. Apple has sold more than 850,000 iPhones in South Korea since the handset launched in the country nine months ago.
Apple has hired Benjamin Vigier, a veteran of Near-Field Communications (NFC) development, as its new product manager for mobile commerce. Vigier, who joined Apple in July, according to his LinkedIn page, was most recently product manager for mobile wallet, payment, and NFC at US mobile payments company mFoundry. NFC World reports that while at mFoundry, Vigier helped develop and managed both the PayPal Mobile service and Starbucks’ barcode-based mobile payments service, among several other high-profile projects. It is not yet known what future products Vigier may be working on for Apple, but the company has applied for a number of NFC-related patents over the past year. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple is facing some early challenges in getting its iAd mobile advertising network up and running, according to a new report. Citing unnamed ad executives, the Wall Street Journal reports that some ad campaigns are experiencing delays due to Apple’s tight control over the creative process and the agencies’ learning curves. The report claims that the creation of iAds is taking from eight to ten weeks, or longer than normal for typical mobile ads, and the building of the actual ads, which is currently being handled by Apple, is sometimes taking two weeks longer than expected. Of the 17 iAd launch partners named by Apple, only ads from Unilever and Nissan were running for much of July; Citigroup, Disney, and J.C. Penney have since launched iAd campaigns with more companies to follow. Notably, one named launch partner—Chanel SA—is now saying it has no iAd campaigns planned at this time. A recent report claimed that early advertisers and developers are nonetheless pleased with iAd’s early performance; Apple recently added new functionality to iAd allowing developers to sell apps directly from within iAds, helping the company to fill iAd slots.
iOS developer Omer Shoor has released an update to his acclaimed photo editing application for the iPad. Photogene for iPad is an intuitive application that provides iPad users with a comprehensive set of photo editing tools, including cropping and straightening, sharpening, color adjustments, red-eye correction, resizing, filters, special effects and text boxes and frames. Users can upload their edited photos directly to Facebook and Twitter, send the new photos out via e-mail or save them back to the iPad Photo Library. Photogene also provides support for opening and editing RAW files imported with the iPad Camera Connection kit. Photogene for iPad 1.3 adds support for uploading images directly to Flickr and FTP servers and adding IPTC metadata to photos during upload. The update also provides custom crop ratios and fixes a bug related to selecting Facebook albums. Photogene for iPad 1.3 is available from the App Store for $4 and is a free update for current users. The iPhone and iPod touch version of Photogene has not yet been updated.
An Apple manager has been arrested and accused of accepting kickback payments from iPod and iPhone accessory suppliers. The San Jose Mercury News reports that Paul Shin Devine, a global supply manager with Apple, along with Andrew Ang of Singapore, were named in a grand jury indictment for wire fraud, money laundering, and kickbacks. According to the report, the scheme saw Devine share confidential information from Apple with the suppliers, which used the information to negotiate favorable contracts with Apple. In return, the suppliers gave Devine monetary kickbacks, which were routed through U.S. and foreign bank accounts, plus a front company. Devine is currently being held by the U.S. Marshals Service; Apple has filed a separate civil suit against Devine, claiming he received more than $1 million in “payments, kickbacks and bribes” over several years. “Apple is committed to the highest ethical standards in the way we do business,” said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling. “We have zero tolerance for dishonest behavior inside or outside the company.”
Update: According to Macworld UK, China’s Kaeder Electronics, South Korea’s Cresyn, and Singapore’s Jin Li Mould Manufacturing were all involved in the kickback scheme, along with three other suppliers; none of the three named suppliers has yet commented on the case.
Don’t forget to get your entry in for our Slacker Radio Plus Giveaway. In our Giveaway of the Month for August, iLounge and Slacker are giving away 12 subscriptions to one year of free Slacker Radio Plus. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on August 31, 2010 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Following news from earlier this week on a hidden volume shutter button feature in the Camera+ app, it appears that Apple may now be cracking down on other iPhone camera applications that have employed similar features. In a post on Tap tap tap’s blog explaining how its Camera+ update was initially rejected by Apple, developer John Casasanta noted that there were other camera apps that “make use of the volume buttons for snapping photos” but that Apple advised him that these likely “slipped through the review cracks” as a result of developers intentionally omitting the feature from descriptions and screenshots. Tap tap tap was forced to remove the volume button shutter feature from Camera+ but later revealed via Twitter that the feature was still hidden away within the app and described how to enable it. Camera+ was subsequently removed from the App Store, presumably for violating the terms of Apple’s Developer Agreement.
Today, another iOS developer, KendiTech, released an update to its Camera Zoom 2 app with release notes indicating that it had “Removed [the] Volume Button Shutter feature.” It is unclear whether this removal was precipitated by a specific request from Apple or whether the developer chose to be proactive in removing this feature as a result of the demise of Camera+.
Citing precedent with Apple’s approach to LED flashlight apps, which were originally banned from the App Store for a similar reason, Casasanta has submitted a feature request to Apple to allow for the hardware volume controls to be used for other purposes and encourages users to send feedback to Apple to attempt to pressure the company to change its policy.