Rémi Denis-Courmont, one of the primary developers of the VLC Media Player has sent a formal notification of copyright infringement to Apple regarding distribution of the VLC media player for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Denis-Courmont indicates that VLC media player is free software licensed solely under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and Apple is violating the terms of the GPL through its App Store usage rules which restrict free and open distribution of applications by applying Digital Rights Management (DRM) that prevents users from freely sharing the application.
Denis-Courmont goes on to state that although VLC is still available on the App Store, “it is to be expected that Apple will cease distribution soon” pointing to the example of GNU Go which was removed by Apple earlier this year under similar circumstances. Denis-Courmont notes that the developers who published VLC for the iPad should have been fully aware of the incompatibility of the GPL with the App Store distribution model and “they bear full responsibility for any consequences” however he also notes that “users of iOS-based devices [will] be deprived of VLC media player, as a consequence of the intransigently tight control Apple maintains over its mobile applications platform.” The GNU General Public License requires that works licensed under it must be free to be used for any purpose, freely shared with others, and open to modification by individual users to suit their needs and share those changes with others. The iOS and App Store distribution model precludes most of these uses through Digital Rights Management of the application as well as the inability for end users to create their own modifications to the source code without being a member of Apple’s iOS Developer Program.
Condé Nast has released an update to its Gourmet Live app addressing the serious iPad crashes reported earlier this week. The previous version of Gourmet Live was in some cases causing iPads to lock up completely, requiring a hard reboot to restore normal operation of the device and may have even led to more serious stability problems. Gourmet Live 1.05 addresses these crashes as well as providing fixes for Lost Rewards in the library, updates to increase accuracy of history and reward tracking and a number of other additional bug fixes and improvements. Gourmet Live is available from the App Store as a free download.
In an interview with GigaOM, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse indicated that despite not selling the iPad, his company has actually benefited from Apple’s tablet device in the form of increased demand for its Overdrive MiFi wireless hotspots. Hesse notes that most iPads being sold are Wi-Fi only models and many customers turn to MiFi devices to get online when away from traditional wireless access points. Sprint was one of the first carriers to promote the use of the iPad Wi-Fi with a portable wireless hotspot by releasing a 4G Case for iPad.
Hesse declined to comment on the iPhone or Sprint’s relationship with Apple, stating only that it is currently focusing on the BlackBerry and Android smartphone platforms and that it does not comment on any conversations it has with third parties. Hesse added that the majority of devices sold in the past quarter for use on Sprint’s CDMA network were smartphones and that 45 percent of Sprint customers now have a smartphone. Like Verizon, Sprint’s CDMA network is incompatible with current iPhone models, however a CDMA iPhone built for Verizon would technically also be compatible with Sprint’s network; although it’s almost inevitable that Verizon’s iPhone would be sold locked to the Verizon network, the creation of a CDMA-compatible iPhone by Apple would open the door to the possibility of other U.S. carriers such as Sprint eventually carrying the iPhone as well. [via AppleInsider]
Fortune has provided additional confirmation of a Verizon iPhone launching in early 2011. In an article profiling Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, Fortune confirms “that a Verizon iPhone will be released in early 2011” and adds that its sources indicate that the first version of the Verizon iPhone will likely be built to run only on CDMA networks rather than being a world phone that can roam internationally. Fortune’s profile of Seidenberg also provides some additional insights into the history of the relationship between Apple and Verizon during Apple’s initial efforts to bring the iPhone to market. Fortune’s confirmation follows similar reports earlier this month from other major publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. [via Mac Rumors]
According to a report in Barron’s, digital sensor developer OmniVision Technologies will be supplying CMOS image sensors for the next-generation iPad, expected to launch in the first quarter of 2011. Citing a brief research note from investment firm Detweller Fenton, the report suggests that the new iPad will ship with both a rear-facing 5 MP and front-facing VGA camera and is expected to support FaceTime video calling. Detweller indicates that it expects that Apple will build 2.5 million second-generation iPad units in the first quarter. OmniVision also currently produces the CMOS sensors for the iPhone 4, and the Detweller note expects that with the release of the second-generation iPad and Verizon iPhone, Apple will account for nearly a third of OmniVision’s overall chip demand. [via Mac Rumors]
Namco Networks America has released a major update to Pac-Man Championship Edition for the iPhone and iPod touch including all of the expansion pack content—30 levels and 120 missions—now bundled within the app at no additional charge. Previously the game included only a handful of levels, requiring users to purchase additional levels and missions from within the application. The expansion pack Challenge Mode is also now included instead of requiring a separate purchase. Further, the update adds integration with Apple’s new Game Center in iOS 4.1 providing leaderboards for all 15 Championship mode stages and twenty unlockable achievements and also introduces new and more intuitive virtual pad controls. Pac-Man Championship Edition is available from the App Store for $5.
Following a report earlier this month that membership club Costco would be ceasing sales of iPods after being denied the opportunity to sell the iPad, iLounge has now been informed that the warehouse retailer will also be ending sales of all discounted iTunes cards this coming Saturday, October 30th. It is unclear at this time whether this applies to all Costco locations worldwide, but the source suggests that it is expected to affect all North American locations. The report also confirms that current stock of iPods will continue to be sold until inventories are exhausted, however barring a future change in policy iPods will no longer be available from Costco after the current stock has been sold.
According to a recent report by IDC, Apple has joined the ranks of the world’s five largest mobile phone vendors, surpassing Research in Motion (RIM) by 1.7 million units and bumping Sony Ericsson off the list for the first time since IDC began tracking mobile phone market share in 2004. The report indicates that the worldwide mobile phone market grew 14.6% in the third-quarter of 2010, representing the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth with vendors shipping 340.5 million phones in total last quarter compared to 297.1 million units in the third quarter of 2009. The IDC report goes on to note that the smartphone category is growing rapidly and is at least partly responsible for driving the rapid expansion of mobile phone adoption worldwide.
Apple is the second smartphone-only vendor to place in the top five ranking. RIM has already spent three quarters on the IDC leaderboard and both companies posted the highest growth rates among the top five vendors this past quarter. The report attributes Apple’s record performance to the introduction of the iPhone 4 in 17 new countries last quarter, and notes that this performance came despite the July “Antennagate” controversy around reception problems.
Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s WorldWide Mobile Phone Tracker notes that “The entrance of Apple to the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market. Vendors that aren’t developing a strong portfolio of smartphones will be challenged to maintain and grow market share in the future.” IDC expects the worldwide mobile phone market to be driven primarily by smartphone growth over the next few years, expecting that market to grow 55% year over year. The full report is available from IDC’s web site.
Ballistic has debuted the Ballistic SG, a new slim protective case for the iPhone 4. The case provides a slim yet durable form factor, integrating an outermost TPU layer for shock absorption, co-molded to a middle layer made of impact-resistant polycarbonate. The inner layer of the case of made of soft silicone with strong Ballistic Corners to absorb the shock of a drop. The Ballistic SG sells for $30 and is available in black or a two-tone black/red design and can be purchased from AT&T retail locations or directly from Ballistic’s web site.
Apple may be working on a new integrated micro-SIM card solution for a future iPhone model, according to a report from GigaOM. Citing sources inside European carriers, the report states that Apple has been working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create a SIM card that will be integrated directly into the iPhone and can be activated on any carrier. Customers could then simply buy the iPhone and use an App Store application to sign up for service with their carrier of choice instead of having to purchase a carrier-specific micro-SIM card separately. SIM cards have traditionally been tied to individual carriers, whereas an embedded SIM would accept activation from any carrier rather than containing hard-coded carrier information. Apple is already unique among phone manufacturers in requiring iPhone activation via iTunes and this could be leveraged to provide the same security and carrier activation features without requiring the need for a removable SIM, effectively allowing the integrated SIM chip to be programmed with carrier information during the activation process. Other advantages of removable SIM cards such as international roaming and transferring between devices could likely also be addressed through an on-device app or as part of the iTunes activation process. Neither Apple nor Gemalto have yet responded to any requests for comment.
Apple has removed the white iPhone 4 from the iPhone ordering page on its Online Store. This move follows a report late Tuesday that Apple would be delaying the iPhone 4 until Spring 2011, sparking additional rumours alleging that Apple may in fact have cancelled the white model of the iPhone 4 entirely. The reported Spring 2011 delay would have pushed the white iPhone 4 release very close to Apple’s typical early summer release dates for new iPhone models. Apple has provided no comment on this change and notably the white iPhone 4 still continues to appear in product descriptions and promotional images, as well as Apple’s iPhone 4 Specifications and iPhone 4 Gallery. [via Mac Rumors]
Business Insider is reporting that Apple will be hosting an event for select iOS developers in California next week. Citing industry sources, the report indicates that the event is scheduled to begin next Tuesday and run for three days, however there has been no public information released by Apple regarding such an event, and no details are available on who has been invited to attend or how big the event is expected to be. Business Insider speculates that the event will be a more intimate version of the iPhone Tech Talks that Apple hosted last year and is intended to provide some additional face time and hands-on development help with Apple engineers. The timing of the event suggests that it may be connected to Apple’s expected release of iOS 4.2 next month, although the company has not provided any new official details on iOS 4.2 since its September 1st Music Event.
Voting in our 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards is coming to a close tonight, marking the last few hours to get your votes in. Be sure to cast your vote today for your favorites from the year’s top products and developers among Apple’s best new digital media product, iPad/iPhone/iPod Accessory Developer, iOS Application Developer, and iOS Game Developer. Results will be featured in our upcoming 2011 Buyers’ Guide, debuting on November 1st, 2010.
With the end of Deutsche Telekom’s iPhone exclusivity in Germany, Apple has begun selling the iPhone directly from its Online Store in that country both contract-free and unlocked. This mirrors how Apple has been selling the iPhone in other countries such as Canada where multiple carrier options are available. German customers can now purchase the 8GB iPhone 3GS for €519, and the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4 for €629 and 739€, respectively. Unlike some of the other countries, however, Apple will not be supplying micro-SIM cards for iPhones ordered directly from the Apple Online Store in Germany, instead directing customers to obtain a micro-SIM directly from their cellular provider of choice. Further, Vodafone and O2 have also now begun selling the iPhone directly in Germany alongside Deutsche Telekom, and Apple’s German web site now directs customers to all three of these carriers for contract iPhone purchases or micro-SIM cards.
ABC has released an update to its ABC News application for the iPad adding new features for the 2010 U.S. Elections. ABC News 1.2 provides the ability to see live results for both Senate and Congressional elections displayed on a U.S. map as they come in. The update also adds a new “What if” game that allows users to interact with a map of the U.S. and tap on States and Congressional Districts to turn them red or blue and see how their guesses will impact the balance of power. A Settings section has also been added where users can choose a default launch view, turn shuffle on and off and choose whether to show the info screen. The new version also improves performance, wireless detection and adds more content to the globe view. ABC News for iPad is available from the App Store as a free download.
KainosAgora has released an update to TweetAgora adding more UI improvements and the ability to share Agoras with other Twitter users. TweetAgora is a Twitter client designed to allow Twitter users to get the most out of their Twitter streams by providing advanced filtering and aggregation features and the ability to create “Agoras”—custom feeds based on lists, keywords and people. TweetAgora 2.1 now allows users to share their Agoras with other users by posting them right in the Twitter stream with a #SharedAgora hashtag. Other TweetAgora users can import these Agoras directly into TweetAgora simply by tapping on the appropriate link. Users can also now customize which actions are performed when swiping a tweet in the timeline. The new version also provides a more dark-leather style UI, gap detection in Agoras and improved integration with Instapaper and Read It Later as well as performance improvements and bug fixes. TweetAgora is available from the App Store as a free download. The free version allows users to filter up to three keywords and three people, create up to three Agoras and load up to 150 tweets in a timeline. Users can upgrade to the paid version for $5 via in-app purchase to remove these limitations and add support for multiple accounts.
Apple has announced yet another delay for the white iPhone 4, reports Reuters, noting that the company provided no details as to why the product remains unavailable. The white iPhone, which has variously reported to have suffered production delays related to light leakage and miscoloration of glass or button components, is now scheduled to be released in Spring 2011—curiously just before what has annually been a Summer refresh of iPhone hardware. It was previously delayed from June until July, then from July until late 2010, before receiving the latest setback. “We’re sorry to disappoint customers waiting for the white iPhone again,” Apple’s Trudy Muller told Reuters, without making further comment.
Griffin has debuted two new stands designed for the iPad and other tablet devices. The Tablet Stand ($30) is a simple, lightweight stand similar in design to Griffin’s earlier A-Frame Tabletop Stand but constructed from lighter materials. The Tablet Stand can hold the iPad upright in either portrait or landscape view for reading, watching videos or viewing pictures or can be laid down to hold the iPad at an angle appropriate for desktop or tabletop use. A built-in soft cushion cradles the iPad and leaves room for cables.
The Studio Stand ($50) provides an integrated case and display stand. Made from durable polycarbonate, the casing protects the back and sides of the iPad with easy access to the Dock Connector, volume controls and headphone jack. The integrated stand swings into place to hold the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode. Both stands are available now from major retailers or directly from Griffin Technology’s Web site.
PBS has released a new application allowing users to stream PBS content to their iPad. PBS for iPad provides access to both current programs and a variety of content from the PBS archives as well as access to local PBS station schedules from within the app. The application provides access to classic PBS shows such as Masterpiece Theatre and Julia Child as well as some new content that has been created specifically for the iPad version. Users can also pause shows while watching and resume them later from where they left off. PBS for iPad is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download. [via TUAW]
Apple has extended its free personal engraving and signature gift wrapping services to online iPad purchases. Exclusive to the Apple Online Store, the personal engraving service allows buyers to add a personal laser-engraved message to the back of their iPad consisting of up to two lines of approximately 30 characters each. Users are prompted to add their engraving during the checkout process and can see a preview of what their message will look like on the back of the iPad. As with the iPod service, adding a personal engraving will increase shipping times slightly and engraved iPads are not eligible for Apple’s normal return policy. Apple is also offering its signature gift wrapping service for iPad purchases as well; for an extra $5 users can have the iPad delivered in a signature gift box along with a personalized greeting card and red ribbon. Buyers can also add a free gift message to the packing slip. Personal engraving and signature gift wrapping services are available only for orders from the Apple Online Store; these services may not be available in all countries where the iPad is sold.