Apple has released an email sent by CEO Steve Jobs to all company employees, stating that he will be taking his second medical leave in the last two years.
At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.
I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.
I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.
Jobs took a medical leave from the company just over two years ago today, during which he received a liver transplant. It is unclear whether the cause of the current leave is a recurrence of or side effect from his prior bout with pancreatic cancer, or some unrelated issue.
New code found within the first iOS 4.3 beta suggests Apple is planning to incorporate the POWERVR SGX543 GPU from Imagination Technologies into an upcoming product or products. Mac Rumors reports that the SGX543 is said to deliver seven million more polygons per second and double the fillrate of the older SGX535 that is found in Apple’s A4 chip. In addition, the new GPU offers support for the Apple-backed OpenCL specification, which allows applications to tap unused GPU processing power for general computing tasks, as well as support for multi-core configurations. Notably, a rumor from late 2009—the chip itself was announced that January—suggested that Sony was interested in using the chip as the graphics processor for its second-generation PSP handheld gaming console, suggesting that Apple and Sony are on a similar path when it comes to portable gaming.
PopCap Games, developer of highly-acclaimed games including Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled 2, has revealed in an e-mail that it “soon” plans to release an iPad-native version of its award-winning Peggle. Following its release on PC and Mac platforms, Peggle was released as a Click Wheel iPod Game where it truly took off, receiving our iPod Game of the Year Award before making its way to the iOS platform as an iPhone and iPod touch version, then adding the semi-sequel Peggle Nights as additional downloadable content. The iPad version would likely follow Plants vs. Zombies in being a standalone “HD” version, using touch-optimized content from the Mac game that was released years ago.
According to a pair of reports out of Europe, Apple has changed its rules regarding how print publishers are allowed to let users access their content from within iOS applications. de Volkskrant reports (Translated Link) that Apple has told publishers it will no longer allow periodicals to bundle free access to the iPad version of the publication with print or online subscriptions. NRC adds (Translated Link) that Apple has given publishers until March 31 to comply with the new rules or risk having their apps removed from the App Store. Both reports note that Apple wants its 30 percent cut of the subscription price, which it does not receive when all payments are handled outside the App Store. Notably, Apple is reportedly working on a new subscription platform for the iPad (and likely other iOS devices as well) which will allow users to sign up for a subscription to a magazine or newspaper and have new content automatically delivered to their device. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to appear on stage with News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch in the coming weeks to announce the new subscription offering alongside News Corp.‘s upcoming iPad-based newspaper The Daily. [via AppleInsider]
Amazon has released an update to its Kindle app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad adding the ability to open and import supported e-book formats. Kindle 2.5 now allows users to open e-book files from sites such as Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive directly from the Safari browser or Mail app using the “Open in” feature in iOS 4. Supported ebook formats can also be transferred to a user’s device via USB using the File Sharing feature in iTunes. The new version also adds the ability to continue downloading books while the app is in the background, improves the image zoom feature and provides a new book indicator and miscellaneous bug fixes. Kindle for iOS is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Task Ave has released an iPhone application aimed at providing task reminders based on a users’ location. Task Ave allows users to easily create reminders that are triggered when the user is within a set proximity of a specific location where something needs to be done. Locations can be added manually or via search and tasks can be added and edited directly on a map view or by using a more traditional list view. The application allows users to choose the proximity at which they wish to be notified from 500m and 13km and users can opt for either GPS tracking or simplified cell tower tracking to conserve battery. Task reminders can be disabled by location and users can configure the app to remove completed tasks automatically. Task Ave is available from the App Store for $3.
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Speaking in an interview with BusinessWeek, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg made several comments relating to Apple, the iPhone, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Asked whether he thought Apple made unreasonable demands when it was shopping the first iPhone, Seidenberg replied, “No. That was all part of the sort of mating dance they were going through. But most of that [was] used not against us, but used against the carriers they ended up signing with, all right? So no, I didn’t think the terms were all that serious because we were never in the running.” Seidenberg also revealed that he personally called Steve Jobs and went to visit him about the possibility of bringing the iPhone to Verizon; Lowell McAdam, Verizon Wireless’ president and COO, also made calls and visits to Apple COO Tim Cook in hopes of securing a relationship with the company.
“In terms of Steve Jobs, I think this is just another arrow in his quiver,” Seidenberg said of Apple’s CEO. “He’s done a great job at innovating, and he’s got a product that people feel like they want to carry. And we did want to carry the iPhone. I would also make this point: We’re further along in 4G than others are. So I think this decision, from Apple’s standpoint, is also very strategic because they get to establish a relationship with us early in their cycles to take advantage of the 4G stuff that’s going to come out over the next 12 months.”
Apple has launched a new 10 Billion App Countdown promotion to celebrate the downloading of the ten billionth app from the App Store. “As of today, nearly 10 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store worldwide,” reads the promotion’s web page. “Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 10 billionth app, and you could win a US $10,000 iTunes Gift Card. Just visit the App Store, and download what could be your best app yet.” Customers are limited to 25 entries per day, and Apple is providing a free entry form for those who would like to enter without making a purchase or performing a download. The promotion will end after the download of the 10 billionth app; for more information, see Apple’s official rules.
News Corp. and Apple have delayed the debut of the former’s new iPad newspaper, The Daily, in order to polish the new subscription platform that will be used to deliver the paper. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the digital newspaper was supposed to be unveiled next Wednesday by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Apple CEO Steve Jobs at a special event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the launch has been delayed by weeks, and not months, according to the report. “The app and the service work, it’s just getting them to talk to each other that needs more time,” said a person familiar with the matter. News Corp. confirmed the delay but declined to comment beyond that. Once released, Apple’s new subscription platform will allow customers to sign up for a subscription to a periodical via the App Store and get the publication delivered automatically to their iPad each time a new issue is published, instead of needing to purchase each issue individually either as a separate app or through in-app purchases.
Shure has introduced a new pair of earphones and two new pairs of headphones at the 2011 NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA. The SE215 Sound Isolating Earphone features a single Dynamic MicroDriver, a detachable cable, and includes three pairs of black sleeves, three pairs of soft flex sleeves, and a carrying case. It will be available in clear or translucent black and is expected to sell for around $100. The SRH550DJ Professional DJ Headphones feature 50mm drivers for extended bass, a super-aural design for better isolation, an adjustable, collapsible headband, an included 6.3mm adapter and an included carrying bag. Finally, the SRH940 Professional Reference Headphones promise accurate frequency response, a collapsible, lightweight design, a padded headband, and include a 6.3mm adapter, two detachable cables—straight and coiled—a replacement set of velour ear pads, and a zippered hard carrying case. Shure’s SRH550DJ and SRH940 headphones are expected to sell for $100 and $300, respectively; all three new models will be available this Spring. [via Engadget]
Akai has debuted its new SynthStation49 keyboard with built-in iPad dock. Designed specifically for use with the iPad, the SynthStation49 features a 49 full-size velocity-sensitive keys, pitch and modulation wheels, an adjustable-angle charging iPad dock, a USB port for connecting to a Mac or PC, the ability to function as a traditional MIDI controller, professional 0.25-inch outputs, nine backlit MPC-style drum pads, and full transport buttons. In addition, it works with the company’s SynthStation software for iOS, offering direct in-app MIDI recording, and is also iOS CoreMIDI compatible, allowing it to be used with a wide variety of other iOS music apps. Pricing and Availability have yet to be announced. [via MusicRadar]
Four new image files found within the first iOS 4.3 beta support the idea that the iPad 2 will have at least one camera capable of both still photo and video capture, while also suggesting that the second-generation device’s screen will sport the same resolution as its predecessor’s. 9 to 5 Mac reports that two images depicting the same shutter screen as found on iPhone and iPod touch—in landscape and portrait orientation—have been found; the new images are labeled as being for the iPad, and not for any other product. Two additional images are used to indicate an empty still photo or video camera roll, and are likewise labeled for iPad. Notably, the camera shutter images are 1024x768 in size, suggesting that Apple plans to keep the same screen resolution in the second-generation iPad as it used in the first.
New changes found in the Apple TV Software 4.3 beta suggest Apple is finally synchronizing the device’s Software and iOS Build numbers, while also tweaking the design of its on-screen keyboards. In the new beta, both the Apple TV Software and iOS Build Versions are listed as 4.3; previously, these two numbers were not the same, leading to confusion as to whether the update should be referred to by its Software or iOS Build version number. In addition, the beta of Software 4.3 features a new on-screen keyboard design, dividing the prior options into three six-by-seven grids—one for lower case letters and numbers, one for upper case letters and numbers, and one for symbols—and users can toggle between the new keyboards using the remote’s play/pause button. The new design should cut down on the number of button presses required to enter information on the device. Apple released the first beta version of Apple TV Software 4.3 to paid developers yesterday; it is unknown when the software and the companion iOS 4.3 update for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch will be released.
Unlike prior releases of Apple’s iOS operating system for iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad devices, the iPhone 3G and second-generation iPod touch were notably absent from the list of devices for the beta version of iOS 4.3. While no official announcement has been made on the subject, it is likely that Apple has decided not to release further OS updates for the two devices, which previously missed out on key features added to iOS 4. The iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G were left out on new iOS 4.0 features like multitasking and Home screen backgrounds, then didn’t receive support for AirPrint; the iPhone 3G was snubbed with the launch of Game Center and AirPlay, and exhibited crippling slowdowns in performance with iOS 4.
Verizon Wireless is ending its “New Every Two” and early upgrade programs ahead of the iPhone 4’s launch. Smart Money, citing confirmation from Verizon officials, reports that the New Every Two program, which offered Verizon customers a credit of $30 to $100 toward a new phone every two years, will end on January 16. Existing customers will be able to use any existing credit after that time period, but will not be re-enrolled in the program. The end of the early upgrade program, which allowed some customers to upgrade their phones at discounted rates as early as 13 months into a two-year contract, will see those same customers waiting 20 months to get the new-customer price on handsets.
Further digging into the code of the newly released iOS 4.3 beta has revealed a new MobileMe feature, as well as device keys for unannounced products. Mac Rumors reports that settings for a new feature called “Find My Friends” has been found. The strings appear to be associated with the Settings app and are related to MobileMe, suggesting Apple is planning to launch a MobileMe-based competitor to location-based services like Loopt and Google Latitude. Engadget, meanwhile, has discovered device keys for two next-generation iPhones—labeled iPhone4,1 and iPhone 4,2—as well as three next-generation iPads, labeled iPad2,1, iPad2,2, and iPad2,3. The article speculates that the new iPhone keys are for CDMA and GSM variants of the fifth-generation iPhone, while the iPad keys include CDMA and GSM variants of the iPad 3G, along with a Wi-Fi-only second-generation unit.
Apple has released iOS 4.3 beta 1, the first beta version of its next major point release for iOS, to its paid developers. According to notes accompanying the release, the beta includes a pre-release version of future Apple TV Software so that developers can test AirPlay functionality with their 4.3 apps, meaning that users should be able to send video from apps or websites to the Apple TV under the new software. A prior report also indicated that the Personal Hotspot Internet sharing feature debuting on the Verizon iPhone 4 will make its way to other models under iOS 4.3, although it is unclear whether the functionality is included in this update. Separate beta versions of iOS 4.3 for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch are available as downloads for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.
Update: TUAW reports that the new beta also includes support for new four- and five-finger gestures on the iPad. “This beta release contains a preview of new Multi-Touch gestures for iPad,” reads Apple’s developer page for iOS 4.3. “You can use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen; swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar; and swipe left or right between apps. We are providing this preview before releasing them to the public to understand how these gestures work with your apps. Test them and give us your feedback on the Apple Developer Forums.”
Update x2: Mac Rumors notes that the new beta also offers an option in the Settings app to choose whether the iPad’s side switch acts as a screen rotation lock or as a mute switch. The iPad originally shipped with the switch acting as a screen rotation lock, but Apple changed its behavior in iOS 4.2.
H2O Audio is now shipping its new Amphibix Fit Universal Waterproof Armband for the iPhone, iPod touch, and other large media devices. The Fit is 100% waterproof, sweatproof and weatherproof, using the company’s patented LatchTight locking closure and SealTight headphone connector to provide a secure seal up to 12 feet underwater. Other features include an adjustable, breathable, and removable Velcro armband, a StableFit buoy to allow for air circulation between the case and device and to ensure the case will float, and a ClearTouch pouch that allows for operation of the device both in and out of the water. The Amphibix Fit Waterproof Armband is available now and sells for $60.
Lenntek has introduced its new VintageVinyl case for the iPhone 4. Made from hard polycarbonate, the case features finely machined record grooves on the rear of the case to make it look and feel like an actual vinyl record, four built-in “ScreenStilts” that keep the iPhone 4’s screen protected when placed face-down, and two included customizable record label stickers. Notably, the company claims the case’s port, control, and camera cutouts are compatible with the small variations in the ring/silent switch and volume button placement present in the CDMA version of the iPhone 4, while remaining compatible with existing GSM models. Lenntek’s VintageVinyl case for the iPhone 4 is available now and sells for $35.