Apple overnight made some modest changes to its website design. As noted by Mac Rumors, the new design sports a dark navigation bar, a slight pattern to the background at the top of the homepage, and new pop- and slide-in animations for its product pages, including the main Mac and iPod pages. Interestingly, the report notes that several reports from last night—when the online Apple Store were down due to the design change—suggested that the outage was due to the addition of the white iPhone 4 to the store, which turned out not to be the case.
SpeechTrans has released an update to its series of voice language translation applications adding a new feature that allows SpeechTrans users to communicate with FaceBook or SpeechTrans friends around the world using voice-recognition translation. The SpeechTrans applications leverage Nuance’s speech recognition technology to allow users to speak words or phrases into their iOS device which are then translated and spoken back in a specified alternate language. The new Facebook Voice Translation Chat feature now allows SpeechTrans users to conduct online speech translated conversations with other users around the world in their native languages via Facebook Chat. Supported input languages include U.S. English, U.K. English, Spanish, French and German which can be translated into English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian and Polish. SpeechTrans is available in several language-specific editions with bi-directional language versions for $10 and one-way language versions for $6. A SpeechTrans Ultimate Edition includes support for all available languages and sells for $20. Lite editions are also available for $1. SpeechTrans provides unlimited text-to-speech translations and a limited number of speech recognition transcriptions depending on the version; additional speech recognition transcriptions may be purchased from within the app. Note that 3G or Wi-Fi Internet connectivity is required to use the application as speech recognition and translation is performed by an online server.
Verizon has revealed that iPhone owners will need to pay an extra fee in order to use the Personal Sharing feature of their handsets. Speaking with Macworld, Brenda Raney, Verizon Wireless’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications, said the feature will cost users an extra $20 per month on top of required voice and data plans, the same cost that applies to current Verizon smartphone owners. Notably, the feature comes with its own 2GB monthly data pool with overages charged at $20/1GB, unlike AT&T’s $20 tethering charge, which uses the data customers have already paid for. Announced at the Verizon iPhone event earlier this month, the Personal Hotspot feature will allow iPhone users to share their 3G connections over Wi-Fi with up to five devices; Verizon Wireless will launch the iPhone 4 on February 10.
Apple has posted its latest iPad television advertisement online. Like its prior “iPad is…” commercials, the new spot—entitled “iPad is Iconic”—continues the trend of showing the iPad being used mostly in front of a white background, utilizing a variety of different apps and features. The spot starts with the words “iPad is” on the screen, followed by a different app or feature demonstration, along with a descriptor—including “fresh,” “tickets,” “news,” “stories,” a rolling counter of “60,000+ apps,” “students,” “teachers,” “hollywood,” and “iconic.” As with the prior “iPad is” ads, it features the song “Never Stop” by Gonzales in the background. Apple’s new “iPad is Iconic” TV ad is available for viewing below in embedded form or on YouTube.
Adobe has released an update to its free Photoshop Express photo editing application for iOS devices adding support for the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. The update also now includes background upload completion on multitasking-capable devices and introduces a faster and more streamlined photo capture and editing workflow. Photoshop Express 1.5 is a universal app and requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 4.2 or later; it is available from the App Store as a free download.
This week’s featured photo is from our iPads Around the World gallery, and shows an iPad in front of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 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 featuring your favorite iPod, iPad, or iPhone and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!
DryCase has debuted its new DryCase Tablet case for the iPad and other tablet devices. The DryCase Tablet is a vacuum-sealed, fully-enclosed waterproof case made from flexible clear material that allows for full use of the iPad while in the case, and also features a three-way headphone jack, a hold handle, and an included hand pump used to create the air tight seal. The new DryCase Tablet for iPad is available now and sells for $60.
Deutsche Bank Equity Research’s Chris Whitmore has said that the company’s recent two-month iPhone pilot was an overwhelming success, according to Finextra. In a note to clients, Whitmore said that pilot involved using iPhones to access corporate email via a secure e-mail application made by Good Technology. Whitmore said using the iPhone “was a fantastic experience as it was easier/faster to access data (touch UI) than on the Blackberry. It was also great to only have to carry one device for personal and corporate email access.” He continued, “after testing corporate email on iPhone for the past few months, there is no going back. We expect a lot of users will feel the same way when iPhones are offered at their workplaces,” adding that he believes his own firm’s trials will “translate into large deployments.” [via 9 to 5 Mac]
Apple plans to include near field communication (NFC) technology in its next versions of the iPhone and iPad in order to support a new mobile payment system, according to a new report. Citing Richard Crone, leader of financial industry adviser Crone Consulting, and Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group who claims to have spoken with Apple engineers working on the project, Bloomberg reports that Apple’s system may be able to tap into existing user information, such as credit card numbers, iTunes account balances, and bank data. “It would make a lot of sense for Apple to include NFC functionality in its products,” Crone said. According to Doherty, Apple could launch the mobile payment service as early as mid-2011, and has already created a prototype payment terminal that would allow small businesses to accept payment from NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads. He added that Apple is considering offering heavy subsidies on the terminal, or even giving it away, in order to encourage faster adoption. Apple hired Benjamin Vigier, a veteran of NFC development, as its new product manager for mobile commerce last August.
A report from Macotakara suggests that a new Japanese-developed painting material is responsible for fixing the white model’s production woes. Citing an unnamed source, the report claims that the new material allows for the thickness of the painted layer to be specified prior to application, which apparently results in better yields and fewer defective products. A separate report from July 2010 indicated that Lens Technology, a small Chinese company responsible for transforming fine raw glass into the final iPhone glass panel, was the cause of the white iPhone’s delay. According to that report, the company couldn’t find the right combination of paint thickness and opacity to allow for attachment of the digitizer while keeping the panel the correct color of white, a claim which would appear to substantiate this new report. The white iPhone 4 has been spotted on the websites and in inventory systems of several iPhone 4 retailers and carriers, suggesting that Apple will be able to hit its previously-announced Spring 2011 timeframe for the launch of the device.
Following appearances in the inventory systems of Vodafone Germany and Best Buy, as well as popping up in AT&T’s Online Account Management System, the white version of the iPhone 4 has now appeared on the websites of Three and Orange in the UK. Notably, neither network is offering specifics on when the elusive model might be available; Three says simply that the “White iPhone 4 is currently unavailable for order online or in-store.” In Apple’s most recent delay notice, it said the handset would be available in “Spring 2011;” the listings found in Best Buy’s system suggested a release date of February 27. [via T3]
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Verizon COO Lowell McAdam has confirmed that the company will offer a $30 unlimited data plan for iPhone users. “I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot,” McAdam said, referring to the large number of AT&T iPhone users who were grandfathered in with unlimited data prior to AT&T’s move to a tiered data pricing scheme last year. The report also notes that anticipation of a Verizon iPhone launch appears to have held back sales during Verizon’s fourth quarter; while analysts were generally happy with the subscriber growth, McAdam wasn’t, saying, “It wasn’t what I hoped it would be.” Verizon Wireless will launch the iPhone 4 on February 10.
Update: McAdam has clarified that the iPhone unlimited data plan will be a temporary offer and said that Verizon will move to tiered data pricing for the iPhone in the “not too distant future.”
U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Paul Luckern said yesterday that Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry devices do not violate a Kodak patent covering a common image preview feature. BusinessWeek reports that while Luckern’s preliminary findings are a setback for Kodak, they are still subject to review by the six-member commission, which has the power to overturn the ruling and ultimately block imports of iPhone and BlackBerry devices that contain cameras. Kodak first sued Apple and RIM in January 2010, alongside filing the aforementioned ITC complaint, prompting Apple to launch a countersuit and ITC complaint of its own against Kodak, claiming patent infringement.
Apple will officially launch the iPad in India on January 28. The Telegraph reports that the iPad will be available in both Wi-Fi-only and 3G versions in the country, with the former running Rs 26,000 (roughly $570) to Rs 37,000 (~$810) depending on capacity, and the latter priced between Rs 33,000 (~$725) and Rs 44,000 (~$965). The report also notes that the iPad will available exclusively from Apple’s Premium Retailers; the Calcutta-based publication notes that there are two such retailers in the city. Apple doesn’t operate any of its own Retail Stores in India.
Apple has launched an official Twitter account for the App Store, its latest iTunes-related Twitter account. According to the description on the account, it will provide featured apps, exclusive offers, and more. As of this writing, the verified account has nearly 90,000 followers, and has seen four updates—one an introductory statement, and three pointing to specific apps. Notably, the account is taking advantage of Apple’s appstore.com domain name, using tw.appstore.com as a URL shortener.
Youbiq has introduced its new Gymbl portable tripod/mount/grip for the iPhone 4. The all-in-one accessory serves as a grip, a portable tripod, and as a tripod mount, featuring a pivoting, panoramic head, and an included hard shell case which is used to attach the iPhone to the device. For use with the Gymbl, the company has also developed an app that connects to a new Youbiq Cloud service which aims to synchronize and archive every photo taken on the iPhone, allowing users to organize and share their photos from the Youbiq Cloud site. Youbiq’s Gymbl portable tripod/mount/grip for iPhone 4 sells for $69 while a standalone tripod adapter and case is available for $49; both are expected to ship in February. The Youbiq app will be available for $3 and will include 2GB of storage on the Youbiq Cloud site, while additional storage will be available in 25GB increments for $25/year.
Google has announced that it has launched a beta version of its Google Cloud Print service for mobile documents and Gmail for mobile. The feature will allow users to print documents from Google Docs, or emails and attachments from Gmail, directly from their browser. The service will require users to connect their printers to Google Cloud Print—something which currently requires a Windows PC—and will be rolling out today and tomorrow for English speaking users in the US. According to Google, the new mobile Cloud Print feature will work on most phones that support HTML5, including devices running iOS 3.0 or later.
South Korean iPhone carrier KT has announced that it has sold more than two million of the devices since its November 2009 launch in the country. The Korea Times reports that two million iPhones were activated in South Korea as of January 20, and that 1.03 million were iPhone 4s, while 977,000 were iPhone 3GS units. According to the report, the iPhone 4 has proven to be nearly twice as popular as its predecessor, and KT claims it is now activating roughly 250,000 iPhone 4 units a month. “The achievement is the result of the combination of the iPhone’s outstanding product quality and KT’s networks, subscription plans and services,” said Pyo Hyun-myung, president of KT’s Mobile Business Group. Interestingly, KT says that most iPhone buyers in South Korea are men in their 20s or 30s, and that nearly 70 percent of its iPhone users live in Seoul or its surrounding metropolitan area.
Following appearances in the inventory systems of Vodafone Germany and Best Buy, a pair of listings for the white iPhone 4 have appeared in AT&T’s Online Account Management system. The listings, pointed to by Boy Genius Report, read as “iPhone 4 - 16GB White” and “iPhone 4 - 32GB White” and offer further evidence that the long-awaited variant may be close to launch. The prior listings in Best Buy’s inventory system listed a release date of February 27, however, it is unclear whether this will be the actual release date, as the 27th is a Sunday and Apple typically launches new products on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday in order to generate larger totals of launch weekend sales.
Apple has hired security expert David Rice to be its new director of global security, according to a new report. Citing multiple unnamed sources, AllThingsD reports that Rice is expected to start at Apple in March; it’s currently unknown exactly what his role will entail. The report describes Rice as a well-respected name in the IT security community, and says he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, received a master’s degree in Information Warfare and Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and spent time as both a Global Network Vulnerability analyst for the National Security Agency and a Special Duty Cryptologic officer for the Navy before authoring the 2007 book Geekonomics: The Real Cost of Insecure Software.