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New for iPad 2: Innopocket, NYC, Killspencer, Sena

Companies are continuing to announce a variety of new cases for the iPad 2, including Innopocket, NYC Subway Line, Killspencer, and Sena Cases. Innopocket has introduced its EliteFoilo Carbon Fiber iPad 2 Case, a form-fitting case comprised of two rear carbon fiber shells, one for the rear of the device, and one to cover the screen. The two pieces are joined by a unique hinge that rotates 360 degrees, allowing the top panel to fold completely under the bottom, and allows the two pieces to serve as a stand for video viewing or typing. It will ship next month, and is available for pre-order for $199.

NYC Subway Line has debuted its new case for the iPad and iPad 2. The neoprene case features a full color NYC Subway Map print on the exterior, a zippered closure, and a token zipper pull. It sells for $32. Killspencer has introduced its iPad 2 Leather Carrying Case, which offers an inner neoprene lining, RIRI Aquazip waterproof zippers, and external pockets for carrying an iPhone, notebook, business cards, and accessories. The leather version sells for $189; versions made from waxed twill or historical fabrics are available for $150.

Sena cases has unveiled an entire line of leather cases, including the Ultraslim pouch ($60) in two versions—one for a bare iPad 2, and one for the iPad 2 with a Smart Cover—the Folio case ($100) offering an integrated leather stand, the Florence ($80), a slim case with a book-like design and soft velvet lining, the Collega ($150) briefcase-style case, the slim Executive Sleeve ($100) portfolio-style case, and the Sacola ($120) tote-style case with a dual texture design. All of Sena’s cases are available for order or pre-order now.

Twitter removes QuickBar from iOS app

Responding to negative feedback from users, Twitter has released an update to its iOS app removing the QuickBar feature. Originally debuted earlier this month, the QuickBar was intended to help users discover content outside of their normal follower channels by displaying popular trending topics at the top of the timeline. The new feature prompted a huge negative response almost immediately after its release, however, with many calling it offensive and adopting the term “dickbar” as a euphemism to describe their feelings about it.

In a blog posting today, Twitter Creative Director Doug Bowman noted that the QuickBar was a new feature the company was experimenting with and that it was “originally conceived to help users discover what’s happening in the broader world beyond people they already follow.” Bowman explains that the team had considered using the bar as a means for in-app notifications of new activity such as DMs and mentions and that the goal was to connect users “to what’s most meaningful to them.” Despite this, however, Bowman indicates that the company has decided to remove the feature rather than continuing to develop it in its current form, stating that “after testing a feature and evaluating its merits, if we learn it doesn’t improve the user experience or serve our mission, we’ll remove that feature.” He goes on to explain that Twitter still feels there are benefits to improving user awareness beyond their own timeline and that the QuickBar showed “incredibly high usage metrics” however the company will be looking at other ways to provide this with a better user experience.

Mix: iPad screens, Samsung expansion, H-W suit, VP exit

Apple has reached a deal with AU Optronics for the latter to supply large amounts of flat panel displays for the iPad 2, according to a new report. Without citing any sources, the Economic Daily News reports that Apple offered three to four times the going rate for the displays, but has managed to secure half of the company’s fifth-generation plant’s capacity, and due to Apple’s rigorous quality demands, the yield rate is only expected to reach 60-70 percent.

Samsung is set to hire 300 engineers and technicians as part of a $3.6 billion expansion of its Austin, TX plant. According to the EE Times, the decision to expand the plant, which previously only made NAND flash memory chips, was made last year. The plant will now also produce logic devices as well, with Apple said to be the primary customer, suggesting that the plant may house production facilities for future versions of Apple’s mobile processors. [via MDN]

Apple is among a group of companies named in a lawsuit by H-W Technology. H-W is claiming that Apple, along with a host of other companies that includes Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, RIM, Samsung, and Verizon, infringes on a patent entitled “Internet Protocol (IP) Phone with Search and Advertising Capability,” which the company claims covers smartphones. H-W is seeking a permanent injunction against the companies, as well as damages.

Allison Johnson, Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing communications, is leaving the company, according to a new report. Citing several unnamed sources, AllThingsD reports that Johnson will be leaving her post sometime during the summer to co-found a new marketing and communications firm with former Facebook PR executive Brandee Barker. Johnson has held her position at Apple since 2005, and previously worked for HP.

Camera+ adds intelligent one-tap adjustments

Taptaptap has added a new intelligent automatic adjustment feature to its popular Camera+ photography app for the iPhone. Dubbed Clarity, the new feature is designed to improve photos by analyzing and making intelligent adjustments to enhance and bring out details in dull photos. Intended as a one-tap solution, Clarity’s smart processing promises to eliminate the need to work with complicated and confusing controls to bring out the best in photos. Additional enhancements in the new 2.2 update include improved access to focus and exposure controls when taking photos, better handling for saving multiple photos to the device’s Camera Roll, improvements to the Pinhole effect and Vintage borders, and several other bug fixes and enhancements. Camera+ is currently available from the App Store for $1.

Doodle Jump adds multiplayer support

Lima Sky has released a major update adding multiplayer functionality to its acclaimed Doodle Jump iOS platform game. In Doodle Jump, players use their device’s tilt controls to bounce their player, Doodle the Doodler from platform to platform up a long sheet of graph paper, picking up jet packs and other bonuses, avoiding obstacles and blasting enemies as they try to reach the highest possible altitude. With the 2.0 update players can now compete with other iOS users via Apple’s Game Center, either challenging their friends or using the Game Center auto-match feature to find competitors. Players race against one another to reach a finish line, with power-ups available only to the first player who reaches them. Players can also easily call for a rematch at the end of a race to attempt to even the score after a close defeat. Doodle Jump for the iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store for $1. The game requires iOS 3.0 or later; multiplayer support requires iOS 4.1, a Wi-Fi connection and a Game Center account. An iPad version is also in the works.

FX Photo Studio adds new Sketches filters, iPad 2 support

MacPhun has released an update to its popular FX Photo Studio photo editor app adding six new professional filters and support for the iPad 2. FX Photo Studio is a creative photo processing application that allows users to easily apply and fine-tune a wide range of photo effects and perform basic editing tasks such as crop, resize, rotate and brightness adjustment. Users can choose from a collection of 187 effects, mixing and matching different effects and making adjustments to create unique results. Frequently used effects and combinations of effects can also be saved as favorites for quick access. The update adds six new cartoon-styled “Sketches” filters developed in collaboration with established artists and adds more precise tuning controls for contrasting, adjusting hues and sharpening filters. FX Photo Studio is available in two versions: FX Photo Studio ($1) for the iPhone and iPod touch and FX Photo Studio HD ($2) for the iPad. Additional effects beyond the built-in set are available via in-app purchase for $1 each.

Apple patent points to charger with integrated battery

A newly published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on chargers with integrated backup battery systems inside. Entitled “Power Adapter with Internal Battery” and filed in September 2009, the patent describes a device charger that contains a battery to provide power to the device when no other power source is available, and a processor for determining how to distribute charge between the charger’s internal battery and the device’s battery. Optional features of the described charger include a “trickle” source of power, such as solar, and wireless technology to allow the processor inside the charger to communicate with the device. Notably, third-parties have released chargers with integrated batteries in the past, for both Apple products and those from other companies. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via AppleInsider]

Nearly 12,000 iPad 2 units sold on eBay in two weeks

Nearly 12,000 iPad 2s were sold on eBay in the two weeks between the device’s U.S. launch and its initial international rollout. Cnet reports that somewhat surprisingly, two-thirds of those—8,000 units—were sold inside of the United States, compared to just 35 percent for the first-generation iPad. The two largest export locations were Russia and Canada, followed by Hong Kong, Japan, and the U.K. The 16GB Wi-Fi model was the most popular, selling for an average price of $697, followed by the 64GB 3G model, which brought in $1,235 on average, a $406 premium over the retail price.

SoftBank promises replacement iPhones for earthquake victims

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has announced via Twitter that the company will be providing free replacement iPhones for users who saw theirs lost or damaged during the recent earthquake and resulting tsunami. According to Engadget, the company will be releasing further details about the offer at a later date. In addition, Son has pledged that all earthquake orphans will receive free phones, along with call costs waived until they reach the age of 18, and, during a recent trip to hard-hit Tamura, said that Softbank will cover a year’s worth of living costs and provide job positions for the 1,200 people being relocated to Takeo, in Saga prefecture.

Path users can now tag Facebook friends

Path has released another small update to its personal photo sharing application improving the Facebook integration introduced in version 1.5 earlier this month. In addition to sharing Path moments on Facebook, users can now tag their Facebook friends directly from within the app. Path originally debuted last fall as a social photo sharing app designed for use among close friends and family and has followed a relatively aggressive update cycle in adding new features and more recently tying into other social networks. The new Facebook integration allows Path users to connect with the world’s largest social network while still preserving the simplicity of sharing moments only with a smaller circle of friends and family. Path remains a free service and the app is available from the App Store as a free download.

eMailGanizer provides intelligent e-mail management

GoodHumans has released an update to eMailGanizer, its application for intelligently organizing and filing e-mail on the iPhone and iPod touch. Designed for users who receive high volumes of e-mail, eMailGanizer analyzes the user’s filing patterns and presents a sorted list of the most relevant folder choices to speed up the process of triaging the inbox and moving messages into folders. The application provides several additional organizational features such as offline full-text e-mail searching, integration with GTD and task managers such as ToodleDo, and the ability to add e-mails and events directly to the iPhone calendar. The latest update adds the ability to view messages organized by thread, keeping entire conversations connected and allowing for quick filing of an entire thread. The threading feature uses a view similar to that of the built-in Mail app however it can display threaded messages across multiple folders. The new version also adds batch operations for deleting and moving messages from any folder, full integration with the iOS Contacts app, and compatibility with Exchange 2010. eMailGanizer is available in two versions: eMailGanizer (Free) is ad-supported; eMailGanizer Pro ($5) removes the ads and provides larger e-mail previews and the ability to view more folders at once. Both versions require iOS 4.2 or later and an IMAP-based e-mail account.

Survey: 30% of Chinese smartphone buyers to buy iPhone

30 percent of Chinese mobile users planning to buy a 3G smartphone as their next phone plan to purchase an iPhone, according to the results of a new survey. An Alphawise/Morgan Stanley survey of 2,029 Chinese mobile users, reprinted by Fortune, found that 88 percent of respondents said they expected their next phones to be smartphones. Price appears to be a major limiting factor for the iPhone in China, however, as 53 percent said they would purchase an iPhone as their next phone were price not a consideration. Still, the iPhone’s 30 percent share among 3G smartphone purchasers was the most of any handset or company.

Apple sets Q2 2011 Earnings Release for April 20

Apple has revealed that it will release its second fiscal quarter results on April 20. As usual, the release will be followed by a conference call to discuss the financial results, which will begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. iLounge will be providing coverage of the call. Notably, Apple may wait until the earnings release to announce sales figures for the iPad 2; in addition, if rumors regarding a later than normal iPhone launch are true, it is possible that some clues could be given during the conference call. Possible component shortages, such as those rumored for iPod batteries and touch panel displays, could also be addressed during the call, possibly making for one of the more interesting calls in recent memory.

Photo of the Week: iPod in Antarctica

Today’s classic image from our iPods Around the World archive shows a first-generation iPod looking across the icy landscape near McMurdo Station on Ross Island, Antarctica.

We’re looking for your great iPad, iPhone, and iPod images to add to our galleries! Springtime shots and anything else you might be able to contribute would be appreciated! So get out there, take some pictures featuring your favorite iPod, iPhone, or iPad and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!

RadioShack requiring AppleCare purchase with iPad 2

RadioShack is requiring customers wishing to purchase iPad 2 units to purchase AppleCare as well, and possibly an accessory as well, iLounge has learned. According to multiple reader reports, the stores are very limited on the stock they are receiving, with one sales associate saying that AppleCare was required with an iPad 2 purchase as it was the only way Apple would allow the company to sell the device. It appears some stores are also requiring the purchase of an accessory, although it is less clear as to whether this is a company-wide policy or something that’s being implemented on a store-by-store basis. RadioShack began selling the iPad 2 at 500 of its stores earlier today. [Thanks, Rob]

Mix: Albums on iPad, Battery supply, Hinge stand, Joule Chroma

Record labels are looking to dedicated iPad apps to expand on the concept of the album, according to a new report. The New York Times reports that Universal recently teamed with a video company to create iPad versions of films about classic albums, with social networking features, while EMI recently released an iPad version of the album Until One by dance group Swedish House Mafia, which for $9.99 includes the album as well as documentary videos, a photo gallery, and writings from the band, all laid out like a coffee table book.

An obscure Japanese chemicals maker is to blame for tight supplies of lithium ion batteries, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The report states that Apple recently called Kureha Corp. to discuss the problem; Kureha enjoys a 70% global market share for a crucial polymer used in lithium ion batteries, but only produces the substance at its factory located in Iwaki, which it was forced to close down following the recent earthquake. The company’s CEO said the situation would accelerate its plans to move more production overseas; it is unsure when the factory will reopen.

William Tang is now accepting Kickstarter pledges for his new Hinge stand for the iPad and iPad 2 (Pictured). Available in two versions—the Classic, made from sustainably harvested birch and leather, and the Crystalline, made from polypropylene—the Hinge sports a simple design that relies on a single hinge and two arms, and can be repositioned to provide a variety of viewing angles. Pledges begin at $25.

Element case has announced a new version of its Joule stand compatible with the iPad 2. Dubbed the Joule Chroma, the new stand mirrors that of the company’s original Joule stand, but offers compatibility with both iPad models, and is available in six anodized colors for $150.

Vimeo releases official iOS app, includes video editing

Vimeo has released an official iPhone application for its online video service. In addition to providing the ability to view and upload videos, the new application provides a complete suite of video editing and management features, including the ability to capture video using the iPhone or fourth-generation iPod touch camera and add titles, transitions, effects and music all from within the app. Edited videos can be saved to the device’s camera roll or uploaded directly to the Vimeo service using a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. Users can also manage their Vimeo content from within the app including viewing and replacing existing videos, editing data such as titles, descriptions and tags and sharing videos with services such as Facebook and Twitter. Videos can viewed online or downloaded and saved to the device’s camera roll and users can browse and search for new videos, manage their Watch Later queue and comment on videos within the app. Vimeo requires an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad 2 and is available from the App Store as a free download.

iSkin debuts Claro for iPhone 4, Claro touch for iPod touch 4G

iSkin has debuted its new Claro and Claro touch cases for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, respectively. Both cases feature a hybrid design with an inner layer of clear hard polycarbonate and an outer layer of soft polymer with embedded Microban antibacterial protection. Other shared features include open access to the headphone jack, cameras, speakers, microphones, and, in the case of the iPhone 4, the ring/silent switch — the opening for which accommodates both GSM and CDMA models — and push-through button coverage for the power and volume buttons. The Claro touch also offers an integrated 30-pin port cover, while the iPhone version features a black integrated camera ring to eliminate unwanted flash glare. iSkin’s Claro and Claro touch cases are available now in clear and sell for $35.

Amazon launches Cloud Drive online music service

Amazon today launched its new Cloud Drive online storage service, alongside a new Cloud Player that allows users to play back music stored using the service. The Cloud Player supports both MP3 and AAC files, and can be accessed from any PC or Mac, as well as from Amazon’s MP3 app for Android; purchases made on Amazon’s MP3 store can be automatically added to the service and do not count against the user’s storage limit. Amazon is offering 5GB of storage for free, with higher storage capacities priced at $1 per GB per year. Notably, customers who purchase an album from the Amazon MP3 store receive 20GB of free storage for one year. The service makes Amazon the first among itself, Google, and Apple with a cloud-based music service; Apple is reportedly working on a such a service for introduction later this year.

Nokia files second ITC patent claim against Apple

Nokia has filed a second patent infringement claim against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), after the same body ruled in Apple’s favor regarding a prior complaint. On Friday, Judge James Gildea of the ITC said in an initial determination that Apple did not violate five Nokia patents, leaving it to the commission as a whole to either uphold or throw out the decision. “Nokia does not agree with the ITC’s initial determination,” the company said as it waits to see the details of the ruling. Barron’s reports that Nokia’s new complaint focuses on seven patents relating to multi-tasking operating systems, data synchronization, positioning, call quality and use of Bluetooth accessories. “Our latest ITC filing means we now have 46 Nokia patents in suit against Apple, many filed more than 10 years before Apple made its first iPhone,” said a Nokia head of IP, Paul Melin. “Nokia is a leading innovator in technologies needed to build great mobile products and Apple must stop building its products using Nokia’s proprietary innovation.”

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