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iPad 2 Cases: XtremeMac, Hard Candy, Scosche, more

As expected, companies are continuing to announce new iPad 2 cases prior to the device’s launch this Friday. XtremeMac‘s new lineup includes the Tuffwrap Shine, a form-fitting soft case, the Microshield hard plastic case, the Thin Sleeve with integrated eject tab, and the Tuffshield screen protector in glossy and anti-glare finishes. XtremeMac’s new lineup of accessories for the iPad 2 will be shipping at launch.

Hard Candy’s new iPad 2 offerings include the $40 Street Skin TPU case with a hinged lid and the $45 Candy Convertible folio-style case in faux nubuck; the company’s $50 Bubble Sleeve for iPad is also compatible for the iPad 2. All three are available for order now. Scosche’s lineup for the iPad 2 includes the $50 foldiO p2, a folio-style case with built-in stand, the $40 glosSEE p2, a flexible rubber case, the $30 snapShield p2 hard polycarbonate case, and the $20 klearCoat p2, $25 satinShield p2, and $50 privaSee p2 screen protectors. Scosche’s new iPad 2 accessories will be available later this month.

Case-mate will offer a variety of cases for the iPad 2, including the square-edged Simple case, the Pop! and Clario cases with integrated stands, the form-fitting Gelli case, and the Venture, Leo, and Versant folio-style cases, as well as an anti-fingerprint screen protector. Case-mate’s new accessories are listed as coming soon. NLU Products has announced that it is now taking pre-orders for its BodyGuardz and ScreenGuardz products for the iPad 2, with prices ranging from $20-$30. For a limited time, customers can receive a 15 percent discount on their order by using the code “iPad2” at checkout.

Case Closed is now taking orders for its new iPad 2 cases, which include felt sleeves in grey and charcoal for £23, or roughly $37, as well as sleeves with elastic ties to hold the iPad securely in the case for £29, or roughly $47. Finally, Nedrelow is also taking orders for its iPad 2 sleeves, which are made from wool felt, available in top- or side-loading designs and in three different colors, and priced at $39 each; Nedrelow’s sleeves will ship on March 16.

Apple e-mail tries to create iPad 2 lines

Apple has sent out an email to customers urging them to line up to buy the iPad 2 on Friday. “Be the first to get the next iPad,” reads the email. “The Apple Store is the best place to experience iPad. Our Specialists will show you around the features, help you choose the perfect model, and set everything up just the way you like. So you’ll be up and running before you leave the store.” Below the text is a link to Apple’s Retail page, with a store locator feature. Unlike prior launches, Apple does not appear to be offering any pre-orders or reservations for the iPad 2, instead forcing users to either wait in line at an Apple Store—or one of its retail partners, which include Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Sam’s Club—or order online for later delivery. While the draw of an Apple launch may be exciting to some, iLounge suggests based on past line-up experiences that readers skip the potentially lengthy lines at Apple’s retail stores, and instead secure units via online ordering. Having to line up in the middle of a work week, particularly for an incrementally improved device, will be unnecessarily inconvenient for all but the hardest-core Apple fans.

Mix: Instant Previews, iPhone 64GB, UK iPad 3G, TiVo

Google has announced that its Instant Previews feature is now available on select mobile devices, including those running iOS 4.0 or later. The feature places a magnifying glass icon next to each search result, allowing the user to hop between traditional results and visual search results that provide a swipe-through gallery of site snapshots. To take advantage of the new feature, simply do a Google search from any iOS 4.x device.

M.I.C. Gadget has obtained what it claims is a “engineered prototype” iPhone leaked from Foxconn’s factory in Shenzhen. The device, which is in a working state and contains 64GB of internal storage, is physically similar to the iPhone 4 prototype photographed by Gizmodo last year. As Mac Rumors notes, the device’s serial number indicates that it was produced in early 2010, meaning it is more likely evidence that Apple considered releasing a 64GB iPhone 4 model than evidence of any future 64GB iPhone model from Apple.

A number of UK mobile carriers have announced their plans for the iPad 2. According to posts on the Twitter accounts of T-Mobile UK and Orange UK PR Manager Conor Maples, both T-Mobile and Orange—collectively known as Everything Everywhere—will be selling the iPad 2 in the UK once it’s made available in the country “later this month.” O2, meanwhile, has confirmed that will not be stocking the iPad 2, but will allow customers to use the carriers’ Pay & Go Mobile Broadband iPad tariffs. [via Macworld UK]

TiVo is considering offering live streaming of content from the company’s DVR boxes to the iPad, according to a recent survey. Engadget reports that several readers have reported receiving surveys from TiVo in which they’re asked their opinion on an option to “stream live TV, DVR recordings and TV shows from a cable company’s On Demand library to one’s iPad.” As is typical with surveys, the wording of this question is in no way confirmation that such a feature is coming, but is instead evidence that the company is exploring the possibility.

Soulver adds currency conversions, Dropbox sync

Acqualia has released an update to Soulver, its notepad calculator for the iPhone and iPod touch adding the ability to handle currency conversions and sync saved work to Dropbox along with a number of other enhancements. Soulver is a calculator app that uses a notepad design to allow users to perform calculations in a spreadsheet style rather than using a traditional calculator view. Users can write out entire mathematical problems, see results as they type and edit expressions in-line to correct mistakes or change calculations. Soulver 2.0 adds a new currency keyboard for performing conversions and calculations across multiple currencies. Users can quick insert, change, hide and reorder currencies as well as adding and subtracting across different currencies. The new version also provides the ability to share work with the iPad or Mac version of Soulver using Dropbox, adds a variables keyboard for accessing frequently used numbers, a programmers keyboard for calculations in hexadecimal and binary and adds several new functions, formatting options and settings. Soulver 2.0 is available from the App Store for a current price of $1. An iPad version, Soulver for iPad is sold separate for $6.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2.1 ahead of iOS 4.3

Less than a week after releasing iTunes 10.2, Apple has released iTunes 10.2.1, the latest version of its media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.2.1 offers the ability to sync with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3, as well as improved Home Sharing, letting users browse and play from their iTunes libraries with Home Sharing on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3. Notably, these are virtually the same features listed for iTunes 10.2, indicating that this may be simply a bug fix release. iTunes 10.2.1 is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility or as a direct download from

Tekkeon intros TekCharge MP1860A for iPad, iPod, iPhone

Tekkeon has introduced its new TekCharge MP1860A, a dual-port battery pack for the iPad, iPod, iPhone, and other USB-charging devices. The MP1860A features two USB ports that automatically detect how much power the connected device can receive, allowing it to provide a full 2.1 Amps for fast iPad charging while also powering a second 5V device. It also features a 4,400 mAh battery, a third USB port for charging, an included USB to 30-pin charging cable, a myCharger USB power adapter, mini and micro USB adapter tips, a retractable USB input/output cable, an integrated emergency flashlight, and a color-coded LED to indicate remaining capacity. Tekkeon’s TekCharge MP1860A is available now and sells for $70.

Adobe releases ‘Wallaby’ Flash to HTML conversion tool

Adobe has released a new experimental Flash to HTML conversion tool. Codenamed “Wallaby,” the application “converts the artwork and animation contained in Adobe Flash Professional (FLA) files into HTML.” Adobe’s Wallaby page notes that the application allows users “to reuse and extend the reach of [their] content to devices that do not support the Flash runtimes. Once these files are converted to HTML, [they] can edit them with an HTML editing tool, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, or by hand if desired.” Notably, the tool would allow web developers to create sites in Adobe Flash and automatically have them converted to iOS-friendly HTML format. The prerelease version of Wallaby is available now as a free download for Mac and Windows.

SK Telecom to launch iPhone 4 on March 16

SK Telecom has announced that it will launch the iPhone 4 in South Korea on March 16. Reuters reports that the carrier, South Korea’s largest, will become the second carrier in the country to offer the iPhone, as it has been available from rival carrier KT Corp since late 2009. KT announced earlier this year that it had sold more than two million iPhones since the device’s launch in South Korea.

Philips, Pioneer announce new AirPlay-friendly audio products

Both Philips and Pioneer have announced new AirPlay-compatible audio products, helping to expand the range of options for consumers looking for equipment to use with the wireless media streaming protocol. Philips’ new Fidelio SoundSphere system features two separate speakers with a curved design, “free-floating” tweeters on top, an included, separate Dock, and built-in Wi-Fi with AirPlay support. The Fidelio SoundSphere system will be available in Europe from May 11 and will sell for €799, or roughly $1,100. Pioneer, meanwhile, has announced that the company’s VSX-1021 7.1-channel home theater receiver, which connects to networks via Ethernet or an optional AS-WL300 wireless LAN adapter, will support AirPlay streaming, as well as the company’s upcoming free Air Jam and iControlAV2 apps. Pioneer says the VSX-1021, which will retail for $549, is the first of eight AirPlay devices planned for 2011.

Finally, JBL has posted a dedicated page for its upcoming On Air Wireless speaker system. Outed by the FCC last December, the system features a full color display for displaying album art and song/artist information, physical playback controls, three JBL transducers with “360-degree HALO” acoustics, a clock with dual alarms, a digital FM radio with 10 presets, and a USB port for firmware updates. No price or release date has yet been announced.

iOS 4.3 to arrive at 10 PT, Hotspot limit carrier-defined?

A new report suggests that Apple plans to release iOS 4.3 around 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time/1:00 p.m. Eastern Time today. Citing an anonymous source, BGR reports that the update for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, and iPad will be released later today, and that the new Personal Hotspot feature will be, by default, limited to three wireless connections, but can be expanded to five devices if requested by the carrier. Apple’s iOS 4.3 page notes that the Personal Hotspot feature “requires a supporting hotspot tethering plan from your carrier and works with up to three devices over Wi-Fi, three devices over Bluetooth, and one device over USB,” while being limited to five total connections spread over the three options. For instance, a user could have three devices connected via Wi-Fi, plus two over Bluetooth, or one over Bluetooth and one over USB, or three over Bluetooth and two over Wi-Fi, and so on.

Update: An anonymous source has informed iLounge that in the latest developer release of iOS 4.3, nearly all the carrier plist files have been set to five connections, including AT&T. The only ones that are set to something other than five are O2 Prepaid, O2 Tesco, and Personal_ar, which are all set to one. Notably, the source said that regardless of this setting, the maximum number of Wi-Fi connections is still three.

Update x2: The Loop reports that iOS 4.3 will be released tomorrow, a claim potentially corroborated by a Mac Rumors reader report.

iPad 2 announcement spurs host of parody videos

Last week’s unveiling of the iPad 2 has led to the release of a number of parody videos aimed at the new tablet. While most of the videos—including one from comedian Conan O’ Brien—attempt to poke fun at Apple’s iPad 2 promotional video, another from Norwegian YouTube user Exkild instead apes the device’s possible functionality by having a current-model iMac stand in for the tablet device. Four videos are embedded below; please note that some may contain objectionable content.

H-Squared unveils tvTray for second-generation Apple TV

H-Squared has unveiled its new tvTray mount for the second-generation Apple TV. Made from cast acrylic, the tvTray is a vertical wall mount for the second-generation Apple TV that allows users to mount their devices facing up, down, left, or right, and features a channel for cabling to ensure a clean look, a device-matching piano black finish, and a raised design to help combat Wi-Fi interference. H-Squared’s tvTray mount for the second-generation Apple TV is available now and sells for $30.

Android passes RIM, iOS as top U.S. smartphone OS

According to the latest data from comScore, Google’s Android OS has passed both RIM’s BlackBerry OS and iOS to become the most popular smartphone platform in the U.S. Android jumped 7.7 percentage points between October 2010 and January 2011 to claim a 31.2 percent share fo the market, followed by RIM, which fell 5.4 percentage points to a 30.4 percent share, and Apple’s iOS, which gained a tenth of a percentage point to hold a 24.7 percent share of the market. Apple was also mentioned in the list of top mobile OEMs in the U.S., as its seven percent share of the overall mobile phone market was good for fifth place, following RIM, Motorola, LG, and Samsung.

New iPad 2 Cases from Belkin, iKit, iSkin, more

A number of manufacturers have announced new accessories and cases for the iPad 2. Belkin has announced its new lineup, which includes the FlipBlade Adjust, a portable stand offering four adjustable angles for viewing and typing, the ViewLounge, which features a beanbag base for secure footing on various surfaces, and four folio-style case/stands—the Flip Folio, Access Folio, Slim Folio, and Verve Folio. Belkin’s new accessories for the iPad 2 will be available this Spring.

iKit has announced it new iPad 2 Carbon Case, a form-fitting rubber and polycarbonate case that resembles carbon fiber while offering open access to all ports, controls, and cameras. It is available for order now and sells for $30. iSkin has posted a teaser page that lets users register to be notified when the company’s new iPad 2-specific products are available, while also highlighting several existing sleeve- and folio-style designs that offer compatibility with both the iPad and iPad 2.

Kensington has posted a dedicated page for its new iPad 2 accessories, which will include new versions of the KeyFolio Bluetooth Keyboard Case and Folio case offering compatibility with both the iPad and iPad 2, as well as an iPad 2-specific version of the BlackBelt protection band, and other accessories. Marware has announced pre-order availability of its Eco-Vue and CEO Hybrid folio-style cases for the iPad 2, which sell for $55 and $50, respectively, while Targus has posted a dedicated iPad 2 page outing its new Protective TPU skin, VuScape Cover + Stand, and 360º Rotating Stand + Case for Apple’s second-generation tablet, as well as listing a number of existing designs compatible with both generations of iPad.

Target to offer iPad 2 at launch, iPad trade-in program

Target has confirmed via its Twitter feed that it will be offering the iPad 2 from launch day, March 11. “The #iPad2 is coming to @Target stores! Get yours on launch day - 3/11/11,” reads the update, without providing any further details. PC World reports that the retailer will be promoting its electronics trade-in program, available at more than 800 stores, that will owners of first-generation iPads to trade in for store credit starting on March 13. “We anticipate our guests being really excited to get the latest technology,” said Target spokeswoman Kristy Walker. Target joins Apple, Walmart, and Best Buy as official retail launch partners for the iPad 2.

AT&T grandfathering unlimited data plans on iPad 2

Engadget has confirmed that AT&T will allow iPad 2 users who purchased an unlimited data plan for the original iPad last year to continue using their plan with the iPad 2. When the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G first launched in the U.S. last spring, the carrier initially offered an unlimited data option for $30/month, however a few weeks later the carrier revised its plan structure replacing the unlimited iPad data plan with a $25 for 2GB per month option. The iPad 2 goes on sale in the U.S. this Friday and it is not yet known whether existing iPad Wi-Fi + 3G users will need to go through an activation process with AT&T to transfer their plan to the new device or can simply move over their existing micro-SIM card.

GoodReader for iPad adds SFTP support, one-way syncing

Good.iWare has released another update to its popular GoodReader app for the iPad adding support for accessing and syncing with SFTP servers and a new one-way synchronization mode for all services. GoodReader for iPad 3.5 now supports a “Download only” sync setting, allowing users to safely update new and changed files from online storage services without worrying about modifying or delete files on the remote server. The new version also improves PDF Annotation support, allowing the font size to be changed for text boxes and the Typewriter tool as well as respecting page rotation when using the Typewriter tool. Additional changes include stability enhancements for Dropbox connections and general synchronization features. GoodReader for iPad 3.5 is available from the App Store for $5.

iPad 2: Retailers, 3G data plans revealed

In addition to Apple’s online and retail stores, the iPad 2 will be available on launch day from several other retailers. ITProPortal reports that Best Buy, Walmart, and Sam’s Club will all offer the device beginning March 11; readers considering purchasing the iPad 2 from any of these retailers are encouraged to call their local store ahead of time to confirm availability.

In addition, Verizon has revealed its data pricing for the 3G model of the iPad 2. AllThingsD reports that Verizon is offering prepaid monthly plans of 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, and 10GB, priced at $20, $35, $50, and $80, respectively. Compared with AT&T’s plans—250MB for $15 or 2GB for $25—Verizon’s plans offer a wider range of options, with a minimum allotment four times that of AT&T’s for only $5 more, while Verizon customers seeking to upgrade to a second-tier plan will find themselves spending more money than those on AT&T. Like AT&T’s new postpaid options, overages will be charged at $10 per 1GB, and Verizon’s offerings are likewise available on a month-to-month basis with no long-term contract required.

Developers debate iPad 2 video mirroring copyright issues

Tips from a reader indicate that the iPad 2’s new screen mirroring feature may not be as broadly supported as users might hope, due to certain third-party developers’ copyright concerns. Introduced by Apple at this week’s media event in San Francisco, iPad 2 screen mirroring enables an iPad 2 to display all of its screen contents on an HDMI port-equipped HDTV, duplicating whatever is being shown on the device’s 9.7” touchscreen. This feature was initially said to depend upon Apple’s new Digital AV Adapter accessory, which will sell for $39. In introducing the Adapter, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that “it works with all apps, so anything you can see on the iPad screen, you see on HDMI.” Apple’s web site notes that the Adapter can also display movies “at up to 720p” and other content “in up to 1080p HD.”

According to our reader, Apple has turned screen mirroring on by default on the iPad 2, unlike AirPlay wireless video streaming, which is disabled by default and therefore only implemented by developers who want to support the feature. Though Apple has included a screen mirroring toggle to let third-party applications send different content through the Adapter, some developers plan to use it to “opt out” of screen mirroring altogether, citing potential copyright issues with displaying some or all of their video content through a connected TV. If implemented in this fashion, iPad 2 video mirroring using the Digital AV Adapter could have significant limitations, similar to Apple’s iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter, which was released without a conspicuous disclosure that some iTunes-purchased videos would refuse to play through the Adapter for unspecified contractual reasons, leading to widespread user complaints.

On the rare occasions that it has discussed the issue, Apple has maintained that Hollywood studios are to blame for the iPad’s video output limitations, and Jobs has publicly thrown up his hands in apparent frustration with contracts that have limited the device’s output capabilities. While it is unclear whether the Digital AV Adapter will handle iTunes-protected content better than the VGA Adapter did, particularly in light of a new claim on Apple’s web site that the VGA Adapter will also support iPad 2 video mirroring and 1080p video out, it is likely that the Digital AV Adapter includes support for high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP), an anti-piracy technology that would satisfy studios’ contractual requirements.

Mix: Joint Venture, AT&T, Samsung, China Mobile

Apple has introduced Joint Venture, a new Retail Store program aimed at small businesses. Under the plan, businesses pay $499 a year for up to five systems—each of which can include a Mac, two displays, an iPhone, an iPod, an iPad, and Apple peripherals—and in return get help from Apple in setting up the computers, transferring any necessary data, and installing any software, up to three in-store training sessions a year, a number for phone-based Apple Genius support, a dedicated Joint Venture website, and, should a covered system need service, access to a loaner MacBook while the system is down. For more information, see Apple’s dedicated Joint Venture webpage.

AT&T has confirmed that it will offer support for the Personal Hotspot feature of iOS 4.3 at launch, according to Electronista. The feature expands on iOS’ prior tethering feature, allowing up to five devices to share an iPhone 4’s cellular data connection over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB. Notably, the feature will cost the same amount—$20 with 2GB of extra data on top of the $25/2GB data plan—as the prior tethering option. The carrier has also announced that it will offer postpaid billing options for tablets, allowing users to choose between the $15/250MB or $25/2GB plans, add the plans to existing monthly wireless statements, and pay at the end of the month. Unlike with the prepaid plans, users who exceed their monthly data allotment are charged $10 for each 1GB of overage, instead of having to pay for a second monthly term at the $15 or $25 price levels.

Following Apple’s announcement of the iPad 2, Lee Don-joo, senior vice president of Samsung’s mobile unit, made several comments related to the new device, according to the Yonhap News Agency. Comparing it to Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, he said, “We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate,” adding, “Apple made it very thin.” Lee also appeared to be concerned with pricing, saying that “The 10-inch (Galaxy Tab) was to be priced higher than the 7-inch but we will have to think that over.”

Speaking with reporters at a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party, China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou said that Apple CEO Steve Jobs wants to make a version of the iPhone that works on the carrier’s proprietary TD-SCDMA 3G network. “Jobs has said he’s very interested in developing an iPhone that will run on TD,” he said. China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile carrier with over 580 million subscribers as of January.

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