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Apple, record labels in talks over unlimited downloads

Apple is negotiating with record labels over a new arrangement that would allow iTunes users easier access to purchased music across multiple devices, according to Bloomberg. Calling the move “a step closer to universal access to content centrally stored on the Internet” and citing three people with knowledge of the plans, the report states that under the new agreement, iTunes customers would have a permanent backup of their purchased music should the originals become damaged or lost, and would be able to download multiple times across every device that was linked to their iTunes accounts. Involved in the talks are all of the “big four” labels—Universal, Sony, Warner Bros., and EMI—and the report notes that an agreement could be announced by midyear. [via Engadget]

Condé Nast to move to new app platform, raise prices

AllThingsD is reporting that publisher Condé Nast will be raising prices for two of its iPad magazine titles, GQ and Vanity Fair as part of a shift to a new digital publishing platform. Previously, readers who had purchased a single digital issue of these magazines were able to purchase subsequent issues at a discounted price. This option will be going away as of next month, bringing prices to $5 an issue for both digital publications, from previous per-issue pricing of $3 for GQ and $4 for Vanity Fair. This is reportedly part of Condé Nast’s decision to move these titles from its own in-house digital publishing system over to the Adobe platform it chose to standardize on last fall, a change which will also require readers of these publications to download new apps. Glamour magazine will also be moving to the new platform and the company plans to promote the new app by offering it for a limited-time discounted price of $1 starting next Tuesday.

Condé Nast explains the price change by noting that the move to the new platform provides it with a chance to “reexamine pricing” and that the publisher intends to sell its digital titles at the same price as physical newsstand copies. The company has not commented on any plans regarding subscription pricing or Apple’s new subscription model. Condé has confirmed that purchased issues downloaded and archived in the current apps will remain available for reading as long as the app remains on the device, however users will need to install the new apps to purchase content going forward. The publisher also notes that for now the new app and new issues of the three magazines will be available on the iPad only, leaving previous iPhone and iPod touch readers out of the picture.

Lenntek outs TravelBook for the iPad 2

Lenntek has outed its new TravelBook by Sonix case for the iPad 2. Based on a folio-style design, the TravelBook will be available in a variety of exterior materials, including leather, suede, hemp, Lycra, and felt, openings for access to the device’s ports, controls, and front-facing camera, the ability to function as a stand with two angle options, and microfiber interior lining to protect against scratches. Lenntek’s TravelBook by Sonix case for the iPad 2 is expected to ship later this month; pricing has yet to be announced.

Gameloft shifts away from freemium, releases full versions

Gameloft has returned to its traditional lite/full pricing structure for its recent games following a try at releasing them using a more contemporary ‘freemium’ model. Both Sacred Odyssey and Starfront: Collision were released by Gameloft earlier this year as free limited versions for users to download and try which could then be upgraded to the full version using an in-app purchase (IAP) instead of downloading a separate app. Negative comments in the App Store revealed that many customers did not respond positively to this model, with criticisms ranging from users mistakenly believing that they would need to repurchase the game every time they reinstalled it to others feeling the game was far too large for a trial version. Gameloft’s UK marketing manager, Callum Rowley indicated to PocketGamer that the company had received feedback from “many players who did not feel comfortable with the new free model with in-app purchases” and as a result the company decided to release “the classical, full versions that players are used to buying.” Rowley noted that the freemium IAP versions will remain on the App Store to provide users with a choice of whichever “purchasing experience” they prefer. The full version of Starfront: Collision is available now on the App Store for $7. The full version is identical to the freemium version with the in-app purchase, which remains available on the App Store. A full version of Sacred Odyssey is also expected soon.

iOS 4.3 GM seed released to developers

Following its official announcement at the iPad 2 media event yesterday, Apple has released a pre-release version of the Gold Master of iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to members of the iOS developer program. This likely represents the last developer-only release prior to the final public release of iOS 4.3 which has been scheduled for March 11th. It is currently unknown what specific changes have been made in this latest version, although Apple highlighted some of the new features in iOS 4.3 during yesterday’s media event and some previews have been seen from prior beta releases. Apple’s iOS 4.3 GM seeds for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch are available now to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center. Notably, although developers were previously provided with a beta version of iOS 4.3 for the Apple TV, a GM seed of the Apple TV iOS has not yet been made available.

Posterous app adds group support, landscape mode

Posterous has released an update to its official app adding group management features, landscape support and the ability to upload multiple photos and videos. Posterous 2.0 now allows users to create and add members to Posterous groups from directly within the app as well as replying to group members and liking their posts. The new version now supports posting in landscape mode and users can also add multiple photos or videos at once using a multi-item picker. Posterous 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.

Infinity Blade update adds more new content

Chair Entertainment Group has released another free update to its hit iOS game Infinity Blade adding additional enemies, levels and other content. Version 1.2 allows players to descend in the dungeons to unlock the God King’s darkest secret and adds ten new enemies to defeat and 30 new magic rings, swords, shields, helmets and armor to collect and master. In addition, players can now continue to build their characters after finishing the game, re-mastering items and unlocking new items in the store. The update also adds multiple character slots, new achievements and leaderboards, a dodge button slider, audio volume controls and several gameplay enhancements and optimizations. Infinity Blade is a universal app and is currently available from the App Store for a sale price of $3.

Twitter app adds timeline Quick Bar, UI improvements

Twitter has released an update to its official iOS application adding several fixes and user interface improvements. Twitter 3.3 adds a new Quick Bar feature that allows users to view trends and other important information directly in their timeline, provides a cleaner interface for composing new Tweets and adds auto-completion for usernames and hashtags. The update also now automatically shortens URLs when pasted in, counting them as only 20 characters within the Tweet rather than the entire URL length. Other improvements include easier photo uploading, the ability to find friends from the iOS Contacts database and an improved DM conversation view that works more like the Messages application. Twitter 3.3 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple pulls MobileMe uploading from iPad 2

Obscured by the many iPad 2-related announcements yesterday, Apple failed to make any mention of MobileMe-based video or photo uploading during its media event. A quick scan of Apple’s iPad 2 mini-site shows that no references are made to sharing photos or videos via MobileMe, although the service is still mentioned by name in references to synchronization and location-based services. Recent reports have suggested that Apple is working on a revamp of its paid MobileMe service which would position it as a free online, cloud-based “locker” for content such as photos, videos, and music. In addition, the company recently discontinued its boxed MobileMe retail packages before pulling it from its computer configuration options and ultimately removing any method through which a user could pay for the service. References to a “Media Stream” service have been found inside recent beta versions of iOS 4.3, which might point to a replacement service for traditional MobileMe sharing options.

Booq rolls out Booqpad for iPad 2

Booq has rolled out its new Booqpad for the iPad 2. The Booqpad is a folio-style case featuring a paper notepad opposite the iPad on the interior, designated areas for a pen, stylus, cash, and business cards, and open access to all iPad 2 ports and controls, as well as the front-facing camera. It is available in an eco-friendly version made from recycled PET and leatherette for $50, or in a Nappa leather version for $100, and is expected to ship in late March.

Miniot debuts Cover for iPad 2, utilizes built-in magnets

Miniot has debuted its new Miniot Cover for the iPad 2. Apart from being the first third-party iPad 2 accessory iLounge has seen that takes advantage of the device’s built-in magnets to ensure proper alignment and automatic lock/unlock functionality, the Cover features an ultrasuede microfiber interior lining to prevent scratches, is able to fold up for use as a two angle stand, and is crafted from a single piece of smoked oak, walnut, cherry, padouk, or mahogany. Miniot’s new Miniot Cover for iPad 2 will begin shipping before the end of March and is priced from $69 and up.

Apple lowers iPad 1 new/used prices, offers some refunds

Following yesterday’s announcement of the iPad 2, Apple is now selling the original first-generation iPad as refurbished for prices starting at $349 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model up to $659 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G model, with new units selling at $100 reductions from their original $499 to $829 asking prices. Similar price reductions have been made in other countries as well, where the first-generation iPad is still being sold on the main Apple Store pages at reduced prices, pending the March 25th release of the iPad 2 in those countries.

Further, Electric Pig is reporting that Apple is offering refunds for customers who have purchased first-generation iPads within the past 14 days. Upon request to the company, Apple will refund the $100 price difference for customers who would prefer to keep their original iPad rather than returning it.

Hands-on iPad 2 camera interface, Smart Cover videos posted

We’ve just posted an iPad 2 hands-on interface video (new: HD version) on Vimeo so that you can check out the new camera features, settings, and other neat features of the second-generation iPad, as well as a hands-on iPad Smart Cover installation video showing how the magnetic clasp system and auto-lock/unlock features work. For more hands-on details, check out our First Looks at the iPad 2 and the iPad Smart Cover.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2 with iOS 4.3 support

Following today’s iPad 2 media event, Apple has released iTunes 10.2, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.2 allows users to sync with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices using iOS 4.3 and adds Home Sharing support that will allow iOS 4.3 device users to browse and play music streamed from their iTunes libraries. This update likely also adds compatibility with the forthcoming iPad 2. iTunes 10.2 is available now as a free download from iTunes.com or via Apple’s Software Update utility.

Apple releases iPad 2 Dock

Following today’s iPad 2 announcement, Apple has unveiled a new iPad 2 Dock. Priced at $29, the Apple iPad 2 Dock includes a 30-pin Dock Connector port for charging and syncing the iPad as well as connecting other accessories such as the Apple Digital AV Adapter cable and iPad Camera Connection Kit. The Dock also provides a 3.5mm audio line-out port for connecting to powered speakers. The new Dock uses a slightly different design from the original iPad Dock with a small lip at the front. The package will include the Dock only, requiring users to use the cables included with the iPad 2 or purchase additional cables separately.

Complete transcript of Apple’s iPad 2 Event

Below is a complete transcript of iLounge’s play-by-play coverage of Apple’s iPad 2 media event, held on March 2, 2011, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco. Updates are presented in chronological order; photos from the event can be seen on iLounge’s Flickr account.

8:48AM PT: It’s a rainy day in San Francisco as people are assembling outside of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to attend Apple’s second-generation iPad unveiling event. Join us a little before 10:00AM Pacific Time / 1:00PM Eastern Time for live updates from the event.

8:55AM PT: Ahead of the event, word leaked out from a reliable source that Apple has added a magnetic front lid clasping system to the new iPad, so that folio-style cases won’t need to have unsightly thick tabs with snaps or Velcro, and may be able to automatically lock and unlock the iPad’s screen as they close and open.

9:00AM PT: We also continue to hear that the new iPad will not be available for immediate purchase, with a minimum of 2-4 week availability deemed likely by sources. This would be similar to Apple’s iPhone release schedules, and unlike its iPod and Mac ones, which most commonly proclaim “in stores today” or “in stores tomorrow” during launch events.

iPad 2 to be released Internationally March 25

Apple has announced that the iPad 2 will be launched simultaneously in 26 additional countries around the world on March 25, two weeks following its U.S. debut. Countries included in the March 25 launch are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. The company intends to launch the iPad 2 in even more countries worldwide “in the coming months” but has not yet committed to which additional countries or any specific release dates. Pricing for the iPad 2 outside of the U.S. has not been announced, and the Apple Stores in other countries are not accepting pre-orders or providing any additional information, instead simply prompting users to sign up to be notified of additional release details as they become available.

U.S. iPad 2 sales start March 11, 5:00 pm, no pre-orders

Apple has released information on its web site indicating that the iPad 2 will go on sale in the U.S. on March 11th at 5:00 pm. Notably, unlike previous Apple product releases it does not appear that customers will be able to pre-order the device online or pre-reserve a device for pickup at a local Apple Retail Store. The Apple Store indicates that customers will be able to place an order “starting March 11.”

The iPad 2 will be selling at the same price points as the original iPad, with the Wi-Fi models selling for $499, $599 and $699 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, respectively, and the Wi-Fi + 3G versions selling for $130 more at $629, $729 and $829. Separate Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available for both AT&T and Verizon.

iLounge posts first iPad 2 hands-on pictures, details

Straight from Apple’s special event in San Francisco, California, iLounge has posted the world’s first hands-on photos of the second-generation iPad, officially named iPad 2. See our flickr feed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ipodlounger/ for all the details!

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Apple announces iPad HDMI cable, Smart Covers for iPad 2 (Updated)

Apple today also announced two new accessories that will be available for the iPad 2. A new $39 HDMI video output cable will allow iPad users to connect their devices to an HDTV, providing not only support for displaying HD video content but also mirroring the iPad screen onto a TV, allowing any iPad application to be viewed on the larger screen, including support for both landscape and portrait orientation with no setup or configuration required.

A new Smart Covers accessory was also unveiled for the iPad 2, designed in tandem with the new model. The Smart Cover attaches to the glass screen using magnets built into the iPad 2 which can also detect when the cover is closed. The iPad 2 will be able to automatically sleep when closed, and wake when opened, and magnets will grab and auto-align the cover for easy attachment and removal. The cover also folds into a triangle to be used as a typing stand or video stand and includes a microfiber lining to clean the screen. The cover will be sold in five colours in either polyurethane or leather for $39 and $69 for each version, respectively.

Update: The new HDMI adapter, dubbed the “Apple Digital AV Adapter” has appeared on the Apple Store with a ship date of “Coming Soon.” The cable includes an HDMI port and a 30-pin Dock Connector port for charging the iPad while connected to a TV. The cable is compatible with the iPad, iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch and iPad 2. The product page notes that display mirroring will only be available on the IPad 2.

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