Apple has met with Taiwan-based touch panel manufacturers, discussing the possibility of price hikes in order to secure sufficient supply of the sought after components, according to a new report. Citing the panel manufacturers themselves, DigiTimes reports that should Apple agree to the price hikes, it would greatly help the overall supply chain, even if for the short term, and would also put increased pressure on other tablet and smartphone manufacturers. In addition, the report claims that in order to hit its internal shipment goal of 40 million iPads in 2011, Apple has booked over 60 percent of global touch panel capacity, and that despite the supply concerns caused by the devastating earthquake in Japan, Apple’s should have an easier time garnering supply than its rivals.
In preparation for its 25-country international rollout of the iPad 2 tomorrow, Apple has started to reveal its pricing for many of the countries in which the device will be available. According to SetteB.IT, most countries in the eurozone will see the same pricing across the board, with Wi-Fi models priced at €479 for 16GB, €579 for 32GB, and €679 for 64GB; Wi-Fi + 3G units are €120 more than their Wi-Fi-only counterparts. Notably, these prices are slightly higher in France due to government fees. In the UK, iPad 2 Wi-Fi pricing ranges £399 for a 16GB unit to £559 for a 64GB model; Wi-Fi + 3G units are £100 more expensive when not purchased on a contract. Overall, Australia and New Zealand have the cheapest pricing among the 25 new countries, while Denmark, Norway, and Sweden offer the highest prices.
IMDb has released an update to its universal app for iOS devices adding several new features including a watchlist, online movie ticket purchasing, and AirPlay support. With IMDb 2.1 users can now create and maintain a watchlist to track movies and TV shows that interest them, view all of the movies and TV shows that they have rated on IMDb and get live search results as they type. The update also adds improved showtime listings for movie theatres based on distance from the user’s current location and allows users in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Spain to purchase movie tickets directly within the app. iOS 4.3 users can also now stream movie trailers to their Apple TV with the addition of AirPlay video support. The update also adds an Entertainment News section to provide more news and updates about movies, TV shows and celebrities. IMDb Movies & TV 2.1 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
A new update to TripIt’s travel organizer application for the iPhone and iPod touch now allows users to edit itinerary information directly on their device. TripIt is a companion application for users of the popular travel management web service, providing users with simple access to their TripIt itineraries while on the go. In prior versions, the TripIt app provided a read-only view of itineraries with a visit to the web site required to modify any information. Version 2.4 of the iPhone app introduces the ability to create new trips, add plans to existing trips and delete content directly from within the app. The new version also now provides notification of conflicting flight information and an improved login experience. TripIt 2.4 requires iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as either a free, ad-supported version or a $2 ad-free version. A free account at TripIt.com is required to use the app.
Evernote has released an update to its universal iOS application adding support for adding snapshots to notes using the camera on the iPad 2. The new version also makes a minor fix to how image-only notes are displayed in the new iPhone layout, now including titles dates and locations in the note list; the previous 4.0 release had introduced a redesigned UI that displayed image-only notes as a full-width thumbnail with no additional descriptive information. Evernote 4.0.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple is considering licensing its AirPlay video streaming technology to consumer electronics companies, letting them build devices that could accept streaming movies, TV shows, and other video content from iPods, iPhones, and iPads, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the project, Bloomberg reports that the new venture would allow AirPlay support to be built directly into TV sets, removing the need for an external Apple TV set-top box. One of the sources cited said devices compatible with AirPlay video streaming could be available later this year. Apple currently only licenses its AirPlay audio streaming technology, and then to only a handful of companies, which pay Apple $4 for each device sold that offers the functionality, according to the report. The report adds, interestingly, that Apple’s licensing agreements prevent video from being streamed, even though the technology is there to do it.
In the midst of researching new iPhone 4 cases that have recently arrived with noticeably different and larger rear camera holes than we’d seen in prior products, iLounge has received confirmation that Apple has recently published “Case Design Guidelines for Apple Devices,” a digital booklet laying out specifications for iPod, iPhone, and iPad cases, as well as an updated document suggesting a “keepout area” around the iPhone 4’s rear camera.
Notably, the documents now include specific recommendations for materials to be kept out of cases—such as various metals, plastics with carbon content or metallic painting—as well as guidelines for what should be specifically done for both the iPad 2 and iPhone 4, including a recommendation that iPhone 4 cases use an oversized hole to avoid flash and other interference with the distortion-sensitive rear camera. The documents also offer specific testing recommendations, such as device insertion and removal tests, colorfastness tests, call quality tests—conducted in handset, speakerphone, and headset mode—and control/port access tests to confirm that the cases will work with both headphones and dock connector cables with large plugs.
Also surprising: despite Apple’s own use of magnets in the iPad 2 and iPad Smart Covers, the Guidelines state that “case designs for Apple devices should avoid the use of magnets (for example, as closure devices) and magnetic materials.” Indeed, the company’s dimensional drawings for the iPad 2 make no mention of the magnets built into the device, leaving it up to case developers to discover the proper placement on their own. Though Apple has published dimensional drawings for its devices for years, these appear to be the first such documents released to developers since Apple created a new case-oriented lab and testing program last year.
Less than two weeks removed from the iPad 2’s launch in the U.S., companies are continuing to bring out new products for Apple’s second-generation tablet. CleverWraps has announced that its CleverWraps for iPad clear, disposable protective sleeve is compatible with the iPad 2. It sells for $15. MusicSkins has introduced its new line of vinyl Skins for the iPad 2 (pictured), which feature full coverage for the rear of the device save for openings to access the various ports, controls, and camera. MusicSkins’ new Skins for the iPad 2 are priced at $20.
Ozaki has introduced its iCoat Notebook and iCoat Versatile for the iPad 2. Both of these folio-style cases offer open access to all ports and controls and include free styluses; the iCoat Notebook can fold to become a dual-angle horizontal stand and comes in two different leathers with four color options each, while the iCoat Versatile functions as a multi-angle stand and features an elastic band hand grip as well as three included straps for holding, carrying, and mounting. It comes in four colors; pricing and availability information has yet to be announced for either case.
Finally, XO Skins has launched its line of film protectors for the iPad 2. Custom-designed to fit the device and requiring the use of application spray, these clear glossy protectors are available now for the screen ($25), back ($25), or as a full-body coverage set ($35).
In one of the more amazing stories of iPhone drop survival we’ve heard, iLounge reader and U.S. Air Force Combat Controller Ron Walker has shared the story of how his iPhone 4 improbably survived a 1,000 foot fall from an airplane. According to Mr. Walker, who works as a Jump Master, ensuring that the airplane is in the correct position when he sends parachute jumpers out of the aircraft, the plane was traveling at 130 knots (roughly 150 mph) when he stuck his body out of the plane door to look for landmarks. At that point, one of his pockets opened and his iPhone took flight before plunging to the ground. “Well, guess I’ll be buying a new phone,” he thought to himself, and continued on with his duties.
Once on the ground, Mr. Walker shared the story with his co-workers, and ended up downloading the Find My iPhone app onto a friend’s phone. Within roughly a minute, the app had found his phone, which was roughly two miles away in a wooded area between a two-lane highway and a lake. Plotting the phone’s position on maps, Mr. Walker and a friend headed out on ATVs to see if they could track the phone down, if only so Mr. Walker could attempt to back up his data for transfer to a replacement unit. Within an hour, the two had pinpointed the phone’s location near a tree, ultimately finding the phone in complete working order, apparently with nary a scratch or patch of dirt on it. Mr. Walker says that the phone only had a Griffin Motif TPU case and an aftermarket metal backing on it for protection; he believes that the phone’s fall may have been slowed by tree leaves and needles as it made its way towards land.
Amazingly, the email Walker sent to iLounge was typed on the very iPhone 4 that survived the fall, making it the first we’ve ever received from a skydiving Apple product.
Update: We’ve added a photo of the now un-encased iPhone to the story.
Update: We’ve added another photo of the phone’s back to the story, as well as a couple of screenshots approximating the area in which the phone was found.
This week’s featured photo is from our iPads Around the World gallery, and shows two iPad 2s being held on the ground in front of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. 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!
Apple has released Apple TV Software Update 4.2.1, the latest software update for its second-generation set-top box. According to Apple’s Apple TV software update support page, the new software addresses issues “that may cause the screen to flicker or display incorrect color on some older TVs,” an issue “where Apple TV may not wake up from sleep,” and an issue “where audio may not be heard on some TV models after switching from another input,” and also offers other unspecified stability and performance fixes. Notably, a number of second-generation Apple TV owners had complained of flickering issues following the release of the 4.2 update. Apple TV Software Update 4.2.1 is available now via the device’s software update feature.
Shazam has added social networking and sharing features to its popular music discovery application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Shazam allows iOS device users to identify and tag songs simply by listening to a few seconds through the device’s built-in mic. A list of tagged songs is saved within the app with links to the iTunes Store, track and album reviews, artist biographies and discographies and song lyrics. Shazam 4.0 adds a new Shazam Friends feature, allowing users to share their tagged tracks with friends, see what their friends are tagging, and look up and purchase tracks directly from friends’ lists. Shazam Friends integrates with Facebook to help users easily locate other users who are sharing their tagged music lists. Shazam for the iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store in two versions: the free version of Shazam allows users to tag up to five tracks per month while Shazam Encore ($6) provides unlimited tagging. A separate iPad version is also available but has not yet been updated with the new Shazam Friends feature.
XPAL Power has debuted its new PowerSkin battery case for the iPhone 4. Made from 100% recycled silicone, the case offers push-through volume and sleep/wake button covers, open access to all other ports, cameras, and controls—including a GSM/CDMA-compatible ring/silent switch opening—LED battery status lights, an on/off button, a 2000mAh integrated battery, and an included charging cable. XPAL Power’s PowerSkin case for the iPhone 4 will be available in April and will sell for $50.
Google has updated its Latitude and Places location apps for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding check-in support for Latitude and new localizations and synchronization features for Places. With Google Latitude 2.1 users can now optionally check-in at locations such as restaurants and coffee shops, providing friends with more precise information for meeting up. When using background location updating, Latitude can now also automatically check users out of a location when leaving the area. The update also improves battery life when using background location reporting.
Google Places 1.1 adds synchronization of favourite places with Google Maps, allowing users to star places to save for later viewing at maps.google.com. The Places update also adds new language support for French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish and Russian. Both Google Latitude and Google Places are free downloads from the App Store.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been ordered by a federal magistrate judge to answer questions in an antitrust dispute dating back to 2005. Bloomberg reports that the case revolves around RealNetworks’ Harmony technology, which promised to allow copy-protected music sold on its online store to be played on iPods. The technology was introduced in July 2004, and Apple took just five days to announce software updates to render the technology inoperable, saying its was “stunned” that Real had “adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod.” According to U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd in San Jose, California, Jobs has been ordered to speak because “The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software.”
Chinon has debuted its new AVi Stylix docking station for the iPod and iPhone. The AVi Stylix features a top-mounted dock, dual 2W stereo speakers, a seven-inch, “high-resolution” LCD screen on the front capable of playing back video from both the iPod/iPhone’s video library as well as from compatible apps, inputs for USB and SD cards to play media directly from a thumb drive or memory card, a digital radio, and alarm clock functionality. The Chinon AVi Stylix will be available in June and will sell for $100.
Apple has sued Amazon over its use of the “App Store” trademark, according to a Bloomberg report. In the complaint, filed March 18 in federal court in northern California, Apple accuses Amazon of trademark infringement and unfair competition, and asks for a court order to stop Amazon from using the App Store name, as well as for unspecified damages. Amazon officially opened its Amazon Appstore for Android today, offering many of the same apps as Apple’s App Store, such as the new Angry Brids Rio, but actually began using the term earlier this year. “Amazon has unlawfully used the App Store mark to solicit software developers throughout the United States,” Apple states in its suit. Notably, Apple is currently involved in a dispute with Microsoft over the “App Store” trademark, over which Microsoft has filed an objection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Amid widespread shortages of the device in the U.S., Apple has confirmed that it plans to launch the iPad 2 in 25 additional countries this Friday, March 25. According to the company, the iPad 2 will be available at Apple retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers at 5 p.m. local time, and through the online Apple Store beginning at 1 a.m, in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Pricing is listed in the release in US dollars. In addition to announcing the first international rollout details, Apple also announced that the iPad 2 will be available in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and additional countries in April, and in “many more” countries in the coming months.
“While competitors are still struggling to catch up with our first iPad, we’ve changed the game again with iPad 2,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re experiencing amazing demand for iPad 2 in the US, and customers around the world have told us they can’t wait to get their hands on it. We appreciate everyone’s patience and we are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone.”
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the owner and producer of the International CES, is now offering a discounted price on its membership just for individuals. The membership, called the Tech Enthusiast membership, is designed exclusively for early adopters and fervent supporters of consumer technology. It gives you entry to the CEA and offers a members-only website, offering such features as insider information on the latest technology trends, consumer electronics product giveaways, access to a community of like-minded technophiles, and discounts from technology companies.
CEA is offering a special for iLounge readers to receive the CEA Tech Enthusiast membership at a discounted rate of $29 (valued at $49). To learn more or join today, visit CEAtechenthusiast.com and enter promo code “INSIDER” at checkout to receive the discount.
Apple is among a group of companies sued by Imperium Holdings, which claims the companies infringe on five distinct patents dealing with image sensors. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Texas, claims that Apple, Kyocera, LG, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, RIM, and Sony Ericsson violate patents covering “Image Flicker Reduction with Fluorescent Lighting,” a “High Sensitivity Snap Shot CMOS Image Sensor,” a “CMOS Image Sensor Arrangement with Reduced Pixel Light Shadowing,” “Bad Pixel Correction While Preserving Features,” and a “Semiconductor Device for Isolating a Photodiode to Reduce Junction Leakage.” According to the complaint, Apple infringes on the patents with the iPhone and other devices with image sensors, possibly including the iPod touch, iPad, and Mac computers. [via Patently Apple]