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Apple, others hit with imaging patent lawsuit

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]

Apple 2011 product poll ends, iPad 2 poll begins

With nearly 4,000 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll—“Which potential 2011 Apple product are you most excited about?”—has ended. Readers could choose from the second-generation iPad, fifth-generation iPhone, fifth-generation iPod touch, iOS 5, seventh-generation iPod nano, fifth-generation iPod shuffle, third-generation Apple TV, or some other product.

The fifth-generation iPhone and second-generation iPad received the most votes from readers, accounting for 36 and 33 percent of the vote, respectively. iOS 5 was up next with 15 percent of the vote, and was followed by the fifth-generation iPod touch with seven percent, the third-generation Apple TV with two percent, and the seventh-generation iPod nano with one percent. Four percent of readers indicated they were most excited about some other product not listed, while only 14 readers chose the fifth-generation iPod shuffle, not enough to earn even a single percentage point. Thanks for all your votes!

Our new poll focuses on the iPad 2. We’d like to know if you’ve bought one, and if so, what you think of it? Are you a very happy current owner, or did you buy one and are only satisfied, or purchase one but only to be underwhelmed? Or have you been trying to buy one but haven’t yet got a chance, or have you not bought one because you simply don’t want one, or because it isn’t yet available where you live? Our new poll, “Did you buy an iPad 2, and if so, what do you think of it?” lets you answer that question. You can find the iLounge Poll in the left hand column of the main iLounge.com homepage. Cast your vote today!

iPad 2 lines persist as frustration grows

  • March 21, 2011
  • iPad

Based on multiple reader and third-party reports, Apple retail stores across the country are continuing to see daily lineups in the morning of customers looking to purchase an iPad 2, despite no promises of availability and reports of limited stock when shipments do arrive. Mark Hosbein, a potential iPad 2 customer, wrote on Cult of Mac that “There are several people who have waited in line multiple days and still do not get product. I was with 70 angry customers this morning. Only ten people got iPads – there were twenty available and the first ten people – many of whom looked like resellers for eBay or were shipping them overseas – all bought two.” Indeed, the problems with customers purchasing extra units to resell seems to be a widespread problem, as iLounge reader Ben points out: “I don’t know if its like this in other cities, but NYC is plagued by scalpers. At this point Apple really needs to reduce the purchase limit to 1, at least in the cities that are being run by these guys. Its ridiculous.”

iPad 2 launch day line at the Walden Galleria Apple Store in Buffalo, NY.

Aside from the issue of potential scalpers, Apple has thus far opted not to offer an online availability checker. The company offered this service for both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, letting customers check stock levels at any of the company’s U.S.-based retail stores without the need for phone calls or physical visits; Mac Rumors notes that some readers are instead using Target’s inventory tracking service to find units. A report last week indicated that some Apple retail stores were holding new shipments of iPad 2 units for sale until the following morning, in some cases opening early in order to serve as many iPad 2 customers as possible before the start of normal business hours. While it may seem counter-intuitive, readers looking to purchase an iPad 2 may at this point be better off placing an order online—despite the quoted 4-5 week wait time—to guard against the wasted time and frustration that could come with lining up at an Apple retail store on a daily basis only to come away empty-handed.

Quickoffice for iPad adds AirPrint support

Quickoffice has added AirPrint and PDF export support to Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPad. QuickOffice Connect allows iPad users to transfer, edit and share Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents directly on their device, and includes support for popular online file storage services such as DropBox, MobileMe iDisk and SugarSync. Users can also transfer files to and from the app over a local Wi-Fi network, via iTunes File Sharing or from other applications on the iPad. Version 2.1 now allows users to export files in PDF format or print directly from within the app using AirPrint on iOS 4.2 or later. The update also introduces the ability to share files on the Slideshare, Scribd and Dosctoc services. QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPad is currently available from the App Store for $15.

LogMeIn Ignition adds File Manager

LogMeIn has released an update to its iOS remote control application adding support for managing and transferring files on remote computers. LogMeIn Ignition is a universal application that connects to the popular LogMeIn remote access service to allow iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to remotely control a Mac or PC. In addition to remote desktop access, version 2.0 introduces a new File Manager, allowing users to view and manage files on remote computers and copy or move files between a remote computer and the local storage on an iOS device. Locally saved files can be viewed while offline and automatically updated with changes made on remote computers. The new version also adds support for waking sleeping computers using Wake-On-LAN and printing via AirPrint on the iPad. LogMeIn Ignition is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $30. A free subscription to the LogMeIn service is also required.

T-Mobile: No iPhone planned at this time

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Following yesterday’s announcement that U.S. iPhone carrier AT&T had reached an agreement with Deutsche Telekom to acquire T-Mobile USA, speculation arose as to whether or not the new agreement would mean that T-Mobile would be launching the iPhone. In a new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) posting, the nation’s third-largest carrier addressed the issue. Under the heading of “Is T-Mobile USA getting the iPhone?,” the company states, “T-Mobile USA remains an independent company. The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and coming soon our new Sidekick 4G.”

AT&T to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion

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AT&T has announced that it has entered into an agreement with Deutsche Telekom to purchase T-Mobile USA for approximately $39 billion in cash and stock. According to AT&T, the move will allow for a significant expansion of the company’s 4G LTE coverage plans, bringing service to an additional 46.5 million people—including those in rural communities and small towns—and expanding overall deployment to reach 95 percent of the U.S. population. As part of the agreement, Deutsche Telekom will receive an eight percent equity stake in AT&T, and a Deutsche Telekom representative will join AT&T’s board of directors. Notably, the agreement is still subject to regulatory approval.

“This transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation’s future,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO. “It will improve network quality, and it will bring advanced LTE capabilities to more than 294 million people. Mobile broadband networks drive economic opportunity everywhere, and they enable the expanding high-tech ecosystem that includes device makers, cloud and content providers, app developers, customers, and more. During the past few years, America’s high-tech industry has delivered innovation at unprecedented speed, and this combination will accelerate its continued growth.”

Deutsche Telekom Chairman and CEO René Obermann said, “After evaluating strategic options for T-Mobile USA, I am confident that AT&T is the best partner for our customers, shareholders and the mobile broadband ecosystem. Our common network technology makes this a logical combination and provides an efficient path to gaining the spectrum and network assets needed to provide T-Mobile customers with 4G LTE and the best devices. Also, the transaction returns significant value to Deutsche Telekom shareholders and allows us to retain exposure to the U.S. market.”

iLounge Weekly coming Monday, giveaway update

The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes Monday morning. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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Also, don’t forget to enter our two ongoing giveaways. In the LuxMobile Reflekt Giveaway, iLounge and LuxMobile are giving away 200 Pro-Tekto Reflekt Cases for iPhone 4, while in the Fanny Wang Headphone Giveaway, iLounge and Fanny Wang have teamed up to give away five sets of Fanny Wang On Ear Headphones. Both giveaways end on March 31, 2011 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

AT&T lowers price on remaining iPad 3G stock

  • March 18, 2011
  • iPad

AT&T has lowered its pricing on its remaining stock of original iPad 3G units, bringing the cost down to as low as $429. The company is now charging $429 for 16GB iPad 3G units, while curiously pricing both 32GB and 64GB units at $529; the company’s website lists the 32GB model as out of stock, although it’s unlikely that it would have been a popular purchase given that customers could purchase a unit with double the storage for the same price. Notably, AT&T also notes that “no refunds or exchanges [are] permitted on iPad purchased at promotional pricing.” The limited time offer is good while supplies last; Apple’s pricing on the same units remains $529-$729. [via Mac Rumors]

Flickr expands iPad light box support

  • March 18, 2011
  • iPad

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Flickr has announced a number of improvements to its light box feature for iPad users. The light box is full browser photo viewer available from any photo page, simply by tapping on the photo. Once activated, the light box presents the photo on a dark background, and now lets iPad users quickly swipe between images, add photos to their favorites, and share photos. Flickr’s new light box feature can be accessed by visiting flickr.com from an iPad.

Apple plans major MobileMe revamp for April launch; prior version to be phased out in a year

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Apple is set to announce a new, free version of MobileMe next month, according to a trusted iLounge source. The source, who works for a major educational institution, claims the school’s supplier has said the current version of MobileMe is no longer available, and that Apple is suggesting new students sign up for the 60-day trial to cover the gap between the final MobileMe shipment and the launch of the new version. In addition, the source was told that Apple will be supporting the existing version of MobileMe for the next year, suggesting that the new version will be quite different from the existing service; the extra year of support would likely cover those who recently paid for a full year of MobileMe, prior to Apple removing any method through which a user could pay for the service. Recent reports have suggested that the revamped service will position it as a free online, cloud-based “locker” for content such as photos, videos, and music.

AT&T sends notices to jailbreak tethering users

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AT&T has started sending both text message and email notices to iPhone users who are using jailbreak apps to enable tethering, letting them know that AT&T is aware of their unauthorized usage. ModMyi reports that the message states simply, “Did you know tethering your Smartphone to a computer requires a tethering plan? Pls call 888-860-6789 for details or visit att.com/dataplans,” while the email is considerably more detailed. Starting by saying that “We’ve noticed your service plan may need updating,” the email goes on to explain its tethering feature, and then notes, “[o]ur records show that you use this capability, but are not subscribed to our tethering plan.”

It goes on to list ways to get in touch with the company to activate tethering, and explains the charges associated with the feature, before stating, “If we don’t hear from you, we’ll plan to automatically enroll you into DataPro 4GB after March 27, 2011. The new plan – whether you sign up on your own or we automatically enroll you – will replace your current smartphone data plan, including if you are on an unlimited data plan. If you discontinue tethering, no changes to your current plan will be required.” AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom confirmed the campaign to Phone Scoop via email, saying, “We’ve just begun sending letters, emails, and text messages to a small number of smartphone customers who use their devices for tethering but aren’t on our required tethering plan. Our goal here is fairness for all of our customers.” [via Cult of Mac]

Apple tops 2011 J.D. Power smartphone satisfaction ratings

Apple has ranked highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study—Volume 1. According to a press release from J.D. Power, Apple received a satisfaction score of 795 and performed particularly well in the areas of ease of operation, operating system, features and physical design. Apple was followed in the rankings by Motorola, with a score of 763, and HTC, with a score of 762. Notably, this is the fifth consecutive time Apple has topped J.D. Power’s smartphone satisfaction ratings.

NFC tech still slated for iPhone 5?

A new report claims that Apple is still considering the inclusion of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in the fifth-generation iPhone. Forbes reports that a source who is working on a “top-secret” NFC product believes the next iPhone will have NFC technology built-in, based on information from a friend who works at Apple. The source added that manufacturers of NFC readers, with whom he has been in contact with for his own product, expect the next iPhone to have NFC and are gearing up for the additional traffic the iPhone will likely bring. This contradicts a report from The Independent published earlier this week that claimed the next iPhone would not have NFC; earlier reports indicated that Apple is working on incorporating NFC technologies into future iPad and iPhone models, including creating accessories that use NFC to offer additional functionality, and building a NFC-based payment system.

Reports: iPad 2 replacements still bleed light

  • March 17, 2011
  • iPad

iLounge has received multiple reader reports regarding problematic iPad 2 replacements due to edge-of-screen light bleeding, an issue that Apple now appears to be acknowledging and attempting to resolve with hardware swaps. Several readers have reported that the replacement units they’ve received exhibit the issue at least as badly, and in some cases, more noticeably than the original ones, as seen in the photo below (original unit on the left, replacement on the right).

iLounge’s editors have tested seven iPad 2 units, including one that does not exhibit any form of lighting problem under any conditions, three that barely exhibit any problem until they’re used in nearly complete darkness with the brightness turned up, and several more in which the issue is noticeable on dark screens used in broad daylight. Should your iPad 2 happen to exhibit the issue, it might be advisable to wait a little longer to give time for Apple to—hopefully—iron out the issue in later production runs. [Thanks, Derrick]

HEX intros Slim Watch Band for iPod nano 6G

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HEX has introduced its new Slim Watch Band for the sixth-generation iPod nano. Designed specifically for women and those with smaller wrist sizes—15-21cm—the Slim Watch Band is made of silicone and features a plastic buckle, push-through coverage for the volume and sleep/wake buttons, an integrated audio port cover, and open access to the nano’s screen. HEX’s new Slim Watch Band for the iPod nano 6G is available now in pink, purple, black, and white, and sells for $30.

Early online iPad 2 orders now arriving

  • March 17, 2011
  • iPad

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Early iPad 2 orders placed online via AT&T and Apple have started to arrive at customer’s homes and offices. According to Mac Rumors, the first orders arrived yesterday afternoon, with AT&T shipments being the first to appear, followed by a few Apple orders. The pace of Apple orders’ arrivals seems to be quickening today, with multiple customers reporting that their orders have either arrived or are listed as “On FedEx vehicle for delivery.” Apple opened iPad 2 online pre-orders in the early hours last Friday, with estimated shipment times jumping to 2-3 weeks by roughly 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time; new online orders are being quoted a shipment time of 4-5 weeks.

SOMA Software releases Defender for iPhone

SOMA Software has released an iPhone version of the classic 1980’s arcade game Defender. In this side-scrolling arcade shooter, players battle hoards of aliens ships who are trying to abduct humans from the surface. The game provides controls tailored for the iOS touchscreen and includes global leaderboards through Apple’s Game Center. Defender requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later; a iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod touch is recommended for best performance. Defender is available from the App Store for $2.

PhatPad adds folders, full-text search

PhatWare has released an update to PhatPad for the iPad adding document filing and full-text search features. PhatPad is an advanced drawing and writing application for the iPad that allows users to sketch, draw and hand-write notes in digital ink that are then converted into digital text and properly-formed geometric shapes. PhatPad 1.2 adds folders so users can organize their documents more effectively and can now synchronize the entire folder hierarchy with Dropbox. A new File Manager UI also allows users to search all PhatPad documents for specific characters or words. Users can also now choose to automatically insert recognition results as they draw or write within the app, allowing for continuous writing in the handwriting panel mode. Additional new features include the ability to specify a remote access password for Wi-Fi file sharing and record and playback voice notes in the background. PhatPad requires an iPad running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

Apple CEO Jobs sends message of support to Apple Japan

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has sent a message to Apple’s staff in Japan regarding the recent earthquake and tsunami. The message, which has been posted to Mac Rumors, was reportedly sent to all Apple employees. It reads:

“To Our Team in Japan,

We have all been following the unfolding disaster in Japan. Our hearts go out to you and your families, as well as all of your countrymen who have been touched by this tragedy.

If you need time or resources to visit or care for your families, please see HR and we will help you. If you are aware of any supplies that are needed, please also tell HR and we will do what we can to arrange delivery.

Again, our hearts go out to you during this unimaginable crisis.
Please stay safe.
Steve and the entire Executive Team”

Apple has already responded to the disaster by setting up a page for accepting Red Cross donations through iTunes and by delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan; anecdotal tales from one of Digg founder Kevin Rose’s friends in Japan—who works for Apple—indicate that the company is doing all it can to help its employees and neighbors in this trying time.

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