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MagicPlan uses augmented reality to create floor plans

Sensopia has released a new app designed to simplify the process of creating floor plans by using augmented reality. MagicPlan allows users to create an interactive floor plan of a house using the camera and gyroscope on an iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod touch to map out each room. The user simply stands in one place in the room and uses the camera to capture corners and doorway edges, even through furniture; the app uses this information to calculate the dimensions of the room and generate the floor plan. The process is repeated in additional rooms throughout the house, creating individual floor plans for each room which can then be connected to each other to form a complete floor plan of the property. The app supports saving multiple floor plans which can be exported to PDF or JPEG or published on the web as interactive floor plans. Addresses can be automatically filled in using the iPhone GPS and several tutorials are included to get the user up and running. MagicPlan requires an iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod touch running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. Non-commercial use is free and includes watermarks on published and exported floor plans; payment is required for commercial use at $4 per PDF/JPEG floor plan or $10 per web floor plan and removes all watermarks.

Report: Foxconn to assemble iPad in Brazil

Speaking with reporters, Aloizio Mercadente, Brazil’s science and technology minister, said that Foxconn plans to start assembling iPads in its plants in the country by mid-November. Reuters reports that Mercadente’s comments come as Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has said that Foxconn was considering making an investment of $12 billion to assemble monitors in the country. “You’ve got an ample range of investments [from other tech companies] that go from $300 to $400 million to $12 billion over 5 to 6 years in the case of Foxconn,” Rousseff said during a recent trip to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao.. “They’re proposing a partnership. They came to us and said we want to invest in Brazil.”

Apple hires materials guru as Composites Engineer

Apple has hired Kevin Kenney as a Senior Composites Engineer, according to Kenney’s LinkedIn profile. The profile reveals that Kenney spent more than 13 years as the President & CEO of Kestrel Bicycles—a company that specializes in bikes with carbon-based frames—before leaving to start his own firm. Interestingly, it appears as though Kenney was doing work for Apple prior to his recent full-time hiring, as an Apple patent application from May 2009 for a “Reinforced device housing” made from a fiber-in-matrix material lists Kenney as the sole inventor. In addition to his background in working with fiber, Kenney’s profile also notes that he has experience in logistics, purchasing, and supply chain management. [via 9to5Mac]

Developer reverse engineers Apple’s private AirPlay key

Developer James Laird has reverse engineered Apple’s private AirPlay key, opening the door to third-party AirPlay-enabled AirPort Express emulators. In a blog post announcing the release of ShairPort, an open-source AirPort Express emulator, Laird explains that Apple used a public-key crypto scheme in the AirPort Express, hiding a private key inside. Laird ended up opening the AirPort Express, dumping the ROM, and reverse engineering the keys out of it to achieve his goal. As noted by Mac Rumors, third-party apps allowing users to stream audio to an AirPort Express or other AirPlay devices have previously been available, but none were able to accept incoming audio streams. In addition, it seems unlikely that hardware manufacturers would want to use the key, as it is possible to become an officially licensed AirPlay partner instead.

Researchers use iPad 2 camera to create glasses-free 3D effect

A group of French researchers has created a proof-of-concept app and video that demonstrates the iPad 2’s ability to create glasses-free 3D effects. Jeremie Francone and Laurence Nigay of the Laboratory of Informatics of Grenoble, EHCI Research Group discovered that by using the device’s front-facing camera to track the head of the user—and therefore determine the angle from which the user is looking at the device—they could create a spatially-aware display. Notably, the effect does not use the device’s accelerometer, and instead relies solely on the front camera. The video is available for viewing on YouTube via the above link or below in embedded form. [via TUAW]

Bloomberg releases Businessweek+ for iPad

Bloomberg has released an iPad app and digital subscription for Businessweek magazine. The app provides access to all of the content from the print edition of the magazine plus extra exclusive content and interactive features. Weekly issues provide behind-the-scenes video features, audio interviews, direct access to the latest market information from any article and an interactive table of contents and index of companies. The app also provides an integrated search feature that works across multiple issues, support for portrait and landscape orientation, the ability to create a personal archive of content that can be accessed from any issue, and sharing of articles via e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. Bloomberg Businessweek+ requires an iPad running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download and includes a free issue of the magazine. Print edition subscribers receive a free subscription to the digital edition upon validating their print subscription; non-subscribers can purchase a digital-only subscription via in-app purchase for $2.99/month.

Apple reportedly hires Nintendo, Activision PR executives

A recent report from gaming magazine MCV indicates that Apple may be hiring two top public relations executives away from Nintendo and Activision. Rick Saunders, head of communications at Nintendo UK announced last week that he would be leaving the company after seven years, although he did not indicate where he would be going next. Saunders is said to have played a key role at Nintendo in the Wii and DS launches and in building strong relationships with mainstream media. MCV reports that Saunders’ role at Apple will be to focus on PR for iOS apps. The second PR executive, Nick Grange of Activision is rumoured to be moving to Apple into a role focused on iPad hardware. Grange worked for Electronic Arts and Microsoft before joining Activision in 2007 where he is currently the European PR director. Neither appointment has been officially confirmed by Apple or the individuals involved. [via Mac Rumors]

JBL releases On Air AirPlay Speaker Dock

JBL has announced the release of its new On Air Wireless AirPlay Speaker Dock first revealed in December. The On Air Wireless supports AirPlay streaming from any iPhone, iPod touch or iPad using iOS 4.2 or later or from a Mac or Windows PC running iTunes 10.1 or later. An integrated screen displays album artwork and song information when streaming from iTunes and playback controls are also included on the speaker. The speaker system itself includes three JBL transducers with a unique HALO (horizontal acoustic level optimization) design that provides uniform, full-spectrum sound. The On Air also includes a Dock Connector for charging an iPhone or iPod, a dual alarm clock, digital FM radio with RDS support and a USB port for firmware updates. The JBL On Air Wireless Speaker sells for $350; it can be ordered online at Apple or Best Buy beginning today and should begin appearing in retail stores later this week.

Update: Canadian retailer Future Shop appears to be offering a white version of the On Air for pre-order with an estimated release date of May 6th. The white model does not currently appear on the Apple or Best Buy sites.

Update 2: JBL has confirmed that Best Buy and Apple will only be selling the black version. The white will be available at retail stores in Canada and online at the Harman retail site.

Adobe announces Photoshop Touch SDK, iPad apps

Adobe has announced a new software development kit aimed at providing developers with tools for creating mobile and tablet apps for its Photoshop CS5 desktop application. The Photoshop Touch Software Development Kit along with a new scripting engine in Photoshop CS5 will support the Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS platforms, allowing apps to interact with Photoshop CS5 using a touchscreen device.

In conjunction with the SDK release, Adobe has developed three initial Photoshop CS5 companion apps for the iPad: Adobe Color Lava for Photoshop, Adobe Eazel for Photoshop and Adobe Nav for Photoshop. These apps will provide a demonstration of the capabilities of the new Touch SDK, enabling users to create custom color swatches, paint from the iPad screen and access popular Photoshop tools. Color Lava will allow users to mix colors and create custom color swatches and themes on the iPad which can be transferred back into Photoshop. Eazel will allow digital artists to create sophisticated paintings on the iPad that can be transferred directly to Photoshop for further development. Adobe Nav turns the iPad into an input surface for Photoshop CS5, allowing users to select and control Photoshop tools.

The Adobe Photoshop Touch SDK is available as a free download from the Adobe Photoshop Developer Center. An update to CS5 to add the necessary scripting support will be available from Adobe on May 3, 2011 with the iPad apps expected for release on the App Store sometime in early May.

Star Walk celebrates 50th anniversary of human spaceflight

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight, Vito Technology has released an update to its popular interactive astronomy guide apps for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad adding iPad 2 support and several other new features. Star Walk 5.2 can now use the iPad 2 camera, gyroscope and compass to provide a real-time augmented reality view of the night sky. The update also adds a new integrated calendar of celestial events to help users plan stargazing trips. Events can be bookmarked and shared on social networks from directly within the app. The update also provides improved search capabilities, an enhanced sky view and redesigned control buttons for smoother operation. Star Walk for the iPhone and iPod touch is currently on sale for $1 until April 12th while Star Walk for iPad is available at its normal price of $5.

Time Warner Cable and Viacom go to court over TWCable iPad app

Time Warner Cable has filed a request for a declaratory judgment regarding Viacom’s cable networks, asking the court to rule that Time Warner Cable’s current carriage agreement allows it to deliver Viacom programming over its cable systems “for viewing on devices of the customers’ choosing.” The request revolves around Time Warner Cable’s TWCable iPad app, which allows subscribers to view their cable TV programming on the iPad within their own home Wi-Fi network, essentially positioning the iPad as simply another TV screen in the home.

Last week, Time Warner voluntarily removed several channels from their app after Fox Cable, Viacom and Discovery networks challenged Time Warner’s rights to include their feeds. Viacom has responded with a complaint stating that Time Warner “blatantly grabbed the rights that their competitors have negotiated in good faith to obtain.” [via Engadget]

Clorox phases out BlackBerries, 92% choose iPhone

ComputerWorld reports that cleaning products company Clorox has eliminated company-issued BlackBerries in favour of other smartphone devices. Employees were offered a choice between the iPhone or an Android or Windows Phone 7 device and out of 2,000 smartphones handed out by the company, over 92% of employees chose the iPhone. Clorox CIO Ralph Loura indicated the move was made due to low employee satisfaction with the company’s legacy IT environment, stating “the workforce in their 20s and 30s isn’t going to accept black corporate PCs with black corporate mobile phones and not be allowed to run Facebook or Angry Bird apps.” Loura went on to note that the company “live[s] in the public cloud for mail and messaging” and therefore does not have the same security concerns as many other firms.

SugarSync update improves file management

SugarSync has released an update to the universal iOS client for its cloud storage service. The new version incorporates several major changes that users have been requesting, improving the ability to manage SugarSync files and folders from the iOS platform without needing to visit a desktop PC. Major improvements include the ability to copy links to files stored online, allowing users to send large files from the iPhone or iPad simply by attaching a link. Users can now also select multiple files and folders for sharing at once and organize, move and delete files and folders from the iOS app. Additional enhancements include address book integration for sharing files and background streaming of audio files from the cloud storage on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices. SugarSync is available from the App Store as a free download. A SugarSync cloud storage account is required to use the app; new users can sign up for a free account with 5GB of storage from directly within the app.

V-Moda Musique provides access to exclusive DJ mixes

Designer headphone manufacturer V-Moda has released Musique, an iOS app for exploring the world of dance music. The app provides exclusive on-demand access to mixes from top DJs around the world and incorporates Facebook and Twitter integration for not only sharing the current track but also viewing and general posting to Facebook and Twitter from directly within the app, Users can access their own Facebook news feed, post status updates and like and comment on other posts and view and comment directly on posts for the current mix station. Background audio is also supported on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices allowing users to continue listening to their favourite mixes while using other apps. V-Moda Musique is available from the App Store as a free download. An Internet connection is required to use the app.

Parrot previews AR.Drone Flying Ace app

Parrot has posted a preview video and release date for its much-anticipated AR.FlyingAce augmented reality game for the AR.Drone iPhone-controlled Quadicopter. Released late last summer, The AR.Drone initially included a simple free flight app that allowed users to control the device and view input from the two onboard cameras on their iPhone or iPod touch with Parrot promising additional apps later in the year. An open software development kit also allowed enterprising iOS developers to create their own apps for the AR.Drone, and the company later followed up with its first official game, AR.Pursuit. This game allowed users to play augmented-reality virtual tag with other AR.Drone owners as a sort of scaled-down version of the full dogfighting Flying Ace app that Parrot had been promoting since the early previews of the AR.Drone itself. Parrot has now announced that the AR.FlyingAce app will debut on April 15th and has provided a preview video of two AR.Drones duelling in New York’s Central Park using the new game. Additional details on pricing and features have not yet been announced.

Microsoft releases Bing for iPad

Microsoft has released an iPad version of its Bing search app for iOS. Following in the footsteps of the longstanding iPhone and iPod touch version, Bing for iPad operates as a front-end for Microsoft’s online search engine of the same name. The iPad app goes beyond basic search however, providing a home screen view of news, traffic, weather, stock quotes and more as well as location-based searches. Integrated map views allow users to find places and get directions with real-time tracking and road, traffic, aerial and “bird’s eye” views. Users can also follow current news and trending search topics in an iPad-optimized interface with rich images and magazine-style layouts. The application incorporates voice-activated search and easy navigation between Bing results and web pages by displaying search results framed within a Bing search bar. Bing for iPad is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.

Apple patent reveals Smart Bezel details

An Apple patent application revealed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office today provides more details on a possible implementation of a “smart bezel” user interface for iOS devices. Apple received a patent last year for a touch-sensitive bezel which described a number of implementations for extending the touch-based interface beyond the perimeter of the screen in order to manipulate or control what is being displayed on the screen. The patent application revealed today provides a more in-depth look at possible approaches covering “systems and methods for selectively illuminating a secondary display.” The application notes that an electronic device could include a primary display screen and a “printed segmented electroluminescence secondary display.” The primary display would be used to display visual content while the secondary display would display selectively illuminated indicators to represent buttons and other controls. In the application, Apple notes the major limitation of the current on-screen touchscreen control model as occupying “space on the touch screen that could otherwise be used for displaying visual content” and proposes the secondary display as a solution by moving the user controls off the primary display. The application goes on to summarize ways in which the secondary display would work, including selectively illuminating portions of the secondary display based on conditions such as application state, motion sensing components, device orientation and location. As with all Apple patents, this application does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Patently Apple]

LeapFrog debuts on App Store with Scout’s ABC Garden

Educational product manufacturer LeapFrog has released its first application for the iPhone and iPod touch, Scout’s ABC Garden. Designed to teach children to explore letter names and sounds, the app brings LeapFrog’s plush toys Scout and Violet to life to guide the child on an interactive journey through Scout’s garden. The app allows each child’s experience to be customized based on his or her name and favourite food, colour and animal which is carried throughout the game to deliver content tailored to the child’s individual interests. Kids explore the garden by touching objects to trigger fun sounds and animations while Scout and Violet’s virtual radio plays traditional kid-favourite songs. Rubbing Scout’s or Violet’s belly allows children to hear a song with their name or grow their own letter garden. The application is customized to allow children to learn at their own pace and additional features allow parents to be alerted to their child’s achievements and share them with friends and family via social channels such as Facebook. The application also supports up to three customization profiles allowing it to easily be used with different children. Scout’s ABC Garden is available from the App Store for $4.

EyeTV adds AirPlay video

Elgato has released an update to its universal EyeTV app adding support for streaming videos to an Apple TV via AirPlay. EyeTV for iOS is a companion app for Elgato’s EyeTV solution for Mac OS X that allows users to stream live TV or recordings to their mobile device even when away from their home network, over either Wi-Fi or a 3G data connection. With the latest EyeTV update users can now enable AirPlay to stream any video that can be viewed on the device, either live or recorded, to an Apple TV or other AirPlay compliant device. Combined with the ability to use the EyeTV app remotely this new feature allows users to easily access and view live TV or recordings from their home while using an Apple TV at another location. EyeTV is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $5; the app also requires EyeTV for Mac OS X.

Apple to begin selling iPad 2 at Toys R Us?

A recent report from ModMyI suggests that retailer Toys R Us may begin selling the iPad 2 in its stores as early as next month, revealing a photo of an iPad 2 product knowledge sheet from an internal training session intended to familiarize employees with new products. Toys R Us began selling select iPod models in late 2008, however the retailer has not previously offered the iPad. It is unclear at this time whether the iPad 2 would be sold internationally or only in the company’s U.S. stores. The iPad 2 is already being sold in the U.S. at other third-party retailers such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and Radio Shack. [via Mac Rumors]

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