Amazon has quietly updated the Cloud Player music component of its Cloud Drive online storage service, allowing for playback over iOS devices using the Safari browser. Launched in late March, Cloud Player gives users to access both MP3 and AAC files stored using the Cloud Drive service, allowing for browser-based playback. As noted by Engadget and confirmed in iLounge’s brief testing, the feature appears to work well, with a small but notable delay between song selection and the beginning of playback. Playlist management features also work, and, surprisingly, the Cloud Player also works well with iOS’ multitasking audio controls. To utilize the new offering, iOS users simply need to navigate to their Cloud Player from within Safari.
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Creative Technology has introduced its new D80 and ZiiSound DX wireless speakers. The D80 is a one-piece Bluetooth speaker featuring two three-inch full range drivers, an integrated auxiliary input for connecting non-Bluetooth audio sources, A2DP/AVRCP support, and small, portable design. It will be available later this month and will sell for $50. The ZiiSound DX line of modular wireless speakers includes the ZiiSound D5x—very similar to the company’s prior ZiiSound D5 Wireless Speaker—the ZiiSound D3x speaker, and the ZiiSound DSx subwoofer. Offering both Bluetooth and apt-X wireless audio compatibility, the speakers are designed to be used individually or as a group, enabling up to 3.1-channel wireless audio. Common features for the D5x and D3x are integrated auxiliary inputs, one-piece construction, and compatibility with the DSx subwoofer. Creative’s new ZiiSound D5x, D3x, and DSx wireless speakers will be available in Singapore at the end of June and will sell for S$399, S$199, and S$199, respectively; no U.S. release date has been announced.
Problems at LG Displays’ production lines may have played a part in Apple’s struggle to meet demand for the iPad 2, according to a new report. Citing anonymous industry sources, DigiTimes reports that Samsung shipped a total of four million 9.7-inch IPS panels for iPads in the first quarter, outpacing the 3.2 million delivered by LG Displays. LG is said to have forcibly reduced its first quarter shipments due to a light leakage problem with panels produced at its 6G production lines, although the problem is said to have been fixed. A number of iPad 2 owners reported problems with backlight light leakage shortly after the device’s release. The report also notes that Chimei Innolux has been selected as a supplier of iPad 2 IPS display panels, but is still awaiting verification from Apple, and is expected to start shipping panels this month. A prior report indicated that Innolux had been added by Apple as a third supplier of touchscreen sensors for the iPad 2.
Apple today officially launched the iPad 2 in China to lengthy lines. M.I.C. Gadget reports that the Apple Store in Beijing sold out in just four hours, while AppleInsider notes that online orders opened with a shipping estimate of one to two weeks. Both reports indicate that scalpers were seen in line and outside of the store, where they were selling units for a markup of 200-400 yuan (roughly $30-$60) over the regular prices, which start at 3688 yuan (~$568). Notably, only iPad 2 with Wi-Fi models were available, as the 3G model has yet to launch in the country. Apple COO Tim Cook said during the company’s recent Q2 2011 Financial Results Conference Call that Apple’s focus has very much been on China, where the company saw a “sea change” in sales last quarter; revenue from China was over $5 billion for the first half of the year.
Apple is closing the gap between itself and Nokia in its effort to become the world’s top smartphone vendor. According to the latest data from IDC, Apple’s Q1 2011 shipments of 18.7 million iPhones—up 115 percent year over year—were good for 18.7 percent of the market, trailing long-time leader Nokia by less than six million units. The Finnish company shipped 24.2 million units in Q1, good for a 24.3 percent share of the market, but up only 12.6 percent year-over-year. Apple was followed by BlackBerry maker RIM, with 14 percent market share, Samsung, with a 10.8 percent share, and HTC, with an 8.9 percent share of the market. Overall shipments of smartphones grew 79.7 percent year over year, from 55.4 million units in Q1 2010 to 99.6 million units in Q1 2011.
Online task management service Remember the Milk has released an update to its iOS application adding native iPad support. Remember the Milk 2.0 introduces a completely redesigned user interface for the iPad using a gesture-rich sliding panel interface for viewing categories, task lists and task details on the larger screen. The app syncs all data bi-directionally with the Remember the Milk online service, storing tasks, notes, lists, Smart Lists, tags and more for offline use when no Internet connection is available. Users of the free Remember the Milk service can synchronize manually once per day, while users with a “Pro” subscription can take advantage of immediate automatic sync with iOS 4 background completion and push notifications for badge counts and task reminders.
On the iPad, tasks can be completed or postponed using two-finger swipe gestures and users can slide task list, detail and note panels to reposition them or slide a panel off the right edge of the screen to close it. Remember the Milk 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download. A Remember the Milk account is required to use the app; automatic synchronization and push notifications require a $25/year “Pro” subscription. More details are available on the company’s blog.
Sena Cases has unveiled its new Borsetta case for the iPad 2. Designed to double as an iPad case and purse, the Borsetta is hand-crafted from premium leather with contrast stitching, and features a two-position, integrated stand, open access to all ports and controls, a braided leather strap with snap closure, a zippered purse compartment with multiple pockets, a dedicated smartphone pocket, micro velvet lining in the iPad 2 compartment, pinstriped lining in the purse compartment, and a removable, adjustable shoulder strap. Sena Cases’ Borsetta case for the iPad 2 is available now for pre-order in four colors and is expected to ship on May 27 for $140.
Apple was among a group of companies sued earlier this week over so-called “anti-poaching” agreements. The law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein announced that Apple, along with Adobe, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar, has been named in a class action lawsuit filed by former Lucasfilm engineer Siddharth Hariharan, claiming that the companies violated antitrust laws by conspiring to fix the pay of their employees and entering into “No Solicitation” agreements with each other. As noted in the announcement, an agreement between Lucasfilm and Pixar surfaced in 2005, and were soon joined by similar agreements between the other defendants; the U.S. Department of Justice finalized a settlement in September 2010 that barred Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar for participating in such agreements. The suit seeks restitution for lost compensation and treble damages for anti-competitive employment practices. [via Mac Rumors]
Incase has rolled out its new Perforated Slider Case for the iPhone 4. Compatible with both the GSM and CDMA models of iPhone 4, the hardshell case offers a perforated pattern on the front and back, a raised front edge for added screen protection, and open access to all ports, controls, and cameras. Incase’s Perforated Slider Case for iPhone 4 is available now in white or black and sells for $35.
Apple plans on delivering incremental point updates to iOS 5 over-the-air (OTA), according to a new report. Citing multiple anonymous sources, 9 to 5 Mac reports that Apple has been in talks with Verizon Wireless over the feature since early this year; similar talks with other carriers could not be confirmed. As noted in the article, some iOS updates can weigh in at over 600MB, a size that will likely need to be reduced in order to secure agreements with the carriers, and since OTA updates don’t offer users the ability to backup their device to a computer before the update begins, Apple could conceivably offer a cloud-based backup system instead. It is also expected that similar functionality would be available for the iPad and iPod touch under iOS 5; the second-generation Apple TV, which runs a variant of iOS 4.x, currently offers similar, iTunes-free update functionality.
Apple has hired Tomlinson Holman, former corporate technical director for Lucasfilm, according to a new report. Citing a tweet from tech pundit Leo Laporte, GigaOM reports that Laporte has it “on good authority” that Holman is joining Apple to “run audio.” Currently a film professor at USC, Holman is considered the primary mind behind Lucasfilm’s THX sound technology and the world’s first 10.2 surround sound system, and has received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for his contributions. According to the report, Holman also has experience designing loudspeakers and amplifiers; it is unclear what projects Holman might be involved in at Apple, or what his official title might be.
C2 Enterprises has released a new app designed to help iPad users collect and organize photos on the go, share content on social media services and sync the resulting collections to Adobe Lightroom. Photosmith provides the ability to organize, rate, tag and label photos imported from sources such as the iPad Camera Connection Kit and includes support for JPEG and Canon & Nikon RAW files. Users can view detailed EXIF information such as ISO and shutter speed and set titles, captions, descriptions and IPTC metadata. Photos can be viewed at full 100% zoom to check detail and the app supports sharing photos via Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox or e-mail in various resolutions.
A free Lightroom plug-in allows users to transfer photos from their iPad to Lightroom via Wi-Fi and sync collections, keywords, ratings, labels, EXIF and IPTC information in the process. Photos can also be imported using the standard iPad USB for better performance with metadata subsequently synced to Lightroom via Wi-Fi. Changes made in Lightroom are also synchronized back to the iPad and Lightroom keywords are automatically transferred to the iPad so they can be easily applied while on the go. Photosmith requires an iPad running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $18.
Apple has released iOS 4.3.3, the latest version of its mobile operating system for the iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM), iPod touch 3G, and iPod touch 4G. According to Apple’s release notes, the update contains changes to the iOS crowd-sourced location database cache; the update reduces the size of the cache, no longer backs up the cache to iTunes, and deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off. The database in question was the cause of a recent uproar over Apple’s supposed location tracking, leading the company to release a Q&A document in which it gave an explanation for the cache, and blamed its large size on a “bug.” iOS 4.3.3 is available now via the Update feature in iTunes; a similar update, iOS 4.2.8, is also available for the CDMA iPhone 4.
Mophie has debuted its new Juice Pack Air battery case for the fourth-generation iPod touch. Packing a 1,000 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery, the case offers up to 34 hours of additional audio or six hours of additional video playback, according to the company, and also features an integrated four LED battery status indicator, a standby/charging switch, a pass-through micro USB port for syncing and charging the touch while it’s still in the case, and open access to all ports, controls, and cameras, save for the Dock Connector. Mophie’s Juice Pack Air for the fourth-generation iPod touch is available now and sells for $50.
ColorWare is now offering its custom coloring service for the iPad 2. The company is offering customers two ways to get the service, either by purchasing a unit directly from them—prices start at $900—or by sending in their own and paying $400. Through the service, users will be able to pick individual custom colors for the rear shell, logo, and Home button, each available in glossy or soft touch finishes. ColorWare’s custom coloring services for the iPad 2 are available now.
Apple has told AT&T that there will not be a June/July launch of a new iPhone this year, according to a new report. Citing a reader submission, Mac Rumors reports that an AT&T representative stated as fact that “Apple has informed us that they do not plan to release the iPhone in the June to July timeframe, though there will be a newer version in the future.” The representative continued, “unfortunately, we have not been given a release time for the new phone. We will release this information on our website when it is available to us.” As noted in the report, it is rare that such an employee would be provided this level of information ahead of an official announcement; however, the matter-of-fact wording is interesting. A recent report suggested that Apple plans to ship the next version of the iPhone in September, with production starting in July or August.
Apple has begun airing its latest TV advertisement for the iPad 2. Entitled “If You Asked,” the 30-second spot shows iPad 2 units in a variety of settings with task-specific apps, while the narrator states, “If you ask a parent, they might call it intuitive. If you ask a musician, they might call it inspiring. To a doctor, it’s groundbreaking. To a CEO, it’s powerful. To a teacher, it’s the future. If you ask a child, she might call it magic. And if you asked us, we’d say it’s just getting started.” The new commercial is now available for viewing on Apple’s website.
This week’s featured photo is from our iPads Around the World gallery, and shows a white iPad 2 sitting in the sand on a beach in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. 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!
TechCrunch reports that Electronic Arts has acquired Australian iOS game developer Firemint. Known for popular iOS titles such as the Real Racing series and Flight Control, Firemint will now become part of EA Interactive, the parent division of EA Mobile, Pogo and Playfish. Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed at this time, although EA indicates the deal is “not material to the company.” The deal is expected to close within four weeks. [via Touch Arcade]
Update: Firemint CEO Rob Murray has revealed some additional details on the company’s blog describing the acquisition as “business as usual.” Murray notes that Firemint will remain in Australia and continue to operate with “very high levels of autonomy” with Murray continuing to run Firemint and focus on the company’s current games and customers.