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PCalc 2.4 released

James Thomson has decided to release PCalc 2.4 following indications earlier today that he was considering delaying its release due to a series of widespread patent claims against Thomson and several other iOS developers. PCalc 2.4 adds several new features including a “Frac” button on many layouts for faster fraction entry and swap buttons in the conversion section for quickly setting the base unit. Support for several new unit conversions has also been added including lighting units such as lumens and footcandles and inches and millimetres of mercury and water for pressure conversions. Users can also now choose to disable auto-lock while using the app and several new digit styles have been added and improved along with numerous other small fixes and enhancements.

PCalc is available in two versions: PCalc Lite Calculator is a free version that provides advanced calculator functionality including an optional RPN mode, basic unit conversions and two themes, with additional options available via in-app purchase such as engineering and scientific notation support, hexadecimal, octal and binary calculations and additional themes. Alternatively, users can purchase the full version, PCalc RPN Calculator for $10 which includes all of the optional modules. Both versions are universal apps supporting the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

More companies join opposition to ‘App Store’ trademark

Microsoft and Nokia have joined the opposition to Apple’s “App Store” trademark claim in Europe. Macworld UK reports that both Sony Ericsson and HTC have joined the effort to block the trademark claim, which the companies claim is too generic, and should be available for any company to use for stores that sell applications. “Both terms lack distinctiveness and so the registrations should not have been granted,” said a Nokia spokeswoman. According to the report, the move to block Apple’s trademarks in Europe was started by Amazon last month; Microsoft is also trying to block Apple’s “App Store” trademark request in the U.S., while Apple has filed suit against Amazon in the U.S. over its use of the term.

iOS devs threatened over in-app purchase patent claims

TUAW reports that several iOS developers have received claims of patent infringement over in-app purchasing within iOS applications, all apparently from the company Lodsys. James Thomson, UK-based developer of the popular PCalc calculator apps sent out a tweet earlier this morning stating that he had just received a package of legal papers via FedEx advising him that he is infringing a company’s patent and has 21 days to license it. Thomson also noted that his latest update to PCalc Lite was approved by Apple this morning, but that he has decided to delay the release to avoid the potential of “hurt[ing] any future case.”

Patrick McCarron of Chicago-based iOS developer MobileAge also confirmed via Twitter that he had received a similar patent threat via FedEx for in-app purchase use, most likely from the same company, although both developers have declined to disclose the other party involved in the complaint. Both have contacted Apple Legal for further guidance as the infringement claim concerns the use of Apple’s in-app purchase technology built into the iOS operating system rather than any specific feature that has been created by the developers themselves.

An additional report from Mac Rumors reveals that Rob Gloess of Computer LogicX has also received a legal complaint regarding the use of an “Upgrade” button in the lite version of his application Mix & Mash, providing users with a link to the full version in the App Store. The documents that Gloess received make the claim that the “button that users click on to upgrade the app was in breach of US patent no 7222078.” Mac Rumors reveals that the patent in question was filed in 2003 and is connected to patent holding firm Lodsys, which purchased the patents from the original holder in 2004 and has been revealed as the company issuing lawsuit threads in the Computer LogicX case. 

Update: Lodsys also launched a patent infringement suit earlier this year against Brother, Canon, HP, Hulu, Lenovo, Lexmark, Motorola, Novell, Samsung, and Trend Micro alleging infringement of the same patent 7,222,078, “Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network” among several others. Several companies named in the earlier suit have recently responded stating that the Lodsys “patents and invalid and unenforceable.”

ITC rules in favor of Kodak in Apple patent dispute

A U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) judge has ruled that Eastman Kodak did not infringe on Apple’s patented technology for digital cameras. Reuters reports that the full ITC will need to either uphold or reject the ruling; a decision is due on September 19. A ruling in Kodak’s case against Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion, in which it claims that companies infringed on a patent for putting cameras in mobile phones, is expected on May 23. The report notes that Kodak settled similar patent disputes with LG and Samsung in 2009 and 2010, receiving $400 million and $550 million, respectively, from the companies to secure licenses for its technology.

SwitchEasy rolls out Nude case for iPad 2

SwitchEasy has rolled out its Nude case for the iPad 2. Like the company’s prior Nude case for the first-generation iPad, the Nude for iPad 2 is made from a strong polycarbonate material, and offers a thickness of just 1.8mm, a Duo UV Scratch Resistant glossy coating, open access to all ports, controls, cameras, and speakers, and a host of included add-ons, such as two portable fold-out stands, an anti-static screen protector, a microfiber wipe, a squeegee for screen protector application, two headphone port protectors, and two 30-pin port protectors. SwitchEasy’s Nude case for the iPad 2 is available in black, white, blue, pink, green, red, and clear, and sells for $30.

Samsung to show high-res tablet screen prototype

Samsung has announced that it will be demonstrating a 10.1-inch, 2560x1600 display at the SID Display Week 2011 International Symposium, which runs from May 17-19. According to the release, the display uses PenTile RGBW technology, which allows for the 300 dpi resolution. “Samsung’s PenTile display technology is the only display technology that operates at 40 percent less power yet provides twice that of Full HD-viewing performance for consumers compared to legacy RGB stripe LCDs. There is no other commercial display technology on the market today that offers this high of a resolution and pixel density in a 10.1-inch size display,” said Dr. Sungtae Shin, Senior VP of Samsung Electronics. As noted by TUAW, while the screen size and pixel density do appear to confirm that an iPad-sized Retina Display is possible, it is extremely unlikely that Apple would use this particular part in a future iPad, due to its larger size and resolution beyond that of a pixel-doubled iPad display.

Backflip Studios releases Army of Darkness Defense

Backflip Studios has released a new casual defense game for iOS based on the cult classic movie Army of Darkness. In Army of Darkness Defense, players take on the role of Ash, the time-travelling sales clerk who must defend Lord Arthur’s castle from hordes of evil undead and protect the Necronomicon in order to return home. The game uses a tug-of-war play style with fully animated graphics, an original music score and dozens of quotes from the movie voiced by Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams. The player can summon a wide variety of allies and special abilities to assist in the castle’s defense and must fight their way through fifty initial waves with an optional unlockable endless wave at the end. Awards and leaderboards are available through Game Center integration. Separate versions are available and both are on sale for a limited time; Army of Darkness for the iPhone and iPod touch is currently priced at $1 and Army of Darkness HD for iPad users currently sells for $3.

Tweebot 1.1 adds landscape support and more

Tapbots has updated its Twitter client for the iPhone adding landscape support and several other new features. Tweetbot 1.1 now allows users to compose tweets and view media and web content in landscape view, although the main timeline view remains portrait only. The new version also adds shortcut buttons to the compose toolbar for looking up usernames and hashtags and provides CloudApp support for image and video uploads. Additional enhancements include better accuracy for displayed locations, alphabetical sorting of Twitter lists, better presentation of tweet gaps and numerous other bug fixes and small improvements. Tweetbot requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.1 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.

Incase debuts Bird’s Nest case for iPhone 4

Incase has debuted its new Bird’s Nest Snap Case for the iPhone 4. Based on the structure of natural avian shelters, the Bird’s Nest is a snap-on hardshell case featuring openings in a “woven” pattern, open access to all ports and controls, and compatibility with both the GSM and CDMA versions of the iPhone 4. Incase’s Bird’s Nest Snap Case for the iPhone 4 is available now in black or steel and sells for $35.

Quickoffice for iPhone adds PowerPoint support

Quickoffice has released a major update to its Microsoft Office document editing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch. Formerly known as Quickoffice Mobile Suite and Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, as of version 4.0 the apps have been renamed to simply Quickoffice and Quickoffice Pro, respectively. Version 4.0 provides iPhone and iPod touch users with several new features previously introduced in the iPad version including PowerPoint support and SmartTouch editing. Quickoffice 4.0 users can now create, edit, view and save PowerPoint presentations including extensive rich-text editing, viewing of presentations on external monitors and the ability to edit and manipulate graphics within slideshows. Additional PowerPoint features include support for rearranging slides, filmstrip navigation for quickly jumping to a specific slide and a built-in virtual laser pointer for giving presentations.

Version 4.0 also adds SmartTouch technology designed specifically for the iPhone touchscreen interface improving the ease of editing documents, presentations and spreadsheets and quickly formatting content. Quickoffice Pro 4.0 also adds the ability to connect to Huddle and SugarSync online services in addition to the numerous online services such as Google Docs, Dropbox and available in the prior version. Both apps are currently selling at discounted prices: Quickoffice 4.0 is $5 for new users and is a free update for users of Quickoffice Mobile Suite; Quickoffice Pro 4.0 is $10 for new users and a free update for users of Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite. The iPad version, Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPad, is available separately for $15.

Otterbox intros Defender Series case for iPad 2

Otterbox has introduced its new Defender Series case for the iPad 2. Joining a memory foam-lined inner polycarbonate shell with an exterior silicone skin, the Defender offers multi-layer protection, an integrated Dock Connector door, push-through or open access to all other ports, controls, and cameras, and an included clip-on touch screen cover with fold-out stand. Otterbox’s Defender Series case for the iPad 2 is listed as coming soon and will sell for $90.

Netflix for iOS adds subtitles

Netflix has released an update to its universal iOS app adding subtitle support. Netflix 1.3 allows users to selectively display subtitles when available for listening in loud environments or to display English-language subtitles on foreign language films. Users can determine whether content includes subtitles by looking at the languages indicated in the “Details” section on the left side of the movie page which will list both the primary and additional language soundtracks and which subtitle languages are available. Netflix is available from the App Store as a free download. A Netflix membership is required to use the app.

Mix: 100 iAds, iPad preference, digital music, iFlowReader

Apple has launched its 100th iAd campaign, according to The Loop. The report states that the 100th campaign, from real estate firm Coldwell Banker, began in late March and has performed well thus far, garnering tap rates five times higher than a normal online banner and an average of 11 pages viewed per visit. As noted in the report, iAd is now live in seven countries; Apple recently lowered the initial buy-in for iAds from $1 million to $500,000, allowing companies with smaller budgets to join the program.

Citing new data from Context, Cult of Mac reports that the 64GB iPad 2 with 3G is the most popular iPad 2 model in Western Europe. According to the report, the higest-end iPad 2 represented 33 percent of all sales tracked; when combined with sales of the 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad 2 —the least expensive model available—they accounted for more than half of all iPad 2 sales in the region.

Sales of digital music helped drive overall U.S. music sales up 1.6 percent thus far in 2011, according to new data from the Nielsen Company. Through May 8, digital album and track purchases were up 16.8 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively, year-over-year, as digital retailers received more than half of all music transactions. Catalog album sales are also up 5.4 percent in 2011, in part due to The Beatles’ catalog being available on iTunes; interestingly, vinyl sales are up 37 percent year-over-year, despite accounting for just 1.2 percent of all physical sales.

BeamItDown Software has announced that it will no longer be supporting its iOS eBook reading solution iFlowReader and will be shutting down on May 31. According to a lengthy post on the iFlowReader website, the company explains that “Apple has made it completely impossible for anyone but Apple to make a profit selling contemporary ebooks on any iOS device. We cannot survive selling books at a loss and so we are forced to go out of business. We bet everything on Apple and iOS and then Apple killed us by changing the rules in the middle of the game.”

The Omni Group releases OmniOutliner for iPad

The Omni Group has released the much-anticipated iPad version of OmniOutliner, its popular outlining and note-taking app for the Mac. OmniOutliner for iPad provides users with the ability to collect and organize structured information ranging from to-do lists and agendas to laying out basic project plans and writing outlines. The application provides rich-text support with a simplified styling system, easy rearranging and grouping of rows and multiple column formats supporting numbers, text, pop-ups lists and more. Images can be pasted directly into OmniOutliner documents for inline display and the app supports inline notes and active linking of URLs to web content and other supported iOS data types.

OmniOutliner documents are completely interchangeable with OmniOutliner 3 on the Mac and can be transferred over USB via iTunes File Sharing, e-mailed or uploaded to MobileMe or other WebDAV servers. Documents can also be exported to and sent out in dynamic HTML, plain text or Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) for sharing with other users. The iPad version also provides for direct import of OPML files. OmniOutliner for iPad requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $20. The app can be used as a standalone application or along with OmniOutliner for Mac, sold separately.

Tuned turns top iTunes songs into music trivia game

Darren Murtha Design, developer of popular iOS apps such as Drawing Pad and Unnecessary Censorship, have released a new iOS game that challenges users to identify songs based on song previews from the iTunes Store’s Top 50 Hits. Users are presented with the iTunes song previews and are given a set of multiple-choice options to attempt to identify each song artist within a set time limit. Points are earned for correct answers with more points for answering faster and additional multipliers for consecutive correct answers. Game Center and Facebook integration allow players to challenge their friends and try to earn achievements and since the app is based on popular music from the iTunes Store the songs and questions change automatically on a daily basis. The basic version of Tuned is a free, iAd supported app that allows users to simply play the Top 50 Hits in single-player mode; a $1 in-app purchase unlocks additional game modes including two-player games, Top 100, Top 300 and all All Genres as well as removing iAds. Tuned requires a 3G or Wi-Fi connection and is available from the App Store as a free download.

50% of iPad mag subscribers opt-in for personal info sharing

Nearly half of all iPad users who purchase a magazine subscription through the App Store are allowing Apple to share personal information with the publisher. Forbes reports that the figure, which came from Mark Edmiston, founder of the tablet magazine studio Nomad Editions, has been confirmed by Apple’s vice president of Internet services Eddy Cue. “So, all the sudden, what was an insurmountable obstacle no longer is,” said Edmiston. The surprising statistic may present a large part of the answer as to why more publishers are choosing to offer subscriptions for iPad versions of their magazines via the App Store; the presumed lack of access to this information was cited as a point of contention in Apple’s negotiations with publishers. [via Mac Rumors]

myStarbucks adds QR code support

Starbucks has updated its official iPhone application adding support for scanning QR codes. myStarbucks allows iPhone and iPod touch users to quickly locate nearby open stores, explore Starbucks coffee products and build custom Starbucks drinks that can be shared via e-mail, SMS, Facebook or Twitter. The latest update adds the ability for users of camera-equipped devices running iOS 4.0 or later to scan QR codes in Starbucks locations to easily look up additional information on a product or take advantage of special in-store promotions. The update also adds information on new summer products and menu items and addresses bugs in the prior version. myStarbucks is available from the App Store in select countries as a free download.

AmpliTube adds VocaLive effects

IK Multimedia has released an update to AmpliTube adding support for adding effects from its companion VocaLive application. AmpliTube is a mobile guitar and bass effects processor that allows users to turn their iOS device into a complete guitar rig and mobile recording studio. With the latest update, AmpliTube users can now purchase five VocaLive effects, Choir, Morph, Pitch Fix, Doubler and De-Esser via in-app purchase as either a complete set or purchase specific effects individually. The update also includes a new enhanced preset system making it easier to manage effects presets and favourites and adds a vocal and solo eliminator to the Speed Trainer function similar to the feature found in VocaLive. AmpliTube is available from the App Store in different versions: the full version of AmpliTube for the iPhone and iPod touch and the full version of AmpliTube for iPad sell separately for $20 each. Lower-priced and free versions of each app are also available with effects and other features available a la carte via in-app purchase.

Gameloft releases Starfront: Collision HD

Gameloft has released an iPad version of its popular real-time strategy game, Starfront: Collision (iLounge rating: B+). As with other Gameloft iPad titles, Starfront: Collision HD is a separate purchase from the iPhone and iPod touch version released in February, bringing the RTS game to the larger iPad screen. The new version provides the same gameplay elements as its iPhone and iPod touch counterpart, putting the player in the role of one of three races vying for control of rare Xenodium crystals on the planet Sinistral. The same twenty-mission campaign mode and skirmish modes are available with 24 different buildings and 30 unit types across the three races and a four-player online multiplayer mode via Gameloft’s own “Gameloft Live” service. Notably, the new version does not appear to offer any iPad-specific enhancements or user interface changes as compared to the earlier iPhone and iPod touch version. Starfront: Collision HD is available from the App Store for $7.

Apple releases Apple TV Software Update 4.2.2

Apple has released Apple TV Software Update 4.2.2, the latest software update for its second-generation set-top box. Apple has yet to update its Apple TV software update support page, so it is unclear what bug fixes or other improvements might be included in the update.  Apple TV Software Update 4.2.2 is available now via the device’s software update feature.

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