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CE Week 2011 begins next week, live coverage here!

The Consumer Electronics Association will hold its CE Week 2011 event next week in New York City, and iLounge will be on hand to provide coverage. As part of the event, there will be a special iLounge + NYC section of CE Week’s Line Shows dedicated to products for the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and will feature Summer/Fall 2011 lineup unveilings from various companies including iHome, Incipio, Monster, and Scosche. CE Week 2011 runs from June 20-25, while the Line Shows will be held June 22-23 at 7 West 34th Street. We look forward to showing you what’s new in the Apple accessory world, live from the show!

Apple confirms Verizon iPad 2 recall

Apple has confirmed that it has been forced to recall a number of CDMA iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G units. “Duplicate MEID codes were flashed onto an extremely small number of iPad units for the Verizon 3G network,” an Apple spokeswoman told Reuters. MEID, or mobile equipment identifier, is a unique number used to identify a device when it connects to the network, and must be unique for each device. Apple declined to say how many units were affected; the company is replacing affected units that were already sold with new ones.

Nuance Dictation in iOS 5, unlocked iPhones coming to U.S. Apple Stores?

Twitter user Chronic, a past source of Apple leaks, posted a couple of interesting notes this weekend pertaining to iOS 5 and the iPhone. In one post, he links to a pair of screenshots purportedly from an iOS 5 device showing Internal Settings menus that contain options related to Nuance speech recognition technologies. One shot references a Mic on the space key, and the other Nuance Dictation, suggesting that iOS 5 users will have the option to tap a button on the virtual keyboard to start/stop dictation as an alternative to manually typing out a message. In the second, he claims that unlocked iPhones are headed to U.S. Apple Stores for a Wednesday rollout, with the following part numbers: MC603 (16GB, Black) MC604 (16GB, White) MC605 (32GB, Black) MC606 (32GB, White). If true, it would mark the first time Apple Stores in the U.S. offered unlocked iPhones; there is a possibility that the rollout could take place on Tuesday instead.

Apple sued over ‘iCloud’ moniker

A company named iCloud Communications has filed suit against Apple, alleging infringement over the name of the company’s new iCloud service. The Next Web reports that iCloud Communications is claiming Apple’s heavy promotion of the new service is damaging to its business, which it contends are closely related to the services that Apple’s iCloud will offer. As noted by Mac Rumors, iCloud Communications does not appear to hold any registered trademarks associated with the iCloud name. The suit is seeking an injunction barring Apple from using the iCloud name, destruction of all marketing materials and other items referencing to the service, and monetary damages.

Additional social contact features found in iOS 5

Additional social contact integration features have been discovered in the beta version of iOS 5. AllThingsD reports that when adding a new contact in iOS 5 beta, alongside the option to add a contact’s Twitter username are fields for adding Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Myspace usernames. Clicking on the account name opens up a Safari window with that person’s page on the related service; it is unclear whether Apple has further, Twitter-like integration planned for these other services in the final release, or whether the features will be removed prior to the public launch.

Apple files motion to intervene in Lodsys suit

Apple has filed a motion to intervene in the patent infringement lawsuit filed by Lodsys against seven third-party iOS developers. FOSS Patents reports that if the court grants Apple’s motion to participate as an intervenor—something the publication feels is “fairly likely”—Apple will have already submitted its answer to Lodsys’ complaint, as well as a counterclaim. The report also notes that while no one has yet confirmed that Apple has agreed to cover those developers’ costs and potential risks, it is unlikely the situation could work in any other manner. In its motion, Apple states that the defendants “are individuals or small entities with far fewer resources than Apple and [...] lack the technical information, ability, and incentive to adequately protect Apple’s rights under its license agreement.”

Apple’s proposed defense against Lodsys is related to the assertion that the alleged infringements are covered by an existing Apple license. Lodsys’ claims are related to the developers’ apps’ use of In-App Purchases and “upgrade” buttons. Interestingly, an unrelated company—ForeSee Results of Michigan—filed a declaratory judgement suit against Lodsys’ four patents earlier this week, seeking to have them invalidated.

Joby updates GorillaMobile Yogi, Ori for iPad 2

Joby has released updated versions of its GorillaMobile Yogi and GorillaMobile Ori accessories for the iPad 2. Originally debuted at the 2010 International CES iLounge Pavilion for the first-generation iPad, the GorillaMobile Ori is a protective case with a unique folding design that allows it to double as a versatile stand. It features four main viewing modes—for both vertical and horizontal use—as well as aluminum/polypropylene construction, open access to all ports, controls, and cameras, and now has a magnet in the screen cover to activate the automatic lock/unlock feature of the iPad 2. It sells for $70. Also shown at CES in original iPad form was the GorillaMobile Yogi, a flexible mount + case featuring oversized ball and socket legs that allow it to wrap around a variety of surfaces, serve as a basic stand, and offer a variety of viewing angles in both vertical and horizontal orientation. The legs attach to a detachable polycarbonate case with a rubber bumper and open access to all ports, controls, and cameras. The GorillaMobile Yogi for iPad 2 sells for $40; both the Ori and Yogi are available now.

Apple replaces stolen iPad for thief, leaves victim hanging

In a new twist on an old problem with stolen Apple devices, a thief successfully convinced the Apple Store to swap a stolen iPad 2 for a new device with a different serial number, after which Apple refused to help the victim of the crime. iLounge reader Dan Chang says that he purchased a black 64GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G from the Apple Store Tysons Corner in May, and the device was stolen less than a week later. Chang filed a police report and was told that the iPad’s serial number would show up as a stolen item if sold to a pawn shop. On June 6, Chang used Apple’s Service and Repair tool to check the serial number of the stolen iPad, and received the following message: “We’re sorry, but this is a serial number for a product that has been replaced… If your information is correct, you may need to contact us.”

Chang followed the instructions and contacted Apple Customer Service, providing the company with his serial number. Apple confirmed that the iPad 2 had been replaced at another local Apple Store based on a battery-related complaint, and told Chang to visit the Store in person to discuss the matter. During his visit, the manager told Chang that she was not responsible for his stolen iPad, and told him to call Apple Customer Service, which he had already done.

Again following instructions, Chang was told that the iPad had been “recycled” and was no longer traceable; further, the representative said that Apple was not responsible for the stolen item, and that he should contact the police to try and catch the thief. In the end, Chang ended up without his $870 iPad 2, which he says he will not be replacing with another iPad or any other Apple product. He says he wishes that the thief had taken the stolen iPad to a pawn shop, where at least it could have been reclaimed thanks to the serial number tracking system, instead of to an Apple Store, where it was accepted with no questions asked and with no recourse available to the victim. The absence of a simple online Apple tool enabling users to report the loss or theft of their devices is at least partially to blame for this problem.

Apple recalling Verizon 3G iPad 2 units?

Apple has recalled a select batch of Verizon 3G iPad 2 units, according to a new report. Citing a number of customer complaints on Apple’s Support Communities board, 9 to 5 Mac reports that a batch of Verizon iPad 2 units—most, if not all of them engraved—were shipped out to customers directly from China, in some cases reaching the customers’ local facilities before being redirected to Apple’s Elk Grove offices per Apple’s request. The report also cites an anonymous Apple Store employee, who claims that Apple has given all the stores a list of serial numbers to scan, and if a given unit is a match, it is to be set aside and shipped back to Apple. The employee claimed that the serial numbers cover only Verizon units, and that he or she personally had over one hundred to send back. Apple is offering two accessories of the customers’ choice to those who had their online order shipped—and thus charged to their cards—only to see it recalled. It is currently unclear what the problem with the recalled units might be.

Update: 9 to 5 Mac has indicated that the problem may be related to an inability of the recalled units to let users view or edit account information once they are activated with Verizon.

Report: iTunes in the Cloud not coming to UK this year

Apple won’t be launching its iTunes in the Cloud service in the UK until 2012, according to a new report. Citing a spokesman for the Performing Right Society, a group that ensures composers, songwriters, and publishers are paid for their work, the Telegraph reports that talks between Apple and UK-based labels are in their early stages. “The licensing team at the PRS have started talks with Apple, but are a long way off from any deals being signed,” the spokesman said. “It is very much the early stages of the negotiations and is similar to the launch of iTunes – which began in the US and took a while to roll out to other countries.” An executive from one of the major record labels echoed the sentiment, saying, “Tentative talks have begun between the major labels and Apple in the UK. However, all talks are at the really early stages and no one expects to see the cloud music service live on this side of the pond until 2012.” Apple has yet to announce any expected rollout dates for its iTunes in the Cloud service, or any other part of its iCloud service, outside the U.S. [via MDN]

Apple removes restrictions on In-App Purchases, Subscriptions

In another change to its App Store Review Guidelines, Apple has removed several widely criticized restrictions it put in place with the launch of In-App Subscriptions, according to a Mac Rumors report. Perhaps most importantly, the new terms no longer demand that any content or subscriptions sold outside an app must also be available via In-App Purchase for the same or lower price. The prior text of section 11.13 read: “Apps can read or play approved content (magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video) that is sold outside of the app, for which Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues, provided that the same content is also offered in the app using IAP at the same price or less than it is offered outside the app. This applies to both purchased content and subscriptions.” The decision to attempt to control pricing outside third-party apps drew the ire of many companies, some of which threatened to leave the App Store altogether should they have gone into effect on June 30 as expected.

Section 11.13 has since been replaced by section 11.14, which reads: “Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content. Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app.” This is a significant change in policy, and should help encourage more publishers and media companies to release offerings for iOS.

Namco releases Galaga 30th Anniversary Collection

In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the classic arcade shooter Galage, Namco Bandai Games America has released Galaga 30th Collection for iOS. A universal app, the Galaga Collection includes access to the redesigned and modernized remakes of the four classic Galaga series titles: Galaxian, Galaga, Gaplus and Galaga 88 all in one app. The free app includes the Galaxian G 30th Edition and 30th anniversary opening movie with the other three game titles available via in-app purchase. The games feature updated graphics for the iOS platform, optimized touch-panel controls and leaderboards and achievements through Apple’s Game Center that can also be shared via Twitter and Facebook from directly within the app. Players can earn Galaga points that can then be used to upgrade and customize their fighter and aim for high scores with a new score attack mode. Galaga 30th Collection Requires iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. Additional game titles are available via in-app purchase for $3 each or $8 for all three.

Peggle adds Retina Display support

PopCap has released an update to its popular Peggle game for the iPhone and iPod touch adding long-awaited Retina Display support.
Peggle challenges players to clear pegs by firing a ball into the playing field and hitting pegs either directly or by rebounding the ball off other objects. Special colored pegs offer additional points and power-ups and players can choose either Quick Play or progress through an Adventure mode where they train with Peggle Masters and learn to use special power-ups to master more complex shots. The basic edition of Peggle includes 55 levels and 40 Grand Master Challenges with an additional Peggle Nights expansion pack available via in-app purchase. Peggle 1.5 now provides stunning high-resolution graphics on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch Retina Display that greatly enhances the game experience. Peggle is available from the App Store for $3.

Plants vs Zombies releases major content update

PopCap has released an update to its acclaimed Plants vs Zombies for the iPhone and iPod touch adding new content, minigames and achievements. Version 1.6 adds a new Zen Garden where users can collect, grow and care for their own collection of plants that will produce coins that can be spent in Crazy Dave’s shop. New minigames such as Zombiquarium, Zombotany and Raining Seeds have also been added to Crazy Dave’s shop, along with new Game Center achievements to unlock. Plants vs Zombies 1.6 is available from the App Store for $3.

iOS 5 Mix: Panorama, 1080p video, Custom alerts, more

Code within the new iOS 5 beta suggests that Apple is planning to enable a built-in panorama function into the Camera app. 9 to 5 Mac reports that various panorama-related code snippets, including PANO_OPTION = “Take Panorama”, SAVING_PANORAMA = “Saving Panorama”, and CANCEL_PANO_BUTTON_TITLE = “Cancel”, have been found in the beta code. Apple has in the past included code in iOS beta releases that didn’t appear in the initial release; it is also possible that the code pertains to a feature that will be specific to some yet-unannounced device. In addition, the publication has found that iOS 5 has the ability to setup an Airport base station from within the Wi-Fi Networks menu, and also supports playback of 1080p video files on the iPad 2.

iLounge has discovered that in iOS 5, users can customize the alert sounds for New Mail, Sent Mail, and Calendar alerts, and that the prior “Syncing” progress screen has been replaced by a status bar indicator. Images of both can be found below.

Sprint iPhone in late testing phase?

A version of the iPhone for Sprint is in advanced testing, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, 9 to 5 Mac reports that the physical design of the device is similar to the current iPhone 4, leading them to believe that the device might be the so-called iPhone 4S with support for all carriers. The report also states that Apple ordered Sprint-compatible cell towers for on-campus testing in late 2010, and that the device is also “making the rounds” among members of Sprint’s research and development department. Notably, the report also states that the Sprint-compatible iPhone currently in testing is not compatible with the carrier’s 4G network. A recent Apple job posting for a Carrier Engineer in Kansas City, MO—close to Sprint’s headquarters—suggested that Apple may be planning to offer a version of the iPhone on Sprint, lending credence to this latest report.

Apple moves to block DUI checkpoint apps

Apple has revised its App Store Review Guidelines to prevent the approval of any new DUI checkpoint apps. According to Autoblog, Section 22.8 of the new Guidelines states, “Apps which contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving, will be rejected.” The update follows growing interest from the U.S. government in such apps, including a letter sent to Apple asking the company to remove any apps that inform users of DUI checkpoints. As noted in the report, while the developers of such apps might be able to remove DUI-specific functionality, most apps that identify law enforcement areas and speed traps are crowd-sourced, and it may therefore be quite difficult to stop users from submitting checkpoints themselves without the developers’ knowledge.

Jaybird ships JF3 Freedom Bluetooth Buds

Jaybird is now shipping its JF3 Freedom Bluetooth Buds. Originally shown at the 2010 International CES iLounge Pavilion, the Freedom Bluetooth Buds are small, in-ear headphones with a small control box attached to each. Each bud is sealed against sweat and moisture, and the left ear bud features controls for volume, play, pause, next and back track, and phone calls, as well as an integrated microphone. Other features include Bluetooth 2.1+EDR technology, an integrated rechargeable battery good up to six hours of talk or music playback, three sizes of specially-designed ear cushions to help the earbuds stay in place during movement, three sizes of ear tips, and an included carrying case. Jaybird’s JF3 Freedom Bluetooth Buds are available now and sell for $100.

IvySkin intros Wrangler Case for iPhone 4

IvySkin has introduced its new Wrangler Case for the iPhone 4. Based on the company’s prior SmartCase, the Wrangler Case features an all-new polarized glass Touch-Thru screen guard, integrated protection for the volume, sleep/wake, and Home buttons, integrated port covers for the Dock Connector and headphone jack, open access to the bottom microphone, speaker, and cameras, a two-piece design, compatibility with both GSM and CDMA iPhone 4 models, an inner lining of shock absorbing material, and an exterior made from solid polycarbonate. IvySkin’s Wrangler Case for the iPhone 4 is available now in a variety of colors and sells for $50.

Magellan RoadMate hits 2.0, adds lifetime maps, local search

Magellan has released version 2.0 of its RoadMate North America turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone, brining with it several new features and improvements. Version 2.0 offers new user interface elements for mobile routing, leverages Yelp to integrate reviews of local businesses, features Google local search and maps of the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, and comes with free Lifetime map updates, whereby “free” is defined as the life of the product or three years. Version 2.0 of Magellan’s RoadMate North America app for the iPhone is available now on the App Store for $60 and is a free update for existing users; the same functionality has been added to its RoadMate USA app, which is available from the App Store for $50.

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