In a recent meeting with Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer made several surprising statements about the Amazon Fire. Business Insider, citing Reitzes, claims that while the executives noted that the Fire’s $199 pricing appears to be disruptive and seems to be the iPad’s most important rising challenge, the product could also be the catalyst for further fragmentation in the tablet market, as it represents another platform—while compatible with Android, the apps work with Amazon products. Reitzes claims that the executives welcome further fragmentation in the Android ecosystem, as it could drive consumers—and likely developers—to Apple’s more stabile platform. Amazon will begin shipping the Amazon Fire on November 15.
Apple remained the top smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. in the third quarter, according to the latest data from Nielsen. Based on the data, the iPhone accounted for 28 percent of all smartphones in the U.S., while phones based on Google’s Android OS collectively represent 43 percent of the smartphone market. RIM’s BlackBerry accounted for 18 percent, Windows Phone for seven percent, and all other operating systems for four percent. Overall, smartphones now represent 43 percent of the overall U.S. cellphone market, and a “vast majority” of those under the age of 44 now own smartphones, with 62 percent of mobile adults aged 25-34 report owning one of the devices.
Apple seeded developers with iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 late last evening, and also added iTunes Match to the second-generation Apple TV under the new main menu option “Music.” According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 offers stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all subscribers to the iTunes Match beta. Apple had promised to launch iTunes Match by the end of October, but missed its self-imposed deadline earlier this week, and is evident by these new releases, is continuing to test the service ahead of its anticipated wide-scale rollout. iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 is available now as a free download from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple has released iOS 5.0.1 to its registered iOS developers. According to the release notes, the new beta—listed as build 9A402—“fixes bugs affecting battery life, adds multitasking gestures for original iPad, resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud, improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation,” and “contains security improvements.” Notably, the update also “introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations,” seemingly addressing an issue recently brought to light by Instapaper developer Marco Arment. An Apple spokesperson confirmed that some iOS 5 users were experiencing battery life issues early today, telling The Loop, “A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices[.] We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.” iOS 5.0.1 beta for the iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch is available now as a download from the iOS Dev Center.
Pandora has released an update to its universal Pandora Radio app adding new iOS 5 features including the display of Now Playing artwork and track information on the iOS Lock screen and improved integration with automative accessories. The latest update also fixes BMW/MINI integration with iOS 5, allows Pandora to stay connected to automotive accessories while in the background and provides access to upgrade to Pandora One from within the app. Pandora Radio is available from the App Store as a free download.
Thought Out has rolled out its new Stabile Coil Pro stand for the iPad and iPad 2. Like the company’s prior Naja King for the iPhone and iPod touch, the Stabile Coil Pro uses a flexible, black vinyl-wrapped coil to twist to any shape, with a steel call pivot on the end that attaches to iPad holder, with an optional Grapple attachment for the ability to grip the iPad from two sides, instead of the one provided by the standard cradle. Thought Out’s Stabile Coil Pro for the iPad and iPad 2 is available now and sells for $100.
Google has released an official Gmail application for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad providing a native Gmail experience on the iOS platform. Google has had an HTML 5 mobile web app for some time that provided an iOS enhanced experience via the Safari browser, however it suffered from the same limitations as other web applications in its inability to provide notifications and limited offline access. The new official Gmail application is designed to be fast and efficient and provides full native access to Gmail including notifications for new messages, support for threaded conversations, archiving, labelling, starring, deleting and reporting spam. The app also includes support for Gmail Priority Inbox, auto-completion of names from Google or iOS Contacts and Gmail search. Users can also send photos as attachments from directly within the app. The iPad version also provides a standard split-screen view and the application takes advantage of touch gestures such as pull down refresh and viewing labels by swiping right. Gmail is a universal app requiring iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Update: Google has removed the app from the App Store, indicating in its blog that “it contained a bug which broke notifications and caused users to see an error message when first opening the app.” The post goes onto indicate that the company is working to release an updated version soon which fixes the bug and that users who have already installed the app can continue to use it.
Square has released an update to its Square Card Case app for the iPhone and iPod touch allowing iOS 5 and iPhone 4/4S users to make credit card purchases wirelessly at participating retailers. Square Card Case is designed as a digital wallet for the iPhone allowing users to make payments and keep digital receipts from merchants using the Square payment system. The latest update adds support for iOS 5 geofencing features available on the iPhone 4 and 4S to allow users to automatically open a tab when they arrive within 100 meters of selected merchants allowing them to make purchases simply by going to the Square register and verifying their name. Merchants will then be able to confirm a customer’s identity with an image of their face in the Square iPad app and authorize payment using a credit card or debit card linked to the user’s Card Case app. Users can choose which retailers they want tabs to automatically be opened for, and tabs are automatically closed when the user leaves the 100 meter radius of a given store. Square Card Case is a free download from the App Store and remains compatible with iOS 4.1 or later although the geofencing features require iOS 5 and an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.
Apple has promoted its Senior Director of International Retail and former local store manager Steve Cano to replace outgoing executive Ron Johnson as Senior Vice President of Retail, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous source, Cult of Mac reports that Cano was previously tipped as a likely candidate to replace Johnson—who officially left Apple earlier this week to become CEO of J.C. Penney—by the Apple Retail Workers Union. As noted in the report, Cano got his start with Apple working as a store manager at the Palo Alto store—which happened to be then CEO Steve Jobs’ home store—and later moved to the SoHo store in New York, then went to manage the Ginza store in Tokyo, Japan. He was later appointed regional director as more stores were opened in Japan, and was later named Apple’s first Senior Director of International Retail, a position that saw him work out of a London office, overseeing a string a new stores in Europe. Apple has yet to confirm the report or add Cano to its online executive profiles.
Update: Cult of Mac has since updated its report to say that Apple has issued a statement saying Cano has not been named to Johnson’s former post. A company spokesperson said: “The search is underway with lots of interest and we are carefully selecting Ron’s successor. We have nothing to announce today.”
Soundfreaq has introduced its new Sound Stack Bluetooth speaker dock for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The company’s largest system, the Sound Stack offers a “2.2” channel speaker configuration, with two full-range drivers and two active subwoofers that work in a push-pull configuration to provide increased low-end response. Other features include the company’s proprietary UQ3 spacial sound enhancement, a front-mounted dock compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod, a universal USB charging port, Bluetooth for wireless music streaming, an FM radio, and the ability to be controlled by the company’s Soundfreaq Remote app for iOS. Soundfreaq’s Sound Stack Bluetooth speaker dock for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod is available now and sells for $400.
Regional carrier C Spire Wireless has announced that it will begin offering the iPhone 4S on Friday, November 11. According to the announcement, the carrier will offer Apple’s standard pricing on all models of the iPhone 4S as well as the iPhone 4, in conjunction with a new two-year contract and data plan. Interestingly, the company’s least expensive plans — the $50/mo. for 500 minutes and $70/mo. for unlimited minutes — both include “unlimited” data, which covers everything except streaming; the two more expensive offerings include true unlimited data. C Spire is now accepting pre-orders for both devices.
Following last week’s rollout of the Google+ social network to Google Apps business and education users, Google has also released an update to its Google+ iOS app enabling access for Google Apps users from the iPhone and iPod touch. In addition to Google Apps support, the latest version of Google+ also adds live typing notifications and presence indications in the built in Messenger application, support for +1 marking of photos and a number of bug fixes and performance improvements. Google+ is available from the App Store as a free download.
Second Gear has released an update to Elements, its advanced text editor for iOS devices. Elements provides online storage of text documents via Dropbox for access from a desktop computer, web browser or any other iOS device and supports the Markdown syntax for advanced text formatting. The latest version adds support for syncing scratchpad data, application settings and appearance settings between multiple iOS devices using iCloud as well as adding support for iOS 5 system-wide dictionary lookups. Users can also now copy HTML to the clipboard from the Markdown preview screen. The update also improves iCloud backups by excluding the metadata cache and includes a number of other smaller changes and fixes. Elements 2.1 is a universal app, now requires iOS 5 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.
Apple has released a free update to its highly acclaimed GarageBand music creation app adding universal device support. Chosen as iLounge’s 2011 App of the Year for iPad, GarageBand 1.1 can now be used on the iPhone and iPod touch and adds a number of other new features and enhancements including the ability to create custom chords for Smart Instruments, support for additional time signatures, the ability to transpose songs in semitones or full octaves and additional quantization options for recordings. Users can now also take advantage of additional export quality settings for AAC and uncompressed AIFF output and adjust velocity settings for Touch Instruments. The update also contains a number of other smaller enhancements including automatic fading, and arpeggiator control on the Smart Keyboard and improved audio import options. GarageBand 1.1 requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.
Twelve South has debuted its new PlugBug iPad/iPhone Charger + MacBook Plug Attachment. Designed to piggyback onto Apple’s MacBook Power Adapter, the PlugBug features a red body with a single USB port, offering 10 watts of power for the fastest possible charging of an iPad or iPhone, and allows the user to charge both a MacBook and an iPad or iPhone from a single outlet. The PlugBug also functions as a standalone wall charger for iPads, iPhones, and iPods, and is available now for $35.
Along with our 2012 iPhone + iPod Buyers’ Guide, iLounge today announced the recipients of its 2011 Best of the Year and Readers’ Choice Awards. Encompassing the very best releases from the last 12 months, the Awards featured several multiple award winners, including Bowers & Wilkins, LunaTik, Gameloft, Speck Products, and Apple; single 2011 Best of the Year Award recipients include Epic Games, Ideal Binary, iHome, Logitech, Nosy Crow, Rovio, Scosche, and SuperTooth. For full details on the winners, runners-up, and hundreds of other accessories and applications, download the 2012 iPhone + iPod Buyers’ Guide, available immediately for free.
Hog Bay Software has updated its TaskPaper to-do list app with a redesigned codebase and UI and new synchronization options. TaskPaper 2.0 replaces the prior Simpletext.ws sync with Dropbox synchronization and switches from W-Fi sharing to iTunes Document Sharing for local file transfer. The new version also now allows customization for fonts and colours, introduces a customizable extended keyboard and supports printing of lists via AirPrint. TaskPaper 2.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $10.
Apple today announced that it will launch the iPhone 4S in Hong Kong, South Korea, and 13 other countries on Friday, November 11, with pre-orders beginning this Friday, November 4. The complete list of countries also includes Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal, and Romania; pre-orders will not be available in Albania, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro, and Panama. According to the announcement, the iPhone 4S is currently available in 29 countries and will be available in more than 70 by the end of the year.
Flipboard has released an update to its popular iPad content aggregation app adding iOS 5 support and customizable font sizes. Flipboard 1.5.3 now allows users to choose normal, large or extra-large fonts for reading articles, captions and comments. The update also adds native iOS 5 Twitter integration allowing users to use their iOS configured Twitter accounts to sign in without having to re-enter a username and password within the app. The latest version also addresses several other bugs and improves general iOS 5 compatibility, including a fix for an issue that caused Flipboard to take up an abnormal amount of space on the iPad for some users. Flipboard 1.5.3 is available from the App Store as a free download.