New code found within iOS 5 suggests that Apple is considering releasing a unified iChat client for its mobile platform. RazorianFly points to a series of tweets from developer John Heaton, who found references to a variety of services, all consolidated under an IMService banner. Specifically, the code references iMessage, FaceTime, Jabber, and AIM; consolidating all those various messaging protocols under one application would substantially simplify messaging on the devices. Such a move could also lead to similar changes to iChat for Mac, which currently handles only the latter two protocols, while FaceTime is a separate app, and iMessage is currently unsupported on the Mac. [via Mac Rumors]
Samsung is looking to avoid a ban on sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany by introducing a redesigned version of the device. Bloomberg reports that the company has changed the frame and the location of the speakers in the new model, dubbed the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, which will go on sale as early as this week, according to Samsung spokesman Jason Kim. A German judge ruled in September that the prior Tab 10.1 was too similar to the iPad, upholding a previous injunction against the device and banning its sale in the country; Apple and Samsung, despite ties in component deals, have been engaged in a variety of patent disputes in several countries worldwide.
Just Mobile has rolled out its new Gum Max high-capacity battery pack for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other USB-charging devices. Recent recipient of the Good Design Award 2011, the Gum Max features a durable aluminum body, eight LED power indicators, a standard USB port, 10,400mAh capacity with 2.1 Amp output for fast charging of the iPad, included Dock Connector and USB-to-microUSB cables, and an included travel pouch. Just Mobile’s Gum Max high-capacity battery pack is available now and sells for $110.
Navigon has released a major update to its line of navigation apps for iOS devices adding a redesigned user interface and new map management capabilities. The Navigon 2.0 apps, available in several region-specific versions now provide a refined and more intuitive user interface, reducing complexity and making the application easier to use, especially while on the go. Users can now easily switch between different pages with animated menus and multi-touch gestures, rotate and zoom maps in any direction when in 3D mode and tap points of interest on the map to instantly add them to a route.
Navigon 2.0 also adds a new MyMaps function allowing users to manage which maps are loaded onto their device for more efficient use of on-device storage. For example, users who own the North America version can select specific U.S. states and Canadian provinces they want stored on their device with the ability to download additional regions at a later time as needed. This also reduces the size of the Navigon download and app installation package as maps for selected regions are downloaded over the air after installation using a Wi-Fi connection. In conjunction with MyMaps, users can also subscribe to a new FreshMaps feature for a one-time fee that delivers quarterly map updates with the latest verified navigation data and points of interest. Navigon 2.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 or later and available from the App Store in several versions for specific regions: Navigon North America ($40), Navigon USA ($30) and Navigon Europe ($75) as well as numerous other regional editions.
AOL has released a major update to its AIM instant messaging client for the iPhone and iPod touch sporting a new redesign from the ground up with several new features. AIM 5 adds support for storing and syncing message history across multiple devices so that all messages are more readily available, with the ability to take conversations “off the record” for privacy requirements. Group chat has also been included and enhanced to make it simpler to talk and share with multiple users and users can now share photos and locations directly in a conversation stream. The app also adds the ability to copy and paste messages, set quiet hours for muting sounds and push notifications, modify incoming message sounds and see notifications for activity on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in addition to the AIM network. AIM 5.0.1 is available from the App Store in two versions: a full version, AIM ($3) and an ad-supported AIM (Free Edition). An iPad native version is also available but has not yet been updated to version 5.0.
Tap tap tap has released an update to its popular Camera+ app for iOS, bringing back the ability to use the volume button to take photos from within the app. Camera+ was originally cast into the spotlight last year when the developer attempted to sneak in the ability to use the hardware volume button as a shutter control after having Camera+ rejected by Apple for openly including this feature and using “iPhone volume buttons in a non-standard way, potentially resulting in user confusion.” Tap tap tap resubmitted the application with a hidden preference for advanced users to manually enable the feature, but unfortunately once discovered, the application was removed from the App Store and did not return until several months later in an update that removed the hardware volume button feature entirely.
Despite Apple’s prior claims of potential “user confusion” arising from this feature, iOS 5 introduced the ability to use the hardware volume button as a shutter control in the built-in Camera app. This presumably opened the doors for Tap tap tap to release an updated version of Camera+ bringing back the original “VolumeSnap” feature from last year. The latest version, Camera+ 2.4VS seems to have been released expressly for this purpose and is available from the App Store for $1 or as a free update for current users.
Google has re-released its official Gmail app for iOS devices as an updated version properly enabling push notifications. First released two weeks ago, the application presented a push notification error when starting up, causing Google to subsequently pull the application from the App Store and promise to release an updated version. Gmail 1.0.1 is otherwise identical to the prior version, except that users will now be prompted to enable Push Notifications when first opening the app and will be able to see badge counts and receive sound and vibration alerts when new mail is received. Gmail is available from the App Store as a free download.
According to The NPD Group’s new Smartphone Track service, Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS were the top-selling mobile phone handsets in the US in third-quarter of 2011. The data shows that the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS led the top five, which also included the HTC EVO 4G, Motorola Droid 3, and Samsung Intensity II. Overall, smartphones accounted for 59 percent of all US mobile handset sales, an increase of 13 percent year-over-year. Notably, the average selling price for smarphones declined for the fourth straight quarter to $135; 64 percent of consumers who considered purchasing phones in the $200-$250 range ended up purchasing a phone for less than $200.
A new AirPlay-capable wireless speaker from Bang & Olufsen has appeared on the FCC’s website. Dubbed the Beolit 12, the system resembles a picnic basket, with a wrap-around perforated grille that recalls a wicker pattern; features include a USB port, a 3.5mm input, an Ethernet port, and what appears to be a leather carrying strap. As the system has yet to be officially announced by B&O, it is currently unclear what the price might be, or when it might become available. [via Gizmodo | Wireless Goodness]
Update, January 2012: B&O has announced that it is launching a new brand called B&O Play that will offer portable audio and video products at a “more accessible price point.” The first product to launch under the new brand is the Beolit 12. In addition to the details mentioned above, the system will offer a built-in power supply with rechargeable battery—good for eight hours of playback—and a tuck-away power cord, a hand-assembled aluminum casing, two two-inch tweeters and a four-inch woofer which are driven by a 120 watt Class D amplifier system, and the ability to recharge a connected iOS device via the USB port. It will be available starting this month for $799/€699 in dark grey and will be available this spring in other colors including yellow, blue, and light grey.
This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows a black iPhone 4 overlooking the Thimpu Valley near Cheri Mountain in Bhutan. 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!
V-Moda has introduced its new Crossfade LP2 Headphones. As a successor to the company’s original Crossfade LP, the Crossfade LP2 features little external branding, 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers, V-Port 3D staging, replaceable memory foam ear cushions for noise isolation, and is tuned using a 31-band EQ. In addition, the Crossfade LP2 includes two sets of interchangeable shields for the outside of the earcups, two detachable Kevlar-reinforced fabric audio cables—one with an Apple-friendly three-button remote, and one without—and a hard exoskeleton carrying case. V-Moda’s Crossfade LP2 is available now and sells for $199; customers can purchase an additional set of shields for $25, or can opt to have the shields customized with their own logo for $45.
Shazam has released an update to its iOS app for tagging and identifying music introducing support for viewing lyrics. Shazam is a free app that allows users to identify songs by sound through the built-in mic, providing title, album and artist information as well as links to purchase the track on the iTunes Store, view related content on YouTube and other sites or share tagged music with friends on Facebook and Twitter. With the new LyricPlay feature, Shazam can now display full-screen visualization of lyrics, played in time to the music being tagged. Shazam is available from the App Store as a free download. LyricPlay is available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.
Apple today announced that it has named Arthur D. Levinson, Ph. D. as the company’s non-executive Chairman of the Board. Levinson has served as a co-lead director of Apple’s board since 2005, and will continue to serve on the audit committee; he is also chairman of Genentech, where he served as CEO from 1995-2009. In addition, Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, will join the board and will also serve on the audit committee.
“Art has made enormous contributions to Apple since he joined the board in 2000,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “He has been our longest serving co-lead director, and his insight and leadership are incredibly valuable to Apple, our employees and our shareholders.”
“Bob and I have gotten to know one another very well over the past few years and on behalf of the entire board, we think he is going to make an extraordinary addition to our already very strong board,” said Tim Cook. “His strategic vision for Disney is based on three fundamentals: generating the best creative content possible, fostering innovation and utilizing the latest technology, and expanding into new markets around the world which makes him a great fit for Apple.”
“I am honored to be named chairman of Apple’s board and welcome Bob to our team,” said Art Levinson. “Apple is always focused on out-innovating itself through the delivery of truly innovative products that simplify and improve our lives, and that is something I am very proud to be a part of.”
“Apple has achieved unprecedented success by consistently creating high quality, truly innovative products, and I am extremely pleased to join the board of such a wonderful company,” said Bob Iger. “Over the years, I have come to know and admire the management team, now ably led by Tim Cook, and I am confident they have the leadership and vision to ensure Apple’s continued momentum and success.”
Gear4 has posted a product page for its upcoming AirZone Series 1 AirPlay stereo speaker on its U.S. website. Previously unveiled in Europe and slated for release later this month, the AirZone Series 1 offers built-in Wi-Fi, a front-mounted dock for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod, an FM radio, an auxiliary input, and an included remote control. It will sell for $300.
H2O Audio has unveiled its new Trax Custom Fit Sport Headphones. Designed to withstand rain, sweat, and rinsing off, Trax are 100% waterproof, and feature an ergonomically angled ear bud and a moldable memory wire ear hook for a secure fit, five included ear plug options, and an included storage pouch large enough to hold most iPods. H2O Audio’s Trax Custom Fit Sport Headphones are available now in green or black and sell for $40.
Spar has introduced its new line of Zephyr Bluetooth wireless speakers. The lineup includes the Zephyr 300, a pocket-sized speaker offering 12 hours of continuous play from an 800mA rechargeable battery in black, blue, or red for $100, the Zephyr 500, which offers two custom drivers, a soft-touch rubber exterior in black or white, and 18 hours of continuous play from a 1500mA battery for $130, and the Zephyr 550, which offers an aluminum body and 30 hours of play from a 3000mA battery for $160. All three models feature a built-in speakerphone, a 3.5mm input, and the ability to act as a battery pack, charging devices through the integrated USB ports. All three models are available for pre-order now and are expected to begin shipping next month.
Online shopping organizer service Slice has released an official iPhone app allowing users to easily track all of their online shopping activity while on the go. The Slice service provides users with a simple way to collect and organize information about their purchases online, saving time and money by analyzing electronic receipts, tracking order progress and taking advantage of price adjustments. The Slice app for iPhone automatically scrapes through the user’s e-mail inbox to consolidate online receipts, shipment notifications, tracking numbers, return policies and customer service information into a single, convenient view allowing users to see the status of their orders and purchases at a glance without having to track down and manually enter order information.
Push Notifications provide alerts for shipment updates as well as notifications of price drops that may have occurred since placing an order so that users can contact the retailer to recoup the difference. Shipments in-progress are tracked within the app on an integrated map view across multiple carriers along with detailed information about each package and the application also provides easy access to receipts and often hard-to-find return information to simplify the process of returning unwanted purchases. Users can also get reports containing detailed information on purchases right down to individual items, providing more useful information than can be found on a credit card statement. Slice requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest wireless carrier, remains in talks with Apple to offer the iPhone in Japan, according to a new report. Citing DoCoMo president and CEO Ryuji Yamada, the Wall Street Journal reports that certain requirements have made it difficult for the companies to come to an agreement. “We haven’t given up our hope of introducing the iPhone”, Yamada told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview, but Apple typically asks carrier to commit to a large volume of phones. “If the introduction of the iPhone results in the mass majority of our products occupied by the iPhone, then that’s a scenario that’s difficult to us to swallow.” Yamada also cited Apple’s refusal to allow carriers to pre-install their own applications—such as DoCoMo’s e-wallet app—as a potential problem. SoftBank had been the lone iPhone carrier in Japan until recently, when the handset arrived on rival carrier KDDI.
Altec Lansing, in partnership with ACS Custom, has rolled out its new Custom Series In-Ear Monitors. The lineup includes three models—the triple driver A3, dual-driver A2, and single driver A1—all of which require the users to go and have a custom ear mold created, from which the personalized monitors are crafted. Features include medical-grade silicone bodies that offer up to -27db of noise isolation and SteriTouch antimicrobial treatment, a frequency response range of 16Hz ~ 20KHz, finely tuned balanced armature drivers, and Kevlar-reinforced cables with a gold-plated 3.5mm plug and a special sheath designed to prevent noise transference. Altec Lansing’s ACS Custom Series In-Ear Monitors will be available later this month and will sell for $500 for the A1, $750 for the A2, and $1,000 for the A3.
Counterwinds has released MyPhotos, a new photo album management application for the iPhone and iPod touch. MyPhotos helps users organize and find photos in their iOS camera roll by criteria such as date and location as well as adding tags, comments and ratings to photos that can then be searched on and used to sort and group photo collections. Quick access buttons allow users to easily get a list of all photos taken on a specific date, in a specific location, or with specific tags or other metadata. MyPhotos is available from the App Store for $1.