Former Palm CEO and Apple senior vice president Jon Rubenstein has left HP effective today. AllThingsD reports that Rubenstein is said to have no immediate plans after fulfilling a 12-24 month commitment to stay at the company following its acquisition of Palm. “Jon has fulfilled his commitment and we wish him well,” said HP spokeswoman Mylene Mangalindan. Rubenstein, commenting to AllThingsD, said, “I am going to take a well deserved break after four and a half years of developing webOS.” Best known for his work on the iPod—he was senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division when he left the company—Rubenstein joined the private equity firm Elevation Partners shortly after it invested in Palm, and became Palm CEO in 2009 before taking an executive position at HP after the acquisition.
Gear4 has announced that it will soon launch its Renew SleepClock system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod in the United States. Sporting a top-mounted dock, the SleepClock uses an advanced no-contact sensor to sense the users’ breathing rate, when they’re in light or deep sleep, if they leave their bed at night, and when they’re trying to go to sleep—adjusting their sleep soundtrack appropriately in the latter case, and waking them at the most appropriate time within a pre-set wake-up range. Other features include integration with the free Renew app for tracking sleep patterns over time, built-in speakers, an FM radio, and the ability to charge the docked device. Gear4’s Renew SleepClock will be available in the U.S. beginning in March and will sell for $200.
Samsung has lost its second patent infringement against Apple in Germany. A spokesman for the Regional Court in Mannheim, Joachim Bock, told Bloomberg that the suit—related to three telecommunications standards—has been rejected, while Samsung claims that the ruling relates to only one of several patents asserted against Apple. “We are disappointed that the court did not share our views regarding the infringement by Apple of this specific patent,” Samsung said in a statement. “We will wait for the written grounds of today’s judgment, and after thorough review make a decision about a possible appeal.” Apple had no specific comment on the ruling, according to the report.
Following yesterday’s report in The New York Times highlighting the sometimes hard lives of those who work in the factories where Apple’s products are made, Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent out an email to all Apple employees in response. “As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain”, Cook writes in the lengthy email, which was reprinted by 9to5Mac. “Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.” The email continues for several more paragraphs, in which Cook reiterates the company’s commitment to being a leader in this area. For the full text of the email, visit the link above.
The National Hockey League has released NHL Hardest Shot, a new iPhone app designed to measure the speed of slapshots, challenging aspiring hockey pros to put their strength and power to the test. The app uses a sound and speed measurement system to track the puck and instantly measure the speed for standard 20ft and 40ft shooting distances. Players simply need to choose their distance, ensure that the target is a solid surface and place the phone off to the side between the shooting position and the target. Users can also challenge their friends and post their best results to Facebook and Twitter. The app also provides a video library including an instructional video on how to take the best slapshots and clips of some of the hardest slapshots in the history of the NHL. NHL Hardest Shot is available from the App Store for $2.
Game developer Valve has released Steam Mobile, a new iPhone app that allows users of the popular gaming service to participate in the Steam community directly from their device. The new app allows Steam users to chat with their friends on Steam, browse community groups, gaming pages and user profiles as well as reading the latest gaming news and keeping track of sales on games. Users can also view the catalog of featured, new and popular games and manage their wish list from within the app. Steam Mobile available from the App Store as a free download, but is reportedly still in closed beta requiring users to request an invitation before they can sign in to use the app. [via MacStories]
id Software has released an update to Rage HD adding a Mutant Bash Store and enhancements for iOS 5 and newer iOS devices. Rage HD 2.0 now provides additional content, available from the Mutant Bash Store, beginning with a new $1 Episode Pack that includes two new episodes titled Kraken and Aqueduct and more content to come. The new version also adds higher resolution player and weapon models, support for video output using the Apple Digital AV Adapter and improvements to video output when using the VGA and component cables under iOS 5. Numerous performance enhancements, bug-fixes and iOS 5 compatibility issues have also been addressed in the update. Rage HD requires an iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad running iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
Apple plans to launch an OLED-based HDTV set as soon as April or May, according to a new report. Citing a high-ranking source with a major electronics retailer, TechnoBuffalo reports that the source has seen pre-production versions of the device, which is described as “gorgeous” and “very thin” and will come in sizes up to 42 inches diagonally. The report goes on to claim that the set will use a Siri-like voice command system in lieu of a typical remote, with the option to use an iOS device as a remote, instead. In addition, the set is said to use facial recognition software to automatically turn itself off if no one is in the room for a set period of time—a feature already found on some competing sets—and automatically wake itself when someone reenters the viewing area.
Apple is also said to be exploring the idea of using the TV to control other appliances in the home, including ovens and garage doors, although the report claims that the source provided no details as to whether Apple make such devices themselves; it is instead suggested that Apple might create a Made For iPod-like program to certify such products from third-party manufacturers. Finally, the report claims that the TV has been delayed in getting to market as the company has been focused on making the first-generation product as feature-complete as possible, as it will have fierce competition not only from established brands but from larger—and often times cheaper—sets. While it seems likely at this point that Apple will launch its own TV set, the timeframe as laid out in the report strikes us as being a little early; if Apple were shooting for such an early launch, reports of early manufacturing tests would quite possibly already have started to appear. As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise if an Apple-branded TV was debuted mid-year at WWDC, possibly later.
Schneider Optics has announced its new iPro Lens System for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The system includes a wide angle and fisheye lens, both of which use a bayonet mount to attach to the included iPhone case, which also offers open access to all ports and controls, as well as two attachment points for the included handle/lens case. The iPro Lens System for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S is available now and sells for $199; a 2X tele lens will be available in April and should sell for around $100.
LowestMed has released LowestMed Mobile, an iPhone app designed to help U.S. consumers save money on prescription drugs by providing price searches and comparisons between different pharmacies. Users enter the specific drug and dosage that they are looking for and LowestMed searches for nearby pharmacies that have the item available, including both brand name and generic drugs, providing users with the best price available within their area. The app also incorporates an electronic discount card with codes that users can provide to the pharmacy at the point of sale at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, allowing consumers to receive additional savings of between 10 and 85 percent off retail prices. LowestMed Mobile is available from the App Store as a free download.
G5 Entertainment has launched Spirit of Wandering - The Legend, a new hidden object adventure game for iOS devices. Originally developed for the PC by Playrix Entertainment, Spirit of Wandering is a fairytale-themed game about a female pirate captain who loses her crew and husband when her ship is attacked by the infamous ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman. The player must undertake the quest to search for the captain’s lost love and crew who are imprisoned in the spirit world, travelling across six picturesque locations and searching for and collecting both normal and magical items. Spirit of Wandering - The Legend includes 24 challenging locations across six different settings with over 450 hidden objects and 90 cherished items to discover. The game is available in two separate versions, Spirit of Wandering - The Legend (free trial, $3 in-app purchase to unlock full version) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Spirit of Wandering - The Legend HD (free trial, $5 in-app purchase to unlock full version) for the iPad.
Apple will launch the iPhone 4S in Indonesia and Costa Rica tomorrow. As noted by Mac Rumors, Telkomsel and XL in Indonesia, as well as Claro, Movistar, and Kolbi in Costa Rica will all be offering the iPhone 4S in their respective regions beginning tomorrow. As is typical with international launches, pricing varies widely based on the plan selected as well as the country. In addition, French carrier Free Mobile will also begin offering the iPhone 4S tomorrow; its current unlimited talk/text/data packages run €20/month—€15 for customers of the company’s internet service—but has yet to announce pricing for any plans that would be tied to subsidized devices.
The New York Times has launched a new series of articles, dubbed The iEconomy, which examine “the challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries”, and have focused specifically on Apple thus far. The first article, “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work”, examines the favorable manufacturing conditions in China and other overseas locations that keep Apple from building its products in its home country, while the second, “In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad”, examines the sometimes brutal lives of those who build Apple’s products. Both articles are too lengthy to briefly summarize here; we present these only as articles of interest for those who want to know more about the inner workings of Apple and its competitors.
Sollico Software has released NewsFlash, a new universal iOS app designed to provide fast and easy access to top news headlines from leading publications, aggregated into a single news feed. Focused on simplicity, NewsFlash includes a clean interface and does not require any customization or setup to begin using it; users simply launch the app and the latest news appears in seconds. Users can choose to filter by various categories such as News, Politics, World, Business, Sports and more and can also swipe across categories to view news from various aggregated world sources including the U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, France and Israel with content available in many countries in both English and local languages. The app provides customizable font sizes and removes ads and third-party links to provide a cleaner reading experience focused on the news itself. Stories can also be shared via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or SMS/iMessage. NewsFlash is available from the App Store as an iAd-supported free download with an ad-free option available as an in-app purchase.
Apple has announced plans to start offering substantial discounts on both Macs and iPads, according to a new report. According to 9to5Mac, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the discount plan—which offers a $500 discount on purchases of Macs and a $250 discount on purchases of iPads—at yesterday’s employee-only Town Hall event. The report claims that the discount program will go live in June, and that employees may only use the discount once every three years. The discounts will reportedly be available for any employee who has been with the company for at least 90 days.
Announcing its fourth quarter 2011 fiscal results today, original iPhone carrier AT&T announced that it activated 7.6 million iPhones over the three month period. The majority of those sales were iPhone 4S units, according to the company, and overall, iPhone sales accounted for nearly 80 percent of AT&T’s 9.4 million smartphone sales in Q4. The sales helped the company add 717,000 net postpaid subscribers during the period.
Readdle has released an update to PDF Expert, its iPad app for viewing, annotating and editing PDF files adding full text search across the app’s entire PDF library and several other enhancements. With PDF Expert 3.2 the built-in Document Search feature now goes beyond just the file name allowing a full search of text-based PDFs to make locating documents faster and easier. Users can also now sort files based on name and date by using options found when scrolling past the top of a document list. Additional features include a new eraser tool for handwritten annotations, support of the tab and arrow keys for filling in PDF forms when using external Bluetooth keyboards and improvements to handwriting and wrist protection. The latest update also implements the iOS Data Protection API automatically encrypting all documents in PDF Expert on password-protected iOS devices. PDF Expert 3.2 is available from the App Store for $10.
Motorola Mobility has filed a new patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. According to Reuters, the case, filed in a Florida federal court, claims that Apple is infringing upon six patents related to wireless antennae, software, data filtering, and messaging. Notably, Motorola said the patents cited in this suit are the same as those cited in a separate Florida suit against Apple, the difference being that the new suit names both the iPhone 4S and iCloud as infringing products. Google agreed to buy Motorola Mobility last August for $12.5 billion, and likely approved this latest suit as part of its purchase agreement with the company.
In celebration of the 75th anniversary of Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book, Oceanhouse Media has released an interactive omBook app version of the book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. First published in 1937, the book recounts the tale of Marco who walks to school along Mulberry Street keeping his eyes peeled for interesting sights to share with his father, conjuring up elaborate and exciting events in his imagination as he proceeds down the street. Originally rejected by 27 publishing houses for being too fantasy based and different from typical children’s books of the time, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street ultimately became the title that launched the now-iconic Dr. Seuss series. The omBook version brings this original story to life with professional narration, background audio and enlarged artwork for each scene and also includes highlighted words and interactive images to promote reading in young children. Oceanhouse Media is an officially licensed publisher of Dr. Seuss and other children’s book titles for iOS and other mobile and tablet devices, producing interactive and educational versions of classic children’s books. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street is available from the App Store for an introductory price of $3.
Matias has unveiled three new keyboards for the PC, Mac, and iOS devices. The One Keyboard, Slim One Keyboard, and Tactile One Keyboard all offer a Bluetooth connection to allow for use with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, with a single dedicated button to switch between the PC/Mac and iOS device, black keys set against a silver background, and an integrated USB cable. The Slim One Keyboard features a slim, Apple-like body and includes a MiniRizer iPhone stand for $80, while the One Keyboard features a more traditional body, with arrow keys, a number pad, and a space for the iPhone to sit between the keys. It sells for $100 and will begin shipping soon.
Finally, the Tactile One Keyboard also offers a full layout—with space for the iPhone, arrow keys, and a number pad—but uses an Alps Mechanical Switch for each individual key, offering an experience similar to Apple’s Extended and Extended II keyboards for $200; it is expected to ship in May. Each keyboard is available for order now in separate Mac- or PC-specific versions for shipment no later than May.