SwitchEasy has launched its new Lux case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The Lux is an open-faced hard case constructed from leather with a microfiber lining to protect and clean the iPhone when being inserted and removed from the case. The case also features a top insert design for easy day-to-day use with a small elastic flap to hold the device securely in place. The SwitchEasy Lux is available now in black, white or tan and sells for $30 and includes the case, two anti-static screen guards, a microfiber wipe and a squeegee screen guard applicator.
AFP reports that Singaporean iPhone carrier M1 has begun selling special no-camera versions of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S designed to meet the requirements of Singapore’s defence ministry, where military personnel are banned from taking camera or other image-capturing devices into army facilities. M1 began offering the no-camera versions of the standard iPhone 4/4S models today via its web site and retail stores, in all available capacities and both black and white with the non camera versions selling for approximately $38 USD more than the standard models. Singapore’s military institutions instituted a ban on camera phones in 2007 following the online posting of several photos of sensitive training activities. The no-camera iPhone models are specifically designed with military personnel in mind but are available for purchase by any M1 customer. [via The Verge]
The End User License Agreement for Apple’s new iBooks Author app has drawn the attention of some members of the online community. The criticism revolves around a section at the top, which states, “If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.” As summarized by Dan Wineman, that statement, and section 2 B, suggest that “Apple is trying to establish a rule that whatever I create with this application, if I sell it, I have to give them a cut. ” Such an arrangement isn’t unreasonable on the surface, as Apple is providing the software for free, and it does not appear to bar users from distributing works freely online. Wineman argues, however, that Apple did not give him a chance to agree to the terms prior to installing the software, at which point the user is implicitly accepting of it; he compares it to a car dealership hiding secret terms in the glove box, which go into affect as soon as a customer drives a purchased automobile. Apple has yet to comment on the situation.
Apple has posted a streaming video of this morning’s education event on its website. The video, which clocks in at roughly one hour long, features Apple executives Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue, and Roger Rosner introducing the company’s new textbook and education initiatives, which include iBooks 2.0, the new digital textbooks section of the iBookstore, iBooks Author for Mac, and the new iTunes U app. For more information on the event, check out our transcript, or simply take a peek at our News section.
Apple has released iTunes 10.5.3, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to the release notes of Apple’s new iTunes U app, iTunes 10.5.3 is required to sync content with the new application; it is unknown what other features or improvements may have been added in the update. iTunes 10.5.3 is available now as a free download from apple.com/itunes and should be available via the company’s Software Update utility later today.
Update: Apple’s release notes for iTunes 10.5.3 read as follows: “iTunes 10.5.3 allows you to sync interactive iBooks textbooks to your iPad. These Multi-Touch textbooks are available for purchase from the iTunes Store on your Mac or from the iBookstore included with iBooks 2 on your iPad. iBooks textbooks are created with iBooks Author — now available as a free download on the Mac App Store.”
At today’s education event, Apple also announced an overhaul of its iTunes U service with the debut of a new iTunes U application for the iPad. Designed to provide a new and more interactive way of accessing the previously podcast-based iTunes U curriculum, the new application allows users to not only download course material but also interact with teachers and professors by providing access to assignments, updates, course notes, lectures and presentations. The app also provides integration with iBooks based textbooks allowing users to consolidate notes and highlights from their texts into the iTunes U app for easy review. Teachers and instructors can use iTunes U to layout out course syllabi, customizing topics, delivering content and lectures integrated with iBooks textbooks and providing additional information such as course notes, reading lists, office hours and more. iTunes U is available from the App Store as a free download and is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later.
During Apple’s education event today, the company announced a new Textbook section coming to the U.S. iBookstore to showcase a new collection of interactive textbooks that will be supported by iBooks 2. In addition, Apple has partnered with three leading textbook companies that are collectively responsible for publishing 90% of textbooks including McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson. Apple has also published a new, free iBooks Author tool for Mac OS X that will enable any publisher or end user to easily create enhanced interactive textbooks to be used on the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch with the iBooks app. The new iBooks based textbooks are expected to transform the traditional learning experience by providing enhanced electronic textbooks that include rich multimedia and interactive features such as video, study cards, built-in quiz and review questions and more. Current textbooks on the iBookstore are priced at around $15 and range in size from around 800MB to about 3GB.
During Apple’s education event today in New York City, the company announced the imminent release of iBooks 2, supporting a new variety of interactive book features focused primarily on education. Promising to deliver a “new textbook experience” for the iPad and other iOS devices, the new version will support books providing enhanced graphical and interactive features such as study cards, embedded quizzes and enhanced note-taking and highlighting capabilities. iBooks 2 is now available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple’s Big Apple-themed education announcement media event will begin in less than one hour, at 10:00 AM Eastern Time. While no Apple announcement is a “sure thing” prior to the company’s events, reports from the past few days have indicated that the bulk of Apple’s announcement will focus on digital textbooks, with an emphasis on the K-12 market. In addition to potential partnerships with publishers, it has also been suggested that Apple will unveil its own software that will make it easier for anyone with the desire to create interactive, multimedia textbooks which can then be made available for download via iBooks. We’ll be providing live updates of the event as it happens, so check back here at 10!
9:50 - 10 minutes before the start of the event, attendees are allowed in to take seats.
9:55 - The event is taking place in the Guggenheim Museum’s basement auditorium.
9:56 - Despite the subterranean venue, the stage has the typical lighting and look of a Cupertino-style Apple event.
9:58 - Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller takes the stage, starting the event early - atypical of Apple.
AT&T has announced new data plans for smartphone and tablet customers that will affect both iPhone and iPad users. The new smartphone data plans include AT&T Data Plus 300MB, which includes 300MB of monthly data for $20, AT&T Data Pro 3GB, which offers 3GB for $30, and AT&T Data Pro 5GB, which offers 5GB for $50 and also includes mobile hotspot tethering. Customers on the latter two plans can pay $10 per additional gigabyte, while Data Plus customers get an extra 300MB for $20. For the iPad, AT&T DataConnect 3GB includes 3GB for $30, while AT&T DataConnect 5GB runs $50 and includes 5GB of data. All five new plans will launch this Sunday, January 22; existing customers will have the choice of keeping their current plans or choosing from one of the new options.
Apple’s education event, scheduled for tomorrow in New York City, will focus on broadening the education content available for the iPad, with an emphasis on the K-12 market, according to a new report. Citing two people with knowledge of the announcement, Bloomberg reports that Apple will announce a set of tools to make it easier to publish interactive textbooks and other digital educational content. In addition to making more content available, Apple also hopes to empower “self-publishers” to create new kinds of teaching tools, likely based on a modified version of the ePub standard. A report form earlier this week suggested that Apple would adopt the ePub 3 standard in such a tool, allowing for easier creation of interactive, multimedia-rich content.
Brookstone is now offering its iConvert Scanner for the iPad and iPad 2. The portable scanner works with a free companion app to enable high-resolution 300dpi scanning to JPEG format, with a real-time, on-screen previews, and a front feeder that’s adjustable from 2 to 8.5 inches to handle a wide variety of documents, from business cards to photos and full-page printouts. The iConvert Scanner for the iPad and iPad 2 is available now for pre-order and is expected to begin shipping in early February for $150. [via Dvice | Gizmodo]
According to the latest research from Nielsen, the launch of the iPhone 4S had an “enormous impact” on the percentage of new smartphone purchasers who bought an iPhone. Among recent acquirers—those who said they got a new device within the past three months—44.5 percent of those surveyed in December said they chose an iPhone, compared to just 25.1 percent in October. Interestingly, the same metric for Android buyers dropped over that same period, from 61.6 percent in October to 46.9 percent in December. In addition, 57 percent of new iPhone owners surveyed in December said the bought an iPhone 4S. Overall, 46 percent of U.S. mobile consumers had smartphones as of Q4 2011, with 60 percent of recent purchasers choosing a smartphone over a feature phone. [via Fortune]
This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows a black iPhone 4 overlooking the Pacific Ocean from Nootka Island in British Columbia, Canada. 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!
Apple plans to hold a special event in early February to debut the iPad 3, according to a new report. Citing an Asian supplier and a source in the U.S., Macotakara reports that Apple is prepared to hold a special event in early February, at which it will debut both the next-generation iPad as well as iOS 5.1, which is currently in developer beta testing. The report claims that due to the Chinese New Year, the next iPad would not be released until early March, leaving a month-long gap between the product’s announcement and its release; last year, Apple debuted the iPad 2 on March 2nd, then released the device to stores on March 11, making for a debut-to-release gap of only nine days. [via BGR]
Incase has debuted its new Thermo Snap Case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. As the name suggests, the Thermo Snap Case features a snap-on design, and a heat-activated finish that shows your finger/hand prints when you pick it up, until the material cools down again. Other features include hardshell construction, an included viewing stand, and open access to all ports, controls, and cameras. Incase’s Thermo Snap Case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S is available now in pink and sells for $35.
Cocoa Box Design has released an update to Penultimate adding integration with Dropbox and Evernote as well as support for opening Penultimate notebooks in other iPad applications. With Penultimate 3.3 users can now send specific notebooks and individual pages directly to their Dropbox account or enable an automatic backup feature to ensure that all Penultimate notebooks are backed up to Dropbox. Users can also open Penultimate files directly from their Dropbox. Evernote integration in the latest version allows users to easily send notebooks and notes to their Evernote account where handwritten notes can be full-text indexed by Evernote’s advanced image search algorithms. The latest update also adds the ability to send Penultimate notebooks and pages to other supported iPad applications and copy and paste images and ink between Penultimate and other iPad applications. Penultimate 3.3 is available from the App Store for $1.
Apple has been working with McGraw-Hill and potentially other publishers on a digital interactive textbook initiative that it is expected to launch at its special event on Thursday, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that McGraw-Hill has been working with Apple on the announcement since June, and may have been joined in participation by Pearson and Houghton Mifflin. Cengage Learning, a leader in higher-education textbooks, has partnered with Apple in the past and will also be attending the event. “Apple today clearly has a strong position in hardware, and companies like Cengage Learning have a very strong position on the content side,” said Bill Rieders, Cengage executive vice president of global strategy and business development. “To the extent there’s a combination there, that could be exciting.”
In a separate report, Ars Technica also suggests that Apple is working on digital textbooks, but instead suggests that Apple will announce support for the more robust ePub 3 standard in iBooks moving forward, as well as a new tool for creating ePub 3- compliant e-books. Referring to the tool as “GarageBand for e-books”, the report cites former Apple education employee and current CEO of digital textbook house Inkling Matt MacInnis as expecting such a tool. “That’s what we believe you’re about to see,” MacInnis told Ars, a statement that was agreeable to the report’s other sources. “Publishing something to ePub is very similar to publishing web content. Remember iWeb? That iWeb code didn’t just get flushed down the toilet—I think you’ll see some of [that code] repurposed.” Late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs was known to have been involved with the initiative, and according to the report worked on this project for several years.
Expanding the ongoing legal battle between the two companies, Apple has filed another suit against Samsung in Germany. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is seeking to ban sales of 10 Samsung smartphone models, including the Galaxy S Plus and the Galaxy S II. The suit was filed in the Dusseldorf Regional Court and is based on Apple design rights in Europe, court spokesman Peter Schuetz said, adding that Apple has also started a separate suit against five Samsung tablet models related to a September ruling banning the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The two companies are currently involved in a number of suits against one another worldwide.
Apple has officially launched its iTunes Match online music service in the Netherlands. Launched in the U.S. in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. As noted by Mac Rumors, Dutch collecting society Buma/Stemra announced last week that it had reached a deal with Apple for iTunes Match; links to the service have yet to appear on the Dutch iTunes Store, but Apple has updated its terms and conditions with new text covering the service, and the direct link to the iTunes Match page is now working.
Update: According to AppleInsider, iTunes Match has also launched in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Latvia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.