Over the weekend, former Apple engineer Mike Margolis made a statement on Twitter that sparked some controversy over whether Apple was losing its way without its late co-founder Steve Jobs. When responding to a comment from a user who liked the old Apple TV UI—on which Margolis worked—he stated that the “new designs were tossed out 5 years ago because [Steve Jobs] didn’t like them. Now there is nobody to say ‘no’ to bad design.” While most of the discussion has focused on his first comment, subsequent comments explained that the new design is a logical next step “given their desire to match the iOS home page”, and that Jobs may have loved this new iOS-style grid. Margolis also added that the “new AppleTV UI excites me because it is just begging for apps - the old home screen UI was not app friendly/ready at all.” Finally, speaking with TechCrunch, Margolis explains that the original grid designs made little sense in a world where the iPad didn’t exist, people weren’t used to app-grid interfaces, and there was little third-party content for the device to tap into.
The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.
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Also, don’t forget to enter our iBattz Battery Case and Ozaki O!care Giveaways. In the former, iLounge and iBattz are giving away 10 iBattz Mojo Removable Battery Cases in Glossy White, while in the latter, iLounge and Ozaki are giving away four (4) Ozaki O!care Wireless IP Camera for iPod, iPhone and iPad. To enter, simply fill out and submit the forms on the giveaway pages—both giveaways will end on March 31, 2012 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
SRS Labs has released MyTunes Pro, an advanced audio enhancing music player app for the iOS platform. Expanding the feature set of the original MyTunes music player released last year for the iPhone and iPod touch, MyTunes Pro add an array of new features to provide users with advanced control of how their music library sounds. The MyTunes Pro apps, available separately for the iPad and the iPhone/iPod touch, are focused on redefining the expectations and capabilities around listening to both lossless and compressed digital music; the apps are full-featured music players that provide advanced SRS audio processing techniques along with unique features to allow users to customize their listening experience to match their mood or activities.
MyTunes Pro audio enhancement features include SRS WOW HD processing to restore natural tonality and spatial characteristics of recorded audio, SRS bass sculpting technology to provide deeper bass from headphones and speakers and a full adjustable 10-band EQ. The app also provides a set of EQ presets and listening device presets with custom tailored tunings to deliver the best results via specific headphones or speakers. Additional features include volume normalization, speed control for podcasts and audiobooks, DJ-style transitions and support for Airplay and iTunes Match. Special Party and Workout modes allow users to build specially organized playlists adjusted to fit a party or workout style and the app also provides a special driving mode with an optimized GUI for in-car use. MyTunes Pro HD and MyTunes Pro are both available as free downloads from the App Store. The player, DJ transitions, and custom album art features are included in the free version; advanced features such as WOWHD, normalize, the EQ, and driving mode can be used on a trial basis for a limited amount of time each with an in-app purchase available for $7 (iPhone/iPod touch) or $10 (iPad) to unlock the full feature set.
Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone will arrive this Fall and will feature LTE networking, according to a new report. iMore reports that the device, which was recently rumored to feature a 4.6-inch screen, will instead feature a screen closer in size to the current version’s 3.5-inch display, although it “could get a little bigger”. In addition, the new handset is said to sport a micro-dock connector in place of Apple’s long-running 30-pin port, and that it will launch sometime in the Fall, with an October 2012 release being the current target.
Amazon-backed streaming music service Songza Media has introduced a new Music Concierge feature in an update to its free app for the iPhone and iPod touch. Songza is a free social streaming music app featuring a large collection of curated playlists organized for a wide variety of moods, genres, eras and cultural themes. The new Music Concierge service is designed to allow users to find and listen to music for specific situations based on time of day, day of week, current device and observed past preferences. With two simple taps, the app will recommend up to three playlists from the Songza collection designed to accompany the user’s current activity or mood. A different day and time can also be specified to provide an alternative playlist selection, such as pretending it’s late Friday night instead of early Monday morning. As before, users can also explore Songza’s entirely library of expertly-curated playlists to specific themes or tracks, and add playlists to their favourites for later listening. The application is completely free with no advertising or listening limits and users can also collect and share their favourite playlists via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. Songza 1.3 requires iOS 4.1 or later and is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
A newly published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on universal remote control functionality for its iOS devices. Patently Apple reports that the new invention relates to a configurable remote control, or more specifically, an iPhone or similar device with IR transmission capabilities. According to the patent, users would be able to snap a photo of their current remote controls using the device; the photo would then be sent to iCloud for analysis, which would send back a “virtual copy” of the remote for use on the device’s touchscreen. As with all Apple patents, this application does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research and interest in this area.
According to a new survey, AT&T and Verizon account for more than half of all iPhones sold in U.S. Citing new data from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), AllThingsD reports that AT&T sold 32 percent of all iPhones sold in the U.S. from December 2011 through February 2012, while Verizon accounted for 30 percent. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that while Apple itself accounted for 15 percent of sales—11 percent through its retail stores and four percent online—Best Buy accounted for 13 percent, just two percent shy of Apple’s numbers. Sprint accounted for seven percent of sales, while other outlets such as Walmart, Target, and Radio Shack accounted for just three percent.
“Apple Stores and the Apple Web site are tremendously productive, but they are limited by their relatively small retail footprint,” CIRP’s Josh Lowitz told AllThingsD. “There are four times as many Best Buy stores, and probably 20 times as many AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint stores, so aggressive distribution through all these channels is critical to Apple’s U.S. strategy.”
Two members of the U.S. Congress have sent letters to a number of iOS developers seeking information about how they comply with Apple’s privacy policies. The Next Web reports that House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Chairman Fred Upton sent letters to Tapbots, Twitter, Foodspotting, Turntable.fm,, Trover, Instagram’s Burbn, Path, Facebook, SoundCloud, Apple, and others, asking—in addition to the question about privacy policies above—how they gather information from users and what they do with that information afterwards. The representatives has asked that the answers to the eight questions be delivered no later than April 12, 2012. The inquiry follows the discovery that social networking app Path, along with many other apps, was uploading iOS users’ contact data to their servers; Path immediately issued an apology, and Apple soon vowed to require user approval for access to contact data. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple today launched its third-generation iPad in 24 additional countries, bringing the total number of countries in which the device has launched to 34. Alongside last week’s launches in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands, the new iPad launched today in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. Apple announced that it sold three million third-generation iPad units in four days earlier this week.
A new report suggests that the third-generation iPad’s incompatibility is due to a change in the sensor used to sense magnets and not due to a change in placement or some other matter. Blogger Mark Booth claims that Apple is using a new design of sleep/wake sensor in the third-gen iPad that is sensitive to polarity, and that cases which appear not to work with the new model are simply built with the incorrect polarity. In addition, Booth claims that Apple made the change due to complaints from some iPad 2 customers who found that their iPads would go to sleep simply from folding the Smart Cover flat behind the device. According to Booth, Apple modified the design specifications of its Smart Covers sometime in 2011, giving the updated units new model numbers, and fixing the accidental activation problem. For more information, see our Backstage article on the subject. [via The Verge]
SugarSync has released a major update to its universal iOS client adding a completely redesigned interface for iPad users. SugarSync is a cloud-based storage and synchronization service that allows users to easily sync their files and folders across multiple computers and mobile devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with the free, universal iOS app. With SugarSync 3.0 the iPad interface has been completely redesigned to provide better use of the larger screen both for the display of information as well as new drag-and-swipe navigation for commonly used features.
With version 3.0 on the iPad, devices and shared folders are now displayed in a permanent sidebar at the left of the screen along with mobile photos and videos, web archives, recent documents, the Magic Briefcase and more. A sliding and stacking panels interface allows users to more effectively navigate into their folder structures while viewing multiple folders at once, providing quick access to other folders and the persistent top-level sidebar at the left; users can use drag and swipe gestures to move the stacked panels in order keep track of current and related folders as they navigate the file system and view individual files. SugarSync 3.0 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Continuing to look into display- and battery-related questions surrounding the third-generation iPad, DisplayMate has found some noteworthy battery charging-related oddities. In an email exchange with iLounge, DisplayMate President Ray Soneira indicated that the third-generation iPad—when connected to power via the included Apple 10W Power Adapter—actually continued to draw 10W of power for up to one hour after reaching what is reported by iOS as a full 100% charge. In iLounge’s testing, the new iPad switches from a lightning bolt (“still charging”) to plug (“done charging”) battery icon 5 to 10 minutes after reaching 100%; Soneira confirmed that the iPad still charges even when it claims to have been filled.
Notably, iLounge found unusual, non-linear reported battery drain during our numerous battery tests, with the third-generation iPad sometimes reporting a battery loss of just two percent over the first hour of testing, then averaging 10% of loss each hour afterwards while performing the same tasks. It is unclear at this point whether Apple has taken certain liberties when reporting battery levels to give the impression of faster charging and slower loss—similar to its prior treatment of cellular signal levels for iPhones, an issue remedied shortly after the iPhone 4 was released—or if there is some other explanation for the observed battery charging and discharging behavior.
Speaking in an interview Mobile World Live, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse defended the company’s decision to begin offering the iPhone. Discussing the initiative, Hesse said that the company’s first quarter of iPhone sales surpassed the company’s expectations, with 4 out of every 10 iPhones sold going to new customers, a figure that Hesse claimed was roughly double the rate of competitors. In addition, Hesse said that iPhone customers were less susceptible to churn, and actually use less data than users of high-end 4G Android devices. As a result, Hesse claimed that iPhone customers were actually “more profitable” than the average smartphone customer brought on to the network. Sprint launched the iPhone on its network last October. [via BGR]
Ambrosia Software has posted a brief look at iToner 3, the latest version of its iOS ring- and alert tone maker for the Mac. According to the company, iToner 3 has been completely rewritten and redesigned, and offers a number new features including compatibility with any version of iTunes, the ability to work with multiple iPhones, compatibility with the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad for notification tones, a new waveform editor, and the ability to grab audio clips directly from an iTunes library. While the company says that, should it be approved, iToner 3 will be available on the Mac App Store soon, it also said that it “could use your help”, and offers a link for those interested in beta testing. Pricing for iToner 3 has yet to be announced.
The IMDb Movies & TV app has been updated with new features allowing users to track their favourite theatres for movie listings and improvements to movie & TV show pages. IMDb 2.6 now allows users to set their favourite theatres in the Showtimes section to quickly and easily see what’s playing in their preferred locations and provides an updated IMDB rating and Metacritic display for movie and TV show titles. The new version also includes access to the latest red carpet & premiere photos and provides new high-resolution graphics for the third-generation iPad Retina Display. IMDb Movies & TV 2.6 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Readdle has updated ReaddleDocs for the iPhone and iPod touch with a completely redesigned user interface and numerous additional new features and enhancements. ReaddleDocs 3.1 adds a virtual folder to provide access to recently opened files along with a separate iCloud tab and Mail and Network tabs now combined into a single integrated view. The update also makes several file viewing improvements, including better speed and stability in the PDF and TXT viewers and in-document search for Microsoft Office, TXT and RTF files. Underline and strikeout annotations are also now available for PDF files and new bookmarks are saved inside PDF outlines. The integrated MP3 player now also provides new features including playlist and background audio support. Numerous improvements have also been made to the built-in browser and file services protocols including support for syncing with FTP/SFTP servers and using private key authentication with SFTP servers. The latest version also adds support for iOS Data Protection providing on-device encryption for sensitive files when the iOS device is protected with a passcode lock. ReaddleDocs 3.1 requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.
Apple has revealed that its new iPhoto app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch hit the one million user mark less than 10 days after its release. Without quoting any particular representative of the company, The Loop reports that the number is based on individual users, and not downloads, which could inflate the figure. Apple introduced iPhoto for iOS during its special media event earlier this month; the app became available that same day. For more information on iPhoto for iOS, see our full review.
As noted on the Yelp Official Blog, Siri now takes users directly to Yelp when tapping on a business listing. According to the post, Siri wouldn’t take you directly to Yelp when tapping on a listing prior to iOS 5.1, but with the new release, Apple updated the functionality. Now, tapping on a business recommendation takes you straight into the Yelp app, and to that business’ profile page. Apple did not publicize the new feature in the release notes for iOS 5.1, instead highlighting the addition of Japanese language support to the virtual assistant.
A new report suggests that some third-generation iPad owners are finding their LTE connections help highlight the limited nature of their data plans. The Wall Street Journal reports that a number of users have already burned through their monthly data allotments just days after receiving their new device. Streaming video is given primary blame for the issue, but should be expected by users; since LTE can deliver data speeds similar to—if not faster than—home Wi-Fi, content providers are streaming higher-quality videos to the devices, which in turn uses more data. Confusing matters further is AT&T’s decision to label its HSPA+ network “4G”, as videos delivered over that network still arrive in a highly compressed, 3G-ready form. As noted in the report, AT&T is considering a plan through which app developers and content providers would cover the bill for customers’ data usage; the charges would likely be passed on to the consumer in the form of advertising or in-app subscriptions.