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Facebook to acquire Instagram for $1 billion

Facebook has announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire the popular photo-sharing app Instagram. According to the company, Facebook will pay roughly $1 billion in cash and shares of Facebook for San Francisco-based Instagram, with the transaction expected to close later this quarter, subject to customary closing conditions. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has issued a statement on the matter, which appears below.

“I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.”

Fifth-gen iPod touch reference found in iOS 5.1 build

Code pointing to an updated version of the iPod touch has been found in an internal iOS 5.1 build, according to a new report. 9to5Mac reports that references to an “iPod5,1”—the fourth-generation iPod touch is referred to as “iPod4,1”—were found inside a file which was contained in an internal build of iOS 5.1. As noted in the report, the iPod touch was the only iOS device that didn’t receive an update last year, and also regularly accounts for more than half of Apple’s iPod sales on a quarterly basis. The report also claims that Apple is testing a new version of the iPhone with 1GB of RAM, and that the new phone will not sport a design similar to that of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S; the prototype is said to be running a variation of the A5X chip found in the third-generation iPad.

Universal Studios’ films now available on iCloud

Films from Universal Studios are now available for re-download through Apple’s iCloud service. Citing multiple reader reports, MacRumors notes that films from Universal no longer display a “this movie will not be available from iTunes in the Cloud” warning when viewing the movies’ listings in iTunes, while films from 20th Century Fox retain the warning. A report from last month indicated that the absence of both Universal and Fox was attributable to a contractual obligation to pay TV channel HBO; both companies were said to be in negotiations to solve the issue.

AT&T to start unlocking off-contract iPhones

AT&T has announced that it will begin unlocking off-contract iPhones starting this Sunday, April 8. “Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones,” the carrier said in a statement to Engadget. “The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.” The move comes after several anecdotal reports of AT&T customers successfully getting their phones unlocked by emailing Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Rockstar to bring Max Payne to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Rockstar Games plans to release a port of its original Max Payne title for iOS. According to a Kotaku report, the game will feature “HD” graphics, high definition textures, user-configurable controls, and Rockstar Social Club functionality. Max Payne Mobile will be released on iTunes April 12, and will require an iPhone 3GS or later, fourth-generation iPod touch, or any model of iPad.

Pholium offers iPad-based digital book creation

58 North has released Pholium, it’s latest app for the iPad. Pholium allows users to create high-quality, customizable digital photo books, offering the ability to import, edit, and position photos, customize the cover, fonts, and colors, store completed books in the on-device library, and share books with other iPad users, as well as realistic page turning animations and full-sized image viewing with zoom features. Pholium requires iOS 5.0 or later and sells for $9.99.

Third-gen iPad users report 3G connectivity issues

A number of third-generation iPad users are reporting 3G connectivity issues with the new LTE-capable model. Citing a growing Apple support thread, AppleInsider reports that the majority of reports have come from international users attempting to connect to 3G networks, rather than U.S. users attempting to hop on LTE networks. Users say they have tried a number of remedies, including resetting settings and replacing the SIM card, only to find that the only way to solve the problem is to cycle the power on the device between three and five times a day. While some have suggested the issue lies with iOS 5.1 or with the Qualcomm cellular chipset, the exact cause of the issue has yet to be revealed.

Qualcomm, Intel give Apple code in Samsung patent trial

Both Qualcomm and Intel have provided U.S. lawyers with source code that an Apple attorney claims will help it in its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung. Bloomberg reports that the code in question will be used in an Australia trial between the two companies; in the trial, Samsung accuses Apple of infringing on patents related to wireless transmissions, which the source code may absolve them of doing. “Further non-infringing arguments can be made” from disclosure of the source code, Apple lawyer Andrew Fox said at a hearing in Sydney. The trial between Apple and Samsung—in which both companies accuse one another of infringing patents—is scheduled to begin July 9 and run through October 12.

Chillingo releases CreaVures

Chillingo has released CreaVures, a new casual puzzle platformer for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. CreaVures puts the player in control of the game’s namesakes, five little mystical forest creatures possessing unique powers and abilities who must work to pull back the blanket of night and restore their forest to its former glory. Each of the five CreaVures—Bitey, Pokey, Rolly, Zappy and Flick—possesses unique talents designed for solving special puzzles and overcoming obstacles and surviving tough enemies and bosses and the player must learn to use each of these abilities together to succeed. CreaVures provides hauntingly beautiful graphics and artwork that presents a darkened world bathed in mystical, bioluminescent light, enhanced further by a haunting background soundscape and a rich fantasy background storyline. CreaVures is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $1.

Marvel Comics adds new Infinite Comics style, social sharing

Just in time for the new Avengers vs X-Men series, Marvel Entertainment has updated Marvel Comics for iOS adding a brand new digital comic style and the ability to share comics via social networks. The latest update to the Marvel Comics app adds a new ground-breaking Infinite Comics hand-drawn digital comic style designed specifically to take over the entire device screen, immersing the user in the comic reading experience. Infinite Comics will be free as a bonus with select digital comics including the new Avengers vs X-Men #1. The new version also now allows users to share any comic link via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. Marvel Comics 3.1.1 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Evernote Food adds Place Search, Sync Improvements

Evernote has updated Evernote Food, its food-focused companion app for Evernote, adding new location features and improvements to date and time entry and search. Evernote Food allows iPhone and iPod touch users to capture and relive their meal experiences with photos and notes that can be organized and synced via the Evernote service. Users can add additional titles, locations, tags and captions to record the experience and share the results as a sort of mini-food blog with friends via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail.

Evernote Food 1.1 adds the ability to update the date and time of any meal from the Meal Date screen, allowing users to import photos from their camera roll and manually specify their own date information. A new Place Search feature also allows users to easily locate a restaurant or geographic location along with an integrated map view and users can also create and store their own custom places. A new Meal Search feature has also been added to allow users to quickly find any meal they’ve entered. Additional enhancements include improved sync performance and status indicators, single sign-on for Evernote users and improvements to thumbnail image transitions, sharing, and photo resolution. Evernote Food 1.1 requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple releases iAd Producer 2.1 with third-gen iPad support

Apple has released iAd Producer 2.1, the latest version of its advertisement creation tool for its mobile ad network. First announced in 2010, iAd Producer allows potential advertisers to design and assemble rich interactive iAd content without any programming. Version 2.1 is a 66.8MB download, and features improved load and save performance, the ability to upload and test with iOS devices connected via USB, reduced device memory usage for image views, support for on-device debugging, Twitter integration for iAd content, simplified visualization of animations, and support for the third-generation iPad, among other improvements. iAd Producer is available now as a free download to registered developers, and requires Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later.

G5 Entertainment releases Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort

G5 Entertainment has released Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort, the sequel to its original Virtual City time management and city building game. Virtual City 2 takes the player to a new set of locations ranging from the coast of Florida to the snowy lands of Alaska, challenging them to build the ultimate resort city. To succeed, players must build up their infrastructure with offices, hotels, restaurants, clubs, museums and fitness centres along with completing unique missions such as launching a casino, building a ski resort and constructing an ice hotel. As in the original Virtual City, players must also master production chains, transporting and trading goods, meeting visitors’ needs and upgrading buildings in order to achieve the goals in each mission. Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort includes 52 challenging levels across four different unique environments with 29 mission scenarios, 73 types of buildings and 42 types of goods to transport and trade and also includes Game Center support with 98 special achievements to be earned. The game is available in two separate versions: Virtual City 2: Parade Resort for the iPhone and iPod touch and Virtual City: Paradise Resort HD for the iPad. Both are available from the App Store as free downloads which include a limited number of levels; the full game can be unlocked via in-app purchase for $5 (iPhone) or $7 (iPad).

Apple investigating third-gen iPad Wi-Fi issues

Apple is actively investigating reports of Wi-Fi issues with the third-generation iPad. Citing an internal AppleCare document, 9to5Mac reports that Apple has told its contact centers and retail store to “capture” new Wi-Fi only iPads if they “exhibit any issue related to Wi-Fi”, including intermittent connectivity, slow Wi-Fi speeds, or unseen Wi-Fi networks. According to the report, an Apple support thread discussing the issue has amassed 700 replies from affected users; Apple is reportedly replacing all “captured” units.

Apple receives certification to sell Brazilian-made iPad 2

Apple has received certification to sell Brazilian-assembled iPad 2 units in that country, according to a MacRumors report. According to the report, Apple will begin selling Brazilian-made 16GB iPad 2 units alongside third-generation models once it launches. Apple has yet to receive certification for either Chinese- or Brazilian-assembled third-generation units, but the company is planning to launch the device in Brazil with at least some domestic production. The report notes that as with the iPhone, Chinese-assembled versions of the iPad made for sale in Brazil carry the BZ/A suffix, while their Brazilian-assembled counterparts carry the suffix BR/A.

Apple testing 7.85-inch iPad, release uncertain

On the latest episode of The Talk Show hosted by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber and Dan Benjamin, Gruber made several comments related to Apple’s long-rumored 7-inch iPad. When asked whether Apple will release a 7-inch iPad—at roughly the 1:17:50 mark—Gruber said he didn’t know, but did say that he knows “they have one in the lab… a 7.85-inch iPad that runs at 1024 x 768, and it’s just like the 9.7-inch iPad shrunk down a little bit”. He continues, “apps wouldn’t need to be recompiled or redesigned to work optimally on it, it’s just that the iPad is smaller”.

Gruber suggested that a good way to approximate the interface is to take a screenshot on a 9.7-inch iPad in portrait mode, and then view that screenshot in landscape mode, and went on to say that the height of such a device would be very close to the width of the current model. “It’s usable,” he said, adding that “there are a couple of areas where I think the text is a little too small, but it’s not ridiculously small”. Finally, he said that he’d heard these details from numerous people, but had not heard that it was anything they are definitely going to ship, and said he felt the device was more of a “maybe”. This information matches what iLounge had previously heard from its own sources dating back to 2010.

Vimeo adds performance, video quality improvements

Vimeo has released an update to its iOS app providing adaptive video quality and performance and reliability improvements. The latest version of Vimeo features enhanced video delivery that adapts video quality to network connection speeds and device hardware, potentially delivering content in resolutions up to 1080p under optimal bandwidth conditions. The update also improves the reliability of video playback and buffering and optimizes video streaming for faster startup on newer devices. The help section has also been updated for easier browsing on the iPhone and iPod touch and several other tweaks have been made to the subscriptions and account sections. Vimeo is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

VooMote Zapper adds iCloud support has added iCloud support to its VooMote Zapper universal remote control app for iOS devices. The app is designed to work in tandem with the VooMote Zapper hardware accessory (iLounge Rating: B+), a infrared blaster dongle that connects to an iOS device’s Dock Connector port to turn the device into a universal remote control for a variety of home theatre equipment. Users can setup macros, personalize the user interface and mix and match buttons and macros for multiple devices into a series of remote control views that can further be grouped into rooms. With version 1.4 users can now store their remote configuration and all screen customizations in iCloud for backup or sharing with other iOS devices in the household. The latest update also adds over 1,250 new remote control codes to the application’s database. The VooMote Zapper app is available from the App Store as a free download; iOS 5.0 or later and a VooMote Zapper hardware accessory is required to use the app.

Sparrow adds in-app browser, badge settings

Sparrow has released an update to its advanced e-mail app for the iPhone and iPod touch adding several new features and quashing a few bugs in the process. Based on the Sparrow Mac e-mail client, the iOS version provides a number of advanced features such as Priority Inbox, labels and archiving for Gmail accounts along with a unified inbox, photo attachment support and a swipe gesture based user interface. Sparrow 1.1 now includes a built-in web browser for opening links within the app without requiring the user to switch over to Safari as well as new options for sending & archiving in one step and emptying trash and spam folders. Users can also now choose to hide specific labels/folders that they don’t need quick access to on the go and can customize the app icon badge for each individual account. Version 1.1 also addresses a number of bugs related to mail server compatibility and composing and viewing messages and attachments. Sparrow requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $3.

iPhone to rollout on multiple regional carriers April 20

In addition to nTelos, a handful of other regional carriers will be launching the iPhone on April 20. AppleInsider notes that Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless of Kentucky, GCI of Alaska, and Cellcom of Wisconsin will all launch the iPhone on April 20. As mentioned in the report, GCI operates a GSM network, and may therefore offer the iPhone 3GS for free on a two-year contract, while the others operate CDMA networks, and will therefore be limited to offering the appropriate variant of the iPhone 4 as well as the iPhone 4S. Apple first expanded iPhone distribution to regional carriers las November with the launch of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on C Spire Wireless.

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