Apple’s vision for a set-top box device includes features designed to “simplify accessing and viewing programming and erase the distinction between live and on-demand content”, according to a new report. Citing people briefed on Apple’s plans, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is proposing a system through which viewers would be able to start any show at any time through a device that would store TV shows on the Internet. The report claims that the device will feature an interface that “could resemble the navigation icons” on the iPad, or in other words, very similar to the current Apple TV software. The interface may also offer on-screen space for social media features, and would also enable viewers to access content from the device on other Apple products.
The report goes on to detail some of the challenges facing Apple as it attempts to put such a service together, including apprehension on the part of the cable operators to let Apple gain a greater foothold in the TV market, and the fact that cable operators’ existing rights over TV content are likely insufficient to cover all of Apple’s proposed services, in particularly the Internet-based DVR service. It also states that Apple wants viewers to be able to access all episodes of current seasons of TV shows, instead of only a few episodes of a current season, as is currently the case on many cable operators.
Apple has filed its master plan for its data center facility in Prineville, Oregon. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the plan shows two buildings with more than 500,000 sq. ft. of “data halls”; the overall facility is expected to cover about 107 acres. No time table is given in the plans for construction. “They really didn’t say how long they are looking at,” Prineville senior planner Joshua Smith said. Apple is already building a 10,000 sq. ft. data center on the Princeville property it purchased in February.
Google has updated its Google+ social media app for iOS devices adding support for opening links directly in its Chrome browser for iOS rather than the default Safari browser. Released in late June, Google Chrome is a replacement browser for iOS devices that provides the ability for users of the desktop version of Chrome to sync open tabs, bookmarks, passwords and omnibus data between their Mac/PC and iOS devices along with a number of other unique browser features. However, iOS does not allow users to choose a replacement default browser, relegating Chrome on the iOS side to a secondary choice for many users; today’s Google+ update allows Chrome to be used as a default browser for opening links from the social network and it seems likely that Google is at least contemplating providing similar integration in its other iOS apps. Links will continue to open in Safari as before for users without Chrome installed. In addition to Chrome support, Google+ 3.1 also makes several performance improvements to Instant Upload and lowers the age restriction for creating and joining Hangouts. Google+ is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Crackle has released a major update to its universal iOS video streaming app adding support for watching movies and TV shows on an external TV via AirPlay or HDMI out. A division of Sony Picture Entertainment, the Crackle app allows users to stream popular full-length Hollywood movies and mainstream TV series directly to their device with unlimited, on-demand viewing of video content over either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. In addition to video output support, Crackle 3.0 also provides a completely redesigned user interface with the aim of making it easier for users to discover their favourite movies and TV shows along with an improved playback experience. Crackle requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. The Crackle service is available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia; not all content is available outside of the U.S.
A major new update to Instagram has been released adding support for location information in photos along with a number of design improvements. Instagram 3.0 now provides a new map view to allow users to view their photos by geographic location along with a profile setting to control which photos are displayed on the map. The update also features redesigned profile and uploads screens alongside other design improvements throughout the app. In addition, Photo feeds now provide infinite scrolling and users can flag inappropriate comments. Instagram 3.0 requires iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Sprint is now offering new customers a $100 gift card with the purchase of an iPhone 4S. According to Sprint’s promotion page, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models—both pre-owned and new—are eligible, bringing the effective price range of the iPhone 4S on Sprint down to Free-$250. Notably, the promotion only runs from August 14 - August 26, requires a new line of service, and pays out the $100 in the form of a Reward Card from American Express. Given Apple’s recent decision to match carrier and retail pricing and promotions in its own retail stores, Business Insider called a New York location and confirmed that Apple will match the deal, giving customers $100 in store credit in lieu of the Reward Card. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple is in talks with some of the U.S.’ largest cable operators about letting an Apple device serve as a set-top box for live television and other content, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that no deal has yet been reached with any of the operators, possibly due to their reluctance to let Apple establish a larger presence in the TV business. Although the report does not state whether the device in question is an iteration of the current Apple TV or a more sophisticated device, it does cite two people briefed on the matter who claimed that the technology could be embedded in a television.
Korean carriers SK Telecom and KT are in talks to offer LTE service for Apple’s next-generation iPhone, according to a new report. Citing officials from the companies, the Korea Times reports that any such deal could require a change or addition to the handset’s supported LTE frequencies. While Verizon operates its LTE network on the 700 MHz frequency and AT&T uses both 700 MHz and 2100 MHz, SK is using the 800 MHz frequency, and KT is using the 1800 MHz frequency. “KT is in negotiation with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT’s 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone,” said an anonymous KT source. A high-ranking SK executive added, “If Apple’s upcoming iPhone again fails to support LTE bandwidths, then this would be a very disappointing scenario as LTE is everywhere in Korea.” Apple is expected to announce the next-generation iPhone at a special media event next month. [via MDN]
A number of separate reports claiming consistent information on the so-called “iPad mini” have appeared online. 9to5Mac seemingly led off the reports by posting an article displaying mockup renderings, supposed back casing part leaks, and purported cases for the device. According to the report, the iPad mini will not keep the thick bezels of the 9.7-inch iPad on all sides, but will instead feature smaller bezels along the sides in portrait mode, separated volume buttons, and a mic in the middle of the back. That premise is then used to validate a set of purported schematics from mid-July—originally posted by a hitherto unknown site called Think iOS—that showed such a device, measuring 7.3mm thick by 134.73 mm wide and 200.13 mm tall. These measurements would place the iPad mini in the same thickness range as an iPod touch.
Oddly, 9to5Mac links to separate corroborating reports from iMore and Daring Fireball, the latter of which goes into unusual detail to justify its assumptions, including comparisons between the proportions of the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch to the aspect ratios of their displays. For reasons unknown, 9to5Mac’s report appeared first, followed by the others, even though 9to5Mac said that its report was inspired by an article from Daring Fireball that was actually posted hours later. All three reports reference an unusual public discussion between Apple-focused bloggers on the discussion site Branch, suggesting that their reports were coordinated.
While some of the details in these reports line up with information that iLounge has heard from trusted sources, the schematic drawings mentioned in 9to5Mac’s report included an odd aspect ratio for the device’s screen, as seen in the above image, which led us to hold off on publishing them back in July. However, as the schematics do not provide exact dimensions for the screen itself, it’s possible that the discrepancy is due to accurate measurements of a rear shell, relying on assumptions regarding the placement and size of elements on the glass front face.
Social content sharing service Pinterest has released a universal update to its iOS app adding native iPad support and making several general usability improvements for the iPhone interface. The Pinterest service allows users to collect and “pin” content from around the web for sharing with followers in an image focused service. Users can pin content from within the app, view general categories for existing pins, follower other users and create new pins with their iOS device’s camera.
The new iPad user interface provides a fullscreen layout based on the same design as the website with a swipe-based navigation menu that allows users to view different categories and share, like, re-pin and comment on posts; an integrated browser is also present to allow users to easily visit source web sites without needing to leave the app. The update also includes a new two-column layout and performance and stability improvements. Pinterest requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. [via TUAW]
Apple has been granted a major patent relating to a new radial menu design for computer applications, according to a report from Patently Apple. In the newly granted patent 8,245,156, Radial menu selection, Apple describes a design for radial menus that can be used for both desktop and portable devices, working with a mouse or touch interactions using a finger, stylus or iPen, presenting menus and submenus at optimal locations. Such a new radial menu system would be an alternative method of presenting menu options from the traditional linear pull-down menus that have been used in most computer applications and operating systems to date.
Radial menus would appear as a collection of menu options presented as a set of wedges surrounding a central cursor position on a display, with submenus cascading from the first circle of wedges as necessary. Apple’s patent describes several unique aspects of radial menu implementations using sweep-based gestures, including Sweep Commands, Selecting and Activating Menu Items with Sweep Commands, Predicting Stopping Location of Sweep Commands, Serial Sweep Commands, Moving Menus and Spring-Load Commands. The patent was originally filed in 2008 and lists Charles Migos and Jean-Pierre Mouilleseaux as the inventors.
According to a report from a German website, Deutsch Telekom will begin to offer preorder tickets for the next-generation iPhone today. The tickets will guarantee access to the new device on the day of release, without having to stand in line, a process the carrier used last year during the iPhone 4S launch. [via 9to5 Mac]
Following rumors that Apple plans to incorporate thinner touchscreens in upcoming devices, the company was awarded a patent today for in-cell screen technology. Unlike traditional touchscreens that place touch-sensitive elements between two pieces of glass, this method incorporates touch sensors directly into the LCD, reducing thickness while improving the screen’s appearance. [via AppleInsider]
The Palo Alto home of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs was burglarized on July 17, according to a just-discovered police report. Kariem McFarlin of Alameda, CA is alleged to have stolen over $60,000 worth of “computers and personal items,” which would raise questions regarding potential exploitation of the legendarily secretive Jobs’ personal files. According to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Tom Flattery, however, the robbery “was totally random.” [via 9to5 Mac]
Novelty retailer ThinkGeek has launched a new shell-style iPad 2 and iPad (3rd-Gen) case called Padintosh. Selling for $25, the case’s rear surface has been designed to resemble the front of a classic Macintosh computer from the 1980s, minus Apple’s logos and specific Macintosh branding. The plastic is 2mm thin, with cutouts for the iPad’s ports and buttons, as well as space to accommodate a Smart Cover. It’s available now from the company’s website.
Somewhat surprisingly, Apple this morning quietly released a new red-colored iPhone 4 Bumper as part of its partnership with the (PRODUCT) RED campaign, which shares profits as a donation to the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa. This is the first update to the Bumper since the original version’s openings were reconfigured to accommodate the subsequent CDMA iPhone 4, and the first new color option. Available for the same $29 as the rest of the line, Apple’s website lists it as shipping in 4-6 business days with no in-store availability at this time. Considering the near certainty of a newly redesigned iPhone being launched next month, the timing is odd, and a likely sign that Apple will keep the iPhone 4 and 4S around for at least another year.
In recent testimony given in the Apple and Samsung patent trial, Apple patent licensing director Boris Teksler revealed that Apple has licensed its design patents to Microsoft, although the deal includes an “anti-cloning agreement” that prevents Microsoft from directly copying the iPhone and iPad in its own designs. Teksler described Apple’s decision to license its patents to Microsoft as consistent with its corporate strategy as the deal prohibited Microsoft from building direct copies of Apple’s products.
Teksler went on to note that Apple also offered a patent licensing arrangement to Samsung in 2010, although it viewed patents related to the “unique user experience” as a highly protected category, which included design patents involved in the current lawsuit between the two companies relating to the “look and feel” of the iPhone and iPad. Teksler told the court that he could “count on one hand” the number of times that Apple had actually licensed those patents. The two companies were ultimately not able to come to a licensing agreement at that time and Apple filed a lawsuit in federal court in April 2011.
A new report suggests that AT&T has begun preparations for the launch of the next-generation iPhone, targeting the third or fourth week of September. BGR reports that AT&T has sent out internal communications to this effect advising employees that their availability will be required from that time period through to the middle of October. BGR also cites a separate AT&T source that indicates that the company is rescheduling a large training event that was originally planned for the first week of October due to a conflict with a “huge announcement.” This follows earlier reports of an Apple event scheduled for September 12th at which the company is expected to announce the new iPhone for a September 21st release.
On the heels of alleged photos of the new Dock Connector, French site Nowherelese.fr has now posted photos of what it believes to be the motherboard of the next-generation iPhone (Translated Link). The photos show both the front and back of the board, with the accompanying text noting that the format is “broadly similar” in format to other motherboards used by Apple and that the design appears to fit with the previously leaked photos of casings for the coming iPhone. [via Mac Rumors]
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 Mojo Vogue Battery Case Giveaway. In our Giveaway of the Month for August, iLounge and iBattz are giving away 5 Mojo Vogue Battery Cases for iPhone 4/4S, bundled with Dedicated Battery Chargers. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on August 31, 2012 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Cultured Code has released version 2.0 of its Things task management app for iOS and Mac adding its long-awaited cloud synchronization feature. Originally beginning development over two years ago, Things Cloud went into a closed beta in mid 2011 and was expanded to a limited public beta several months ago. The new feature replaces the former Bonjour Wi-Fi Sync that has been in place since Things’ debut in 2008 with the company’s own online service, Things Cloud, allowing users to keep data seamlessly synchronized across the iPad, iPhone and Mac versions of Things.
Things 2.0 also introduces a new Daily Review feature to help users keep on top of their tasks for each day at a glance and a new Date Picker to make selecting dates easier by implementing a scrolling, rather than page-based, calendar view. Additional enhancements include visual refinements, the ability to cancel to-dos, move completed to-dos immediately to the Logbook, and view whole Projects in the Today list. Things 2.0 requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store in two versions: Things ($10) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Things for iPad ($20); a Mac desktop version of Things is also available from the Mac App Store separately for $50. Each Things 2.0 app is a free update for users of the corresponding prior version.
New photos showing purported next-generation Dock Connector cable parts have appeared online. Nowhereelse.fr (Translated Link) has posted the images, which it claims are of the new Dock Connector as seen on the next-generation iPhone. Notably, the connectors in the photos appear to sport eight gold pins and to be capable of insertion in either orientation, consistent with iLounge’s prior report. [via MacRumors]