Import bans on the new iPhone and iPad could be possible, as Apple is unlikely to invalidate two allegedly infringed HTC patents for data transmission in wireless devices, Bloomberg reported. “I have to be pretty darn certain a U.S. patent is invalid,” U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender said during a trial on the patents, implying an uphill battle for Apple. HTC maintains that the two patents in question are critical to LTE technology; should the company win, it could seek bans on the iPhone and iPad, and persuade Apple to settle its own patent infringement claims against HTC.
Brookstone has announced the Rover 2.0 App-Controlled Spy Tank ($150), the second version of its Rover tank, a toy designed to be compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The night vision-equipped tank is 25 percent faster than the previous model, which we reviewed and liked last year. Rover 2.0 can stream and record live video and stills, as well as uploading them directly to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube using the free app.
Built with Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth, Rover 2.0’s wireless range is up to 200 feet unobstructed, and 100 feet around walls and into other rooms. The angle of the tank’s camera and its headlights can now be controlled remotely, and it can both transmit and receive audio, playing through a built-in speaker. It uses 6 AA batteries, included with the purchase. Rover 2.0 is now available for pre-order, and will be released in October.
Brother has debuted the MFC-J4510DW ($199), a new and interesting color all-in-one printer compatible with AirPrint. Featuring a new, fashion-forward industrial design that takes cues from Apple’s devices and accessories, the compact inkjet features 802.11b/g/n wireless and Ethernet options, as well as a free app that can be used for managing printing. It features a touchscreen display and can print documents as large as 11” by 17”, with output at a brisk pace of up to 35 pages per minute. Automatic two-sided printing is also available for documents up to 8.5” by 11”; new engineering of the printing engine enables improved yields from ink cartridges and a more compact footprint—roughly the size of 11” by 17” paper—that’s less than 1/3 the size of competing devices.
The MFC-J4510DW will be available in October, and additional models in the Brother Business Smart series will be announced later this year.
- September 10, 2012
Sprint has announced that it will add more than 100 additional cities to its currently small 4G LTE network, without providing specific dates. New major metro markets will include Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C, with eight of the new 4G markets planned for deployment in Puerto Rico. Currently, Sprint offers 4G LTE service in 19 markets; the additions to bring it to at least 120 markets are planned for “the coming months.”
Notably, rival AT&T plans to reach 100 4G LTE markets by the end of 2012, while Verizon currently has 371 4G LTE markets in its network.
Confirming prior speculation, the new iPhone will indeed support global LTE cellular technology, The Wall Street Journal reports, though most likely not for every mobile carrier. The Journal’s sources were unclear about which carriers or countries would be left out of the loop, and suggested that supporting multiple LTE radio bands was the key challenge. The new iPhone will almost certainly follow past precedent, falling back to support the fastest non-LTE speed of a supported carrier’s network.
However, Apple’s use of LTE won’t be uncontested. Confirming previous reports, Samsung will sue Apple for allegedly infringing on its 4G LTE patents, according to The Korea Times. A Samsung official quoted in the story said the U.S. and European countries are the “primary targets” in another legal battle against Apple.
American Airlines, United, Virgin, and Delta have all confirmed they’re either ready or working to support Apple’s new Passbook application, debuting with iOS 6 this month. Passbook stores boarding passes, tickets, loyalty cards and other forms of digital information, then uses the iPhone’s location services feature to call up the appropriate document on the Lock Screen when in the correct location. At the initial iOS 6 presentation, Apple suggested that Passbook would be backed by companies such as United, Amtrak, Starbucks, and Fandango. [via Electronista]
Apple has decorated the exterior of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for its Sept. 12 media event, leading to informed speculation that the artwork hints at a stretched iPhone screen. Based on a reader’s tip, a report at MacRumors suggests that the colors on the facade are actually stretched-out iOS icons, in an ode to the next iPhone’s taller 4” display.
Stretched versions of the iTunes, Music and Game Center icons, among others, are believed to be seen on the building. Earlier Apple art on the Center included a subtle transparent eye icon indicating the Retina display for the third-generation iPad’s unveiling.
- September 7, 2012
The new iPhone will hit the market at the same price points as the current iPhone 4S — $199, $299, and $399 — according to a 9to5Mac report. The report cites a part codes matrix from a “well-known U.S. retail chain” for the pricing information, while speculating the storage capacities of the new iPhone will remain the same as the 4S: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB.
As the new iPhone gets ready to push the 4S down a notch, the 3GS looks to drop out of the lineup entirely, according to a report from The Telegraph. The 8GB version of the iPhone 4 would be the new entry-level iPhone, marketed for $0 with a standard monthly contract, while an 8GB version of the 4S could be released, as well. It remains unclear at this point whether Apple will update the Dock Connectors on prior-generation iPhone 4 and 4S models to match the smaller port expected on the next iPhone, or leave the older devices largely unchanged.
- September 7, 2012
- iPad Accessories
USBFever.com has introduced the SecurityLocker case ($93) for the third-generation iPad. Helping to justify the abnormally high price for a plastic frame, the clear, shock-resistant polycarbonate hard case is bundled with a wire security lock and keys. Four silicone feet on the back of the case prevent sliding, and protective film covers the screen. A shoulder strap and folding stand are also included.
Some case manufacturers believe that a previously-rumored refresh of the iPod nano is imminent, and have prepared new cases, notes MacRumors. The cases, from Italian accessory maker Puro, look to fit an iPod roughly the size of a fourth or fifth-generation nano, though seemingly wider — a tremendous turnaround from the current nano, with extruded pill curves resembling the second-generation nano and long-gone iPod mini. Rumors have suggested that this model will have an iPod touch-like but smaller touchscreen and Home Button, as well as wireless capabilities; however, no actual parts appear to have surfaced publicly to confirm the device’s existence.
Puro’s designs for the new iPod touch repeat elements found in previously-leaked cases, including a mysterious lower left hole at the bottom of the case seen in earlier case photos. The new iPod touch’s front panel is believed to have been revealed months ago, with a 4” display as its signature feature, and the as-yet-unseen rear shell is thought to be closer to the original iPod touch’s shape. A separate 9 to 5 Mac report claims that Apple will preserve the old iPod touch—perhaps with modest tweaks, such as a new Dock Connector—alongside the new model, while radically updating the nano, and offering new iPod shuffle colors.
Originally announced in January for a release in April, iRig Stomp ($60) has just been shipped as a guitar and bass stompbox interface for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch—with a more affordable price.
Roughly the size of a standard compact pedal and compatible with IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube apps, the device fits in with an existing pedalboard, allowing users to connect instruments or amplifiers using standard 1/4-inch guitar cables. A headphone port is also included.
Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily reports that thousands of Chinese students have been pushed to work at a Foxconn plant instead of attending school. According to the paper, which cited online posts from students from Huai’an in Jiangsu Province, classes were suspended at the start of the new semester, and students were driven to a Foxconn factory to meet demand for production of the new iPhone. The students were paid 1,550 yuan (US $243.97) a month for a six-day work week, while having to pay for their own food and accommodations, one student wrote, claiming that Foxconn did not inform parents or sign agreements with the students. Other students from at least five colleges backed up the information, saying they were forced to work 12 hours a day.
Foxconn responded in a statement that its interns are free to leave at any time, and that a recent audit of three facilities found no evidence of pressuring interns to participate, Bloomberg reports. Apple has previously confronted reports of poor working conditions in Foxconn’s factories, accepting some responsibility for its partner’s issues while vowing to use audits and high standards to achieve improvements. While some of the damning reports from Foxconn’s factories have proved to be accurate, the veracity of others has been questioned, and several were subsequently discovered to be fraudulent.
- September 7, 2012
FedEx is preparing for a “surge volume” event from Sept. 21-24—a period that coincides with persistent rumors of a Sept. 21 iPhone launch—according to a FedEx notice spotted by MacRumors. Neither Apple nor the new iPhone are mentioned by name within the short internal FedEx communication, which alludes to a postponement of employee training during the “surge;” however, FedEx is one of Apple’s primary shipping partners, and often relied upon to deliver mass quantities of new Apple devices immediately following their launch.
- September 7, 2012
After spending years downplaying the value of “all you can eat” subscription music services, Apple is now negotiating licensing agreements to create a customized streaming radio service similar to Pandora, according to the The Wall Street Journal (subscription req.). The new service would work on Apple’s hardware, and possibly on PCs running Windows, which suggests iTunes would feature the service. Perhaps not surprisingly, the report notes that the new service would not work on Android devices. Instead of preparing to pay royalty rates like Pandora, Apple is negotiating directly with record companies for licensing, according to the Journal’s sources.
Although prior reports that Apple has completely dropped Samsung as a supplier of iPhone chips are false, reports Reuters, Apple has indeed reduced orders for Samsung memory chips for the new iPhone. The news agency’s source denied that the relationship between the two companies — or recent patent disputes — are causing the reduced orders, suggesting that Apple is merely diversifying its suppliers. As of yet, there has been no official comment from Apple or Samsung.
The agency also reports that Apple is unlikely to use Audience Inc.‘s noise-filtering technology in its new iPhone, according to a public statement made by Audience. Audience’s technology improves voice quality by filtering out background noise, and was featured in the iPhone 4S. The company didn’t explain why its technology wouldn’t be used, but suggested in a conference call that Apple “has built up its own audio team.”
- September 6, 2012
Preparing for a new holiday season of competition with the iPad and iPod touch, Amazon today announced new 7- and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD tablets, and a new $159 version of the Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire HD starts at 16GB and comes equipped with either a 1280x800/7” or 1920x1200/8.9” screen, promising 25 percent less glare than the prior Kindle Fire, plus improved viewing angles and stereo speakers. Kindle Fire HD will feature dual-band Wi-Fi with MIMO, as well as a front-facing camera, helping it to compete more effectively against the third-generation iPad. The 7” 16GB version will sell for $199 starting on September 14, with the 8.9” 16GB version at $299 on November 20. Each will also come in a 32GB model.
As a more direct competitor to the third-generation iPad, Amazon also announced a $499, 32GB version of the 8.9” Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE support as its signature feature. This model is paired with a “breakthrough” $50 per year LTE plan, offering 250MB of data per month for an entire year, for a price of $549 versus $959 for a 32GB iPad with LTE and one year of data service. AT&T is believed to be the LTE data provider, and additional details were not immediately available. Notably, Amazon has not disclosed battery life for the 8.9” Kindle Fire HDs, but claims 11 hours of run time for the 7” model.
As a successor to last year’s Kindle Fire, which Amazon claims holds 22% of the U.S. tablet market, the $159 Fire looks similar to its predecessor, but is being billed as 40 percent faster, with double the RAM and longer battery life. It also ships Sept. 14.
- September 6, 2012
- Apps + Games
Lady Gaga has announced that she will be releasing her next album, Artpop, in the form of a universal iOS app. In a post on LittleMonsters.com, the artist writes that the new album will be a “multimedia experience” available in different forms, including a fully immersive app designed to be “iPad, iPhone, mobile and compute compatible” that will include interactive content such as chats, videos, extra music, games, fashion updates, magazines and more. The app is also expected to receive live updates to allow Lady Gaga to communicate with her fans through regular content postings. Artpop is expected to be released Spring 2013.
- September 6, 2012
- Apps + Games
PopCap has released another set of updates to Plants vs Zombies for both the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad adding a new game mode, additional mini-games and more new content. The latest update adds a “Last Stand” Game Pack with five new levels and an endless game mode. A new set of achievements has also been added: Hammer Time, Standing Still and The Stuff of Legends and users can pick up a new Mallet Pack to help them with zombie-whacking in Survival and Last Stand Endless modes. A number of other items have also been added to the in-game store. Plants vs Zombies is available from the App Store in two versions, Plants vs Zombies ($3) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Plants vs Zombies HD ($7) for the iPad.
- September 6, 2012
More than 12 million Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) allegedly obtained by hacking group AntiSec may have been stolen from an app publisher’s computer. AntiSec claimed that the UDIDs were acquired from a compromised FBI laptop, but Instapaper creator Marco Arment blogged that the information may instead have been taken from a database at Spankapps, built by push notifications issued by the publisher’s novelty apps. Both Apple and the FBI have publicly denied that they were the source of the leaked UDIDs. [via Cult of Mac]
Update September 10, 2012: BlueToad, an Orlando-based company that translates printed content into digital formats, claims that it was the source of the leak, according to The New York Times. The company also said “nowhere near” 12 million UDIDs were stolen.
- September 6, 2012
A class action lawsuit by iPhone 4 owners regarding broken glass on the Apple devices was thrown out by a federal judge in San Jose. The lawsuit argued that Apple claims that the glass was “20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic” were misleading, citing a study that the glass on the iPhone 4 breaks at a rate 82 percent higher than previous iPhones. US District Judge Edward Davila disagreed, stating that “it is a well known fact of life that glass can break under impact,” and ruling that Apple did not breach a warranty or violate consumer protection laws. [via GigaOM]