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Squier by Fender debuts Strat Guitar for iOS

Squier by Fender has introduced the Strat Guitar ($200), a new Stratocaster guitar that features iOS and USB connectivity. A mini-USB to Dock Connector cable and mini-USB to USB cable are included for connecting to an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Mac/PC for playing and recording.

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The Strat Guitar also comes with a stereo headphone jack with volume control and an analog output lets the guitar function as a traditional Stratocaster that can plug into any amp, as well. It is available now.

Lantronix debuts xPrintServer - Office Edition

Lantronix has announced xPrintServer - Office Edition ($200), a new addition to its xPrintServer family, following up on its prior xPrintServer Home Edition. xPrintServer is a hardware solution that lets users print directly from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod to nearly any network-connected or USB printer via AirPrint.

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The new Office Edition expands on the original network edition, offering new security and enterprise management features, including remote authentication, proxy server support, and the ability to network-enable USB printers. It is currently available for pre-order and ships Nov. 21.

Bluelounge debuts Milo Aluminum stand

Bluelounge announced its new Milo Aluminum ($30) stand, an updated, weightier, high-grade aluminum version of its original Milo stand. It holds an iPhone or iPod in place without adhesives, using a micro-suction pad — another micro-suction pad on the foot of the Milo Aluminum secures the stand to a surface. The Milo Aluminum is available in black or white.

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OtterBox acquires Wrapsol

Case maker Otterbox announced the acquisition of Wrapsol, noted maker of protective films. “Wrapsol is a promising company with similar values and similar culture whose product aligns with the OtterBox mission of complete, premium device protection,” OtterBox President and CEO Brian Thomas said in a press release. “Adding Wrapsol to the OtterBox portfolio of world-class protection significantly enhances our ability to provide our customers and consumers an expanded variety of high-quality products.” Otterbox is based in Fort Collins, Colo.; Wrapsol is a Boston-based company.

Apple to pay Samsung legal fees in UK judgment

  • November 13, 2012
  • Apple,

Apple has been ordered to pay Samsung’s legal fees on an indemnity basis, after being ordered to remove a “false and misleading” notice of judgment it had previously posted on the Apple U.K. website. The legal decision was rendered due to Apple’s initial website notice in which the company made reference to its “cool” and “far more popular” iPad in comparison to the Galaxy tablet and pointed to other courts’ decisions in Apple’s favor in similar cases. As noted in the judgment, fees awarded on an indemnity basis are “higher than the normal, ‘standard’ basis” and were awarded “as a mark of the court’s disapproval of a party’s conduct, particularly in relation to its respect for an order of the court. Apple’s conduct warranted such an order.” Further analysis of the removed website notice is included in this most recent decision, stemming from Apple’s appeal loss to Samsung over tablet design infringement.

iPhone 5 coming to China in early December?

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, China Telecom may be offering the iPhone 5 for sale in China as soon as early December or even late November. Both China Telecom and larger rival China Unicom have been waiting for approval from the Chinese government to begin selling the iPhone 5, and although government officials have been quiet on when such approval may be granted, Chairman Wang Xiaochu of state-controlled China Telecom suggested it could be right around the corner. In a brief interview on Friday, Mr. Wang indicated that he expected it to by early December “if not sooner” although China Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing was reportedly less certain, indicating that his company hopes “to offer it this year” and is simply waiting on the government to grant the necessary licenses for the device’s release in China.

The Wall Street Journal report goes on to note that China has become an extremely important part of Apple’s business as a result of the country’s growing middle class, with China sales totalling $5.7 billion in Q4 2012, or 16 percent of the company’s total revenue for that quarter. The release of Apple iPads and iPhones in China has typically lagged behind launches in other countries, possibly due to need to meet demand in the U.S. market along with the tests and licensing restrictions required by the Chinese Government.

Apple seeds iOS 6.1 beta 2 to developers

Apple has seeded developers with a second beta version of iOS 6.1. As with prior iOS beta updates, beta 2 is available as an over-the-air software update or as a direct download from the iOS Dev Center, and is accompanied by a new beta version of the Apple TV software, as well as an updated version of Xcode and the iOS 6.1 SDK. The new version is listed as build 10B5105c; it is unclear what changes may be contained in the release. iOS 6.1 beta 2 is available now to registered iOS developers.

Apple and HTC settle patent dispute

  • November 12, 2012
  • Apple,

Apple has announced that it has settled its long-running patent dispute with HTC, bringing an end to a legal battle between the two companies dating back to March 2010.

The dispute began with Apple filing a patent infringement suit against HTC alleging infringement of 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone. HTC subsequently filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) outlining five of its own patents that it believed Apple was infringing upon and Apple countered by filing two similar complaints with the ITC. Following a ruling in Apple’s favour in July 2011, HTC indicated that it was open to negotiations with Apple, but later filed a patent infringement suit against Apple in August 2011. This was followed by another ruling in Apple’s favour by ITC resulting in an import ban on some HTC products and the more recent possibility that HTC could be seeking similar bans on the iPhone and iPad.

While the specific terms are confidential, the global settlement includes the dismissal of all current lawsuits between the two companies and a ten-year license agreement that extends to all current and future patents held by both parties.

iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular pre-orders begin shipping

  • November 12, 2012
  • iPad,

U.S. customers who pre-ordered fourth-generation iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular models have begun receiving notices that their devices have shipped, according to a new report by MacRumours. Notices indicate that devices are enroute to customers via FedEx with an expected delivery date of Friday, November 16th. This follows another report from last week that customers who had pre-ordered the iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular models had begun receiving notifications of expected ship dates, however as of yet there have still been no reports of any actual iPad mini shipment notices, so it remains unclear whether iPad mini pre-orders will make the same Friday delivery window.

Apple airs two new iPad mini TV ads

Apple has started to air two new TV commercials for the iPad mini. Following in the theme of the company’s first iPad mini ad, Piano, the two new spots eschew narration in favour of simply highlighting features of the iPad mini alongside the full-size iPad. Photos shows off iPhoto for iOS being used on both devices to browse through a photo library to the theme of the classic Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer song “Two of a Kind.” The second spot, Books compares the iPad and iPad mini by showing a number of classic books being opened in iBooks on the two devices, ending by focusing in on the iPad mini and showing the iBooks reading experience. Both ads are available for viewing now on Apple’s website.

Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad minis shipping in five business days

Customers who pre-ordered the iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular model have begun receiving notifications that their device is expected to ship within the next five business days, corresponding to the mid-November availability date that has been listed on Apple’s website. Four new iOS 6.0.1 firmware downloads have also now appeared for the Cellular versions of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad in the form of a GSM and CDMA version for each device. Currently, both Wi-Fi and Cellular iPad mini models are listed on Apple’s U.S. Store with a shipping estimate of two weeks. [via Apple Insider]

AT&T to expand FaceTime over Cellular access

AT&T has announced that it will begin allowing FaceTime over Cellular at no additional charge for customers with an LTE device on any tiered data plan. Apple added the ability to use FaceTime over a cellular data connection in iOS 6, however AT&T originally announced that only customers on Mobile Share plans would have access to the new feature on the AT&T network, a move that sparked a complaint to the FCC. Notably, AT&T is the only iPhone carrier that required users to be on specific data plans to use the FaceTime over Cellular feature.

AT&T now expects to roll out this additional functionality during the next eight to ten weeks. In a post on the company’s website titled “A Few Thoughts on FaceTime”, AT&T’s Jim Cicconi wrote that AT&T initially took a “cautious” approach — limiting FaceTime over Cellular to specific shared data plans — because the company’s engineers couldn’t effectively assess network impact. Several recent billing plans also allow deaf and hard of hearing customers to use FaceTime. Cicconi anticipates AT&T will “expand the availability of FaceTime to our customers on other billing plans in the near future.” Note that this policy change applies only to tiered plans; FaceTime over Cellular will remain unavailable for customers still on unlimited data plans.

Report: Apple to push supplier code of conduct on MFi licensees

  • November 8, 2012
  • Apple,

A report from TUAW regarding Apple’s MFi manufacturers’ conference in Shenzhen, China indicates that the company may be planning to require third-party accessory makers to comply with its supplier code of conduct, as a condition of licensing under the MFi program. The Apple Supplier Code of Conduct — which requires safe and healthy working conditions, fair hiring practices, and other standards — currently only applies to supply chain partners and component vendors for Apple’s own products; a requirement for third-party manufacturers to also comply with the code would be another strong push by Apple to exercise further control over the outer reaches of its accessory ecosystem. 

Soundfreaq debuts Sound Kick Chromatics

Soundfreaq announced Sound Kick Chromatics ($99), limited color editions of its award-winning portable Sound Kick speaker. The Chromatics Collection includes Sound Kick Sunset, a mix of yellow, orange and pink; Ocean, a blue and yellow blend; Twilight, a blue and purple mix; and GHOST, an all-white edition.

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A Bluetooth speaker, the original Sound Kick won iLounge’s Overall Best of Show Award at 2012 CES. Chromatics are available for pre-order now, and the speakers will ship “in time for the holidays.”

Apple Store app adds Siri, expands EasyPay to new countries

Apple has updated its Apple Store iPhone and iPod touch app adding Siri integration for compatible devices and rolled out its EasyPay feature to five additional countries. With the latest version, users can now make requests to Siri such as “I want to buy an iPad mini” or “Find prices on MacBook Pro” directly opening the Apple Store app to the appropriate page. Users in Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany can also now take advantage of EasyPay, a feature that allows purchases to be made in an Apple Retail Store with an iPhone 4/4S/5 by scanning the barcode with the camera and completing the transaction directly within the app. Apple Store 2.4 requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple patent applications: Internal fan, headphones, packaging

  • November 8, 2012
  • Apple,

Three newly published Apple patent applications filed Thursday show some possibilities for future Apple devices. The first application examines a cooling system for mobile devices which could presumably provide options for cooling future iPhones, iPods and iPads. Configured to drive both a fan and alert device, the patent describes a shared motor and clutch that would save space by powering both the fan and the device’s vibrating function. The description notes that faster, more powerful processors could produce more heat within mobile devices and an internal fan within the device would alleviate that problem; air could be pulled into the device through an input port, whether it be a new, dedicated port, or an existing component such as a headphone jack.

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In a second application, Apple presented a new dual-mode headphone design which could also be used as a speaker system. The headphones would be able to detect if they were being used near a user’s ears to determine if they should be in “headphone mode” or “speaker mode”, with the audio signal passing through an amplifier in the latter case that would be bypassed in headphone mode.

The third application involves a new design for multi-use packaging that would allow packaging such as plastic iPod touch cases to be re-used to store or display an item. Various configurations coudl be employed including an integrated hinge to support a lid which could be used to prop up an item for display. All three applications were originally filed on May 2, 2011. As with all Apple patents, these applications do not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offer evidence of the company’s research and interest in various areas. [via Patently Apple]

Blue Microphones releases Spark Digital microphone

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Blue Microphones released Spark Digital ($200), an iOS-compatible digital studio microphone that can also connect via USB or Lightning adapter, with an emphasis on iPad use. Spark Digital features Focus Control, which allows for low frequency sensitivity or a focus on greater clarity and detail in recording. The microphone’s components allow for high-fidelity recording of vocals, drums, piano, speech, location recording, and more. A headphone jack is also present on the mic to allow for zero-latency signal monitoring.

Marshall debuts Major 50 FX Headphones

Marshall has announced the Major 50 FX ($170), a new set of special edition headphones to commemorate the company’s 50th anniversary. The on-ear headphones feature 40mm moving coil dynamic speakers and are adorned with gold accents and the same fret detailing found in Marshall’s 50th anniversary line of amplifiers. An inscription of the company’s founding year and location is found on the headband, which is constructed from the same vinyl used for Marshall amps. The Major 50 FX also includes an in-line Apple-certified mic and remote with volume control and a canvas carrying case. Major 50 FX Headphones are now available.

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Former Apple manager: Apple has ‘passed peak’

  • November 7, 2012
  • Apple,

Former Apple engineering manager Dan Crow believes the company’s best days are behind it, he opines in a column for The Guardian. As Crow writes, “…I think Apple has peaked and the story of the next few years will be one of slow but real decline.” Crow cites “a number of signs” showing that Apple is on a downhill slide, including the recent missteps with iOS 6 Maps and the executive reshuffle that jettisoned Scott Forstall and John Browett — with Browett’s decisions during his brief retail reign being an example of “Apple putting its corporate needs ahead of its customers.” He also refers to the fourth-generation iPad as an “insipid update.”

Crow says that after the death of Steve Jobs, Apple has had issues with balancing hype and product.  He concludes that Apple has yet to find its way in the post-Jobs era and the company has “serious structural faults.”

Foxconn ‘falling short’ of meeting iPhone demand

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou said the company’s Hon Hai unit is having trouble keeping up with iPhone manufacturing demands, Reuters reports. “It’s not easy to make the iPhones. We are falling short of meeting the huge demand,” Gou told reporters. He declined to comment on reports that another unit, Foxconn International Holdings, has taken on some production. More than a month after the iPhone 5’s initial release, Apple’s website still shows the smartphone as available to ship in “3-4 weeks.”

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