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Report: Microsoft Office for iOS in early 2013

Microsoft will release a version of Office for iOS in early 2013, according to The Verge. Office Mobile will debut as free apps, and users will be able to view documents with a Microsoft account. At first offering basic viewing functionality, an Office 365 subscription will allow users to edit documents. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that “Office will work across Windows Phone, iOS and Android.” First reported in early October, it’s now expected Office Mobile for iOS will debut in late February or early March.

Apple to pay $368.2M for FaceTime infringement

  • November 7, 2012
  • Apple,

Apple must pay $368.2 million to VirnetX for infringing VPN patents for use in FaceTime, a federal jury in east Texas ruled. The patents entail using a domain-name service to set up secure virtual private networks. VirnetX, which sought $708 million in damages, won a ruling against Microsoft in 2010. After the verdict, a lawyer for VirnetX said the company would seek to block further use of its inventions. [via Bloomberg]

Updated Nov. 9: VirnetX filed a new lawsuit against Apple — this lawsuit concerns infringement on the same patents, but it covers new Apple devices not included in the previous lawsuit, including iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod Touch, fourth-generation iPad, iPad mini, and the new Macs.

iHealth debuts new Scale, Blood Pressure monitors

iHealth Labs has announced three new iOS-compatible devices — a new scale and two new blood pressure monitors. The Wireless Body Analysis Scale ($110) is an updated version of the company’s iHealth Scale, which can now track weight, body fat, lean mass, muscle mass, bone mass, body water, visceral fat rating, and daily calorie intake, while automatically detecting which user is standing on the scale. Results are shown through the new, free iHealth MyVitals app or on the scale itself.

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iHealth’s Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor ($100) tests, tracks, and shares blood pressure information using a Bluetooth-connected upper-arm cuff. It’s an updated wireless version of the company’s previous blood pressure monitor. The Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor ($80) is similar, but fits around the wrist instead of the upper arm. Both devices also use the IHealth MyVitals app.

Fourth-gen iPad now ‘in stock’ on Apple site

Fourth-generation Wi-Fi iPads are now listed as “in stock” on Apple’s website, ready to ship immediately; retail stores also continue to have the new iPads available immediately. Delays in shipping time for the fourth-generation iPad continue to be much shorter than those for the iPad mini — the Wi-Fi mini is still listed as available to ship in two weeks. The Wi-Fi and Cellular models for both devices are still listed as available to ship in mid-November. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple-Motorola patent lawsuit dismissed

  • November 6, 2012
  • Apple,

An Apple lawsuit against Google’s Motorola Mobility over alleged patent abuse was dismissed from Wisconsin federal court hours before going to trial, Reuters reports. Apple sought fair licensing over patents Google acquired along with Motorola, but District Judge Barbara Crabb dismissed the case. Crabb questioned whether she had legal authority to hear the claims, and it’s possible that Apple will appeal the decision. Apple recently offered Motorola $1 per iPhone for licensing standard-essential wireless patents.

Griffin, Ballistic unveil iPad mini cases

Griffin and Ballistic both announced lines of iPad mini cases, with Griffin releasing six cases for the device: The rugged Survivor ($60) comes with a clip-on stand, while IntelliCase ($35-40) offers a flexible front cover, and CinemaSeat ($40) includes an adjustable strap to fit around a car seat headrest. Three folio-style cases — Folio ($40-45), Slim Folio ($40), and Passport ($35) — round out the group.

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Ballistic introduced two cases for the iPad mini. Tough Jacket ($60) offers three layers of protection and a kickstand. It comes in black, black/hot pink, and black/white color combinations. Smooth ($40) comes in black, charcoal, hot pink, and purple and features interchangeable corners.

Google Maps coming for iOS, sources doubt approval

  • November 5, 2012
  • Apple,

A Google Maps app for iOS is reportedly in development and could be released by year’s end, but sources at Google are “not optimistic” the app will be approved by Apple, according to a report from The Guardian. Sources say plans are only proceeding in “the unlikely event” of the app’s approval. A number of reasons are given as to why sources speculate Apple won’t approve Google Maps, from industry politics to the current App Store setup, which lacks any mapping app using Google Maps APIs in the “Find maps for your iPhone” section of the store. It’s also noted, however, that Google and Apple are still in constant communication, so an agreement between the companies could be made quickly.

Sharp rumored to seek Apple investment

  • November 5, 2012
  • Apple,

Japanese display manufacturer Sharp is looking for investments from other companies, with Japanese media reports linking the company to Apple and Intel, according to a report from IDG News Service. Known for some time to be struggling, Sharp announced that there is “material doubt” about its ability to keep operating. The company is looking to cut costs and secure enough credit to survive, while placing more emphasis on its IGZO technology for mobile displays going forward. Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn agreed to purchase an 11 percent stake in Sharp earlier this year. Also, Sharp is already an Apple component supplier, and there’s been speculation that Apple will use IGZO technology in future devices, lending more credence to a possible Apple investment. [via 9to5Mac]

Belkin debuts Lightning accessories; car charger & dock

Belkin announced the first official third-party Lightning accessories to hit the market, the Car Charger ($30) and Charge + Sync Dock ($30). The Car Charger is a 10W charger that fits any car power outlet, while the Charge + Sync Dock uses a Lightning cable to charge a docked iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, or seventh-generation iPod nano. An extra auxiliary port is also included on the Charge + Sync Dock for audio purposes.

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Both products are currently available for pre-order and ship Nov. 15.

JBL debuts J Series Headphones, aWake speaker

JBL announced a new line of headphones — the J Series — and a new bedside speaker, the OnBeat aWake. Eight new headphones are featured in the J Series, and all “i” editions in the J Series include a three-button remote and microphone. The on-ear J55 ($80) and J55i ($100) feature 1 5/8” drivers, leather ear cushions, and a locking mechanism for the detachable cable. Both come in black, white, or orange and white. Over-ear headphones, the J88 ($130) and J88i ($150), feature 2” drivers and come in the same colors as the on-ear headphones. Four in-ear headphones — the J22 ($40), J22i ($60), J33 ($60), and J331 ($80) — ship with three sizes of silicone sleeves, and the J33 and J33i include Comply foam tips, in addition to featuring nickel-plated drivers and a strain-relief grip to reduce cable wear. All in-ear headphones come in black and white.

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JBL’s OnBeat aWake ($139) is a tabletop wireless Bluetooth speaker that includes a dock for Dock Connector devices. The aWake was designed to fit a pre-Lightning iPad in its dock, in addition to other iOS devices. Two full-range drivers are included in the speaker, which up to eight users can connect to at once using Bluetooth. Its alarm function can use music from an iTunes library, and an auxiliary input allows other devices to use the aWake as a speaker. JBL’s free downloadable app, AmpUp, features customized music settings for waking or falling asleep, on-screen calendar access, AccuWeather weather reports, more than 20 wallpaper styles with clock settings, analog or digital clock styles, and a nighttime mode.

Teardown: iPad mini costs at least $188 to build

Research firm IHS reports that the iPad mini costs at least $188 to build, after its teardown of a Wi-Fi-only 16GB mini. Adding additional memory increases the cost only slightly while adding a fair amount of profit — an additional $90 in profit for the 32GB model, and $162 for the 64GB model. It’s important to bear in mind that this teardown only includes cost of materials; manufacturing, labor, research and development, and any other expenses are unaccounted for in analyzing the actual profit of the tested device, which sells for $329. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer notably mentioned during the company’s fourth quarter conference call that iPad mini has higher costs, and said that the gross margin is significantly below Apple’s corporate average, suggesting that manufacturing expenses are higher than usual. [via AllThingsD]

iLounge’s iPad mini, iPad (4th-Gen) reviews note surprises, flaws

  • November 5, 2012
  • iPad,

iLounge has published comprehensive reviews of the new iPad mini (iLounge Rating: A-) and fourth-generation iPad (iLounge Rating: B+), including a number of details that are particularly worthy of your attention. Some of the findings include:

While short of Retina detail levels, the iPad mini’s screen performance offers considerably better color rendition, dark blacks, and viewing angles than the pre-Retina screens on iPhones and iPod touches. The front camera performs more or less identically to the latest full-sized iPad—and better than prior models—but the rear camera has a smaller lens than the third- and fourth-generation iPads, slightly reducing its light-gathering ability. Processor performance is actually in line with the third-generation iPad.

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The iPad mini fell short of Apple’s 10-hour Wi-Fi browsing claims in our testing, somewhat exceeded the company’s estimate for video, and offered comparable run times to the full-sized iPad for gaming. Apple ships the iPad mini with a 5W USB charger that takes longer to refuel the device than necessary; it is actually capable of recharging faster than any prior iPad, when used with a 10W or 12W charger.

By comparison, Apple’s new fourth-generation iPad showed strong processor improvements in benchmarking that are only modestly visible at this point in actual software; the most noteworthy speed improvement we saw was in photo transferring, which was three times faster on this iPad than its predecessor when using either new or old, adapter-aided accessories. The shift to a Lightning connector does not at this point offer any benefit to users, and accessories cost more, suggesting that the discontinued prior version may be a better value for those seeking a full-sized iPad in the immediate future. One of our review units arrived with a full line of dead pixels, and the other had a sticky material on the back by its camera, suggesting that quality control is suffering relative to the impressive third-generation model. Both iPads exhibited stuttering issues when streaming certain AirPlay Mirrored content to the Apple TV.

The fourth-generation iPad fell slightly short of its predecessor in some battery tests, while coming out ahead in others. Web browsing and game playing both took small hits relative to the third-generation model, while video playback and recording both jumped. Apple’s new 12W USB Power Adapter is included with the new iPad, and does in fact enable it to recharge somewhat faster than the 10W version, bringing the time closer to 5 hours. We strongly suspect that Apple will bring the iPad mini’s design philosophy over to the next full-sized iPad, and has used this minor update to create a Lightning-equipped model that will drop in price like the iPad 2 when a fully redesigned sequel is released next year.

Our full reviews of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad have plenty of additional detail.

Apple: 3M iPads sold in three days

Apple announced it has sold three million iPads in the three days surrounding the launch of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad. The company did not mention how many of those sales were specific to the mini, versus the fourth-generation iPad and iPad 2; the company ceased sales of the third-generation iPad leading up to the new models’ release. CEO Tim Cook said in the statement, “We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad minis.” Apple notes that the sales of the Wi-Fi-only models double the milestone of the third-generation iPad’s release, which featured 1.5 million Wi-Fi only iPad sales in its first weekend.

Apple Lightning to Micro USB Adapter now available in North America

Apple has released its Lightning to Micro USB Adapter (seen in our First Look here) in North America. Priced at $19, the adapter was originally available only in Europe due to a European Union directive requiring Micro USB compatibility for smartphone charging. The new Adapter allows users to connect a Lightning connector-equipped iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to a computer or power source using a standard Micro USB connection, however it is worth noting that the adapter sells for the same price as Apple’s Lightning to USB Cable, making it a practical option only for those with a specific need to use a Micro USB connection.

Macally debuts iPad mini, iPod touch cases

Macally has introduced a new line of cases for the iPad mini and fifth-generation iPod touch. For the iPad mini, the company announced four relatively plain-named cases: the Leather Case & Stand, Slim Folio Stand Case, Reversible Cover and Hardshell Case with Stand, and Rotating Folio Case with Stand. All of these iPad mini cases have lids, and sell for $50.

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Two new cases have also been introduced for the fifth-generation iPod touch: the Flexible Protective Case ($10), a very inexpensive TPU plastic case that comes in white or black, and the Protective Flexible Case with Stand ($25), a more complex mix of hard and soft plastics that comes in green/lime and blue/yellow color combos, adding a flip-out stand to the back.

Report: Apple loses iPhone trademark in Mexico?

Apple has lost the exclusive rights to the iPhone trademark in Mexico, according to a report from El Universal. The Mexican company iFone, which registered its brand in 2003, has been confirmed as the legitimate owner of the trademark. Apple originally sought to prevent iFone from using its name.* It’s unclear as of yet what the fallout from the decision will be, though iFone corporate lawyer Eduardo Gallástegui said iFone is entitled to compensation for damage to the brand. [via 9to5Mac]

* Updated: The Verge reports that the Mexican court’s ruling does not as yet prohibit Apple from using the iPhone name for its own products, but rather permits iFone to use its name as it was previously registered for a somewhat separate class of products, regardless of Apple’s opposition.

iFixit: fourth-gen iPad teardown surprise-free

  • November 2, 2012
  • iPad,

iFixit’s teardown of the fourth-generation iPad didn’t uncover any real surprises, as most of the components and the battery are the same as in the third-generation iPad. One possible exception is the LG display, instead of the Samsung display seen in the company’s teardown of the third-generation iPad; however, as Apple uses multiple suppliers, other LCD manufacturers could be found in other third- and fourth-generation iPads.

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All new additions to the fourth-generation iPad came as advertised — Lightning connector, front-facing 1.2 MP FaceTime HD camera, and the new A6X processor, notably all without major modifications to the interior of the third-generation model. iFixit gave the latest iPad a repairability score of 2 out of 10, same as the iPad mini.

iPad (4th-Gen) unboxing and comparison gallery posted

  • November 2, 2012
  • iPad,

Following our earlier unboxing and comparison gallery for Apple’s iPad mini, iLounge has just posted a full unboxing and comparison gallery for the fourth-generation iPad to Flickr.

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Our photos spotlight some of the subtle changes that have been made to the packaging and new iPad, including the new Home Screen image and icon arrangement on the front of each box, the newer package’s replacement of the iCloud logo with a second Apple logo, and both the front camera and Lightning port tweaks to the iPad’s body. Interestingly, Apple has reduced the size of the front camera hole despite having improved its resolution, and removed the rear capacity designation from the iPad’s back, consistent with the new iPad mini. The photos also show that Apple now includes a 12W USB Power Adapter with the iPad, as well as a Lightning to USB Cable, and a very limited instruction card.

A review of the fourth-generation iPad will be posted in the near future.

uNu debuts Ecopak iPhone 5 battery case

uNu announced the Ecopak ($80), a battery case for the iPhone 5. The Ecopak features a 2500 mAh battery, which uNu claims will increase the iPhone 5’s battery life by roughly two times. When additional battery power isn’t required, the battery pack can be detached. A USB output is included for power sharing with any other mobile device.

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Ecopak will include an LED power indicator to prevent unnecessary recharging, and will come in eight different snap case colors, with three different detachable battery styles. The Ecopak is currently available for pre-order.

iPad mini unboxing, comparison gallery posted

  • November 2, 2012
  • iPad,

iLounge has posted a complete unboxing and comparison gallery for Apple’s new iPad mini to Flickr. Photos of the new pint-sized mini showcase both of its colors and packaging, in addition to size comparisons with the iPod touch, iPhone 5, and full-sized iPads. The photos also show that Apple included the 5W USB Power Adapter with the iPad mini, rather than the larger 12W Adapter that was previously suggested to be inside.

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Our First Look at the new iPad mini is here. A comprehensive review will be posted in the near future.

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