Apple has released iTunes 11.0.1, which restores the ability to display duplicate items within a user’s iTunes library. The update also fixes an issue where new purchases in iCloud may not appear in a user’s library if iTunes Match is turned on, makes searching a large library more responsive, and fixes a problem where the AirPlay button may not appear. Other stability and performance improvements are also included in the update.
Apple has launched an expanded System Status page on its support website that clearly illustrates whether individual services and stores are operating normally or experiencing issues. The issues are broken down on a detailed timeline that shows when services may have been disrupted, and how many users may have been affected by the problem. For instance, the timeline shows that iCloud Mail and numerous other iCloud services experienced issues this afternoon. A link is also included for users who are experiencing issues not noted on the page. [via The Next Web]
Apple has released its “Best of 2012” list for iTunes. The lists highlight Apple’s 2012 favorites in music, movies, TV, apps, books, and podcasts. In the App Store, Action Movie FX was selected as iPhone App of the Year, with Rayman Jungle Run as iPhone Game of the Year; Paper was named Apple’s iPad App of the Year, while iPad Game of the Year was The Room. Numerous runners up and “editors’ choices” were listed alongside the winners.
Apple’s iPhone has been found to infringe three patents from MobileMedia Ideas, according to a Bloomberg News tweet. A U.S. court made the ruling today. The patents are related to automatic screen rotation, Apple Insider reports. Apple attempted to persuade the court to dismiss the case last month, but was denied. MobileMedia Ideas, which is jointly owned by Sony, Nokia, and MPEG LA, owns “more than 300 patents worldwide,” according to its website.
A new Apple patent published today reveals a new way for a phone to handle incoming calls. Titled “Dynamic context-based auto-response generation,” the patent is a step forward from the call waiting features of iOS6, offering the possibility of answering calls with a pre-recorded message based on caller ID or other attributes.
Another scenario also allows users to manually select an option to answer the call, send it to voice mail, or place it on hold, and the user can enter an estimated hold time for the call, which can be announced to the caller. The patent also describes a method for converting voice mail messages to text. [via Apple Insider]
Amazon has updated its Amazon Instant Video app, adding support for the iPhone and iPod touch. Previously available only for iPad users, the Amazon Instant Video app is now a single, universal app providing access to more than 140,000 videos from the Amazon Instant Video store, and more than 30,000 Prime Instant Video titles are free for Amazon Prime members. The app features “Your Watchlist,” a viewable queue for future viewing, and “Your Video Library,” from which users can download videos for offline viewing. Whispersync lets viewers continue watching videos where they stopped, on any supported devices. A Wi-Fi connection is required for streaming videos, as 3G or 4G streaming is currently not supported.
Google has released its anticipated Google Maps app for iOS. The app is designed for the iPhone and iPod touch, but runs on the iPad in a lower-resolution window. Google Maps features Google’s local search, vector-based maps, voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transit directions, Street View, imagery inside 100,000 businesses worldwide, walking directions, live traffic information, and more. Developers can embed Google Maps into their applications using the new Google Maps SDK for iOS, and a URL scheme allows Google Maps to be launched from any iOS app or web application, giving third-party developers options for circumventing Apple’s Maps.
Google claims that the completely redesigned iOS app is “even better than Google Maps for Android phones,” according to The New York Times. It’s noted that offline map saving and an iPad-specific app will be on the way soon. Google Maps requires iOS 5.1 or later.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “seemed to acknowledge” on a radio show that Apple may be behind a plan to build a 3.2-million square-foot computer chip factory in upstate New York, the Times Union (Albany) reports. The plan has allegedly been pitched to state economic development officials, but not further made public by the company. Cuomo was asked about speculation involving Apple’s interest in the state for a manufacturing site, and he didn’t shy away from mentioning the company by name. “Well, we’re shopping a lot of different companies at any given time,” Cuomo said. “Apple has a lot of competition, obviously, for their location. I don’t think that they’re anywhere yet in the decision-making.” The Times Union reports the “top-secret Apple customer” — possibly Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. — has scouted sites in upstate NY. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently announced the company would bring some Mac production to the U.S. next year; the company will invest more than $100-million in the expansion. [via Apple Insider]
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt compared Android’s growing lead over Apple in mobile software to Microsoft’s software rise in the 1990s, in a Bloomberg Businessweek interview. “This is a huge platform change; this is of the scale of 20 years ago — Microsoft versus Apple,” Schmidt said. “We’re winning that war pretty clearly now.” Android took 72 percent of the market in the third quarter, to Apple’s 14 percent, according to technology research company Gartner, Inc. However, those numbers belie the two companies’ differing business models when it comes to mobile software, as Google gives away its Android operating system to numerous third-party hardware developers, while Apple limits iOS to its own products.
iTunes Store users in 42 more countries now have access to movie sales and rentals, according to Apple Insider. Last week’s iTunes launch in 56 countries initially brought movies to only Russia, Turkey, India, and Indonesia. Access to iTunes Store movies is also now available in: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cape Verde, Dominica, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, St. Kitts and Nevis, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Ukraine and Zimbabwe. Movie availability differs from country to country, as the result of country- and region-specific contractual rights issues.
Apple is currently testing several TV set designs, “people familiar with the situation said,” according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal. The company is working with Asian component suppliers on a large, high-resolution TV, as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. and Sharp have been collaborating on the design, according to sources. “It isn’t a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing,” a source said. The report claims Apple has been testing TV prototypes “for a number of years;” however, it dovetails with statements made by Apple CEO Tim Cook to “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” in which he called TV “an area of intense interest” for Apple.
Logitech has announced the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard ($100), a new wireless keyboard that allows users to switch from typing on a Mac to an iPad or iPhone with the touch of a button. Unlike most rivals, which pair with a single Apple device and complicate the process of switching between platforms, the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard can toggle between devices while typing. Illuminated keys automatically adjust to the brightness of the room, and the case features a real aluminum top to match the Mac.
A USB rechargeable cable allows the keyboard to be used while charging, and a full charge offers 10 days of power. Logitech’s Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard will be released in January.
Twitter’s new iOS app update has arrived in the App Store, and as recently suggested by the company now features eight Instagram-esque photo filters. The filters, powered by Aviary, can be seen in a grid view. An auto-enhancing wand and crop and scale feature are also included in the update. The update comes after Instagram recently disabled its Twitter Card integration — Instagram photos no longer show up on Twitter, instead linking to Instagram’s website, as the two services grow further apart.
The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report criticizing the privacy practices of the makers of kids apps in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. Titled “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade,” the FTC report found almost 60 percent of 400 popular kids apps transmitted device information to the developer or another third party, such as an advertising network. Only 20 percent of the apps reviewed disclosed any information regarding privacy practices. Also, 17 percent of apps reviewed offered the ability to purchase virtual goods within the app — with in-app purchases ranging from 99 cents to $29.99 in the App Store. “The results of the survey are disappointing,” the report reads. “Industry appears to have made little or no progress in improving its disclosures since the first kids’ app survey was conducted, and the new survey confirms that undisclosed sharing is occurring on a frequent basis.” The FTC’s previous report was issued in February.
The report’s conclusion calls on everyone involved in the app marketplace to develop accurate disclosures regarding shared data. It also notes that “FTC staff has initiated a number of investigations to address the gaps between company practices and disclosures. These discrepancies could constitute violations of COPPA or the FTC Act’s prohibition against unfair or deceptive practices.” [via The Wall Street Journal]
Apple has refused to approve an update by Microsoft to its SkyDrive iOS app after the company began offering additional storage subscriptions, according to a report from The Next Web. Microsoft found a recent update to its SkyDrive iOS app rejected by Apple after enabling users of the cloud file-sharing service to purchase more storage space. The report notes that “Microsoft does not appear keen to pay Apple the 30% cut, as it lasts in perpetuity, regardless of whether a user continues to use an iOS device or not, as the billing is through their Apple account;” however, users should be able to cancel App Store-based subscriptions at any time and subscribe through other means. Microsoft has apparently offered to remove all subscription options on the app, but this compromise has not been accepted by Apple.
Since launching in-app subscription services in early 2011, Apple has required developers to use its own In-App Purchasing system for any subscription or content purchases that are accessible from an iOS application. Although companies have traditionally been free to offer their subscription services via other means such as a web site, these cannot be available or advertised within an iOS app unless Apple’s IAP system is being used, for which Apple takes a 30% share of subscription fees.
Notably, this issue also appears to affecting Apple’s approvals of third-party applications that integrate with SkyDrive. While the exact reasons for this are unclear at this time, a similar situation occurred with popular cloud-sharing service Dropbox several months ago, with the problem ultimately being traced to the appearance of subscription purchasing links in the web pages used to log in to the service.
Soundfreaq has announced Sound Platform 2 ($149), an updated version of Sound Platform that now features dual Bluetooth streaming—a novel technology that allows two systems to pair together to act as one system, with each handling left or right audio. Sound Platform 2 also offers larger speaker drivers, enhanced bass, dual USB charging ports, and an auxiliary input, as well as a device tray that can keep user-supplied charging cables out of sight. An optional rechargeable battery offers up to 7 hours of listening. It will be available at Target on Feb. 17, 2013.
Soundfreaq also announced two Lightning versions of its Sound Step speaker, the Sound Step Lightning and Sound Step Recharge Lightning — the latter comes equipped with a rechargeable battery. A new Lightning version of the Sound Rise alarm clock speaker was announced, as well. No prices were announced; these speakers will be available in spring 2013.
The United States Patent & Trademark Office has ruled an Apple multitouch patent — commonly referred to as “the Steve Jobs patent” — as invalid on a non-final basis. All 20 claims of U.S. Patent 7,479,949 were rejected in a first Office action, a preliminary ruling that suggests a patent can be invalidated in the future, though it is being left in effect pending a final determination. The patent is for a “Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics.” This notably follows an October reexamination of Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent for a bounce back effect when scrolling, which similarly concluded on a preliminary basis that all claims would be invalidated. These patents have been at the heart of Apple lawsuits against rivals, and if found invalid would significantly damage the Cupertino company’s litigation positions. [via FOSS Patents]
References to unreleased Microsoft Office applications for iOS devices have been spotted on Microsoft’s support website. The French version of the site makes reference to Excel for iPad, while the Romanian version of the site refers to Office Mobile for iPhone and PowerPoint for iPad. Reports have already pointed to a 2013 release of Office for iOS; these leaks provide further verification of an impending launch. [via MacRumors]
Calling all developers: If your company is interested in participating in iLounge’s 2013 Best of Show Awards, and has not yet received an e-mail from us containing this year’s submission rules, please send an e-mail to Nick Guy today. The rules are now available, and if you’re exhibiting brand new iPad, iPhone, iPod, or Mac products for the first time at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, they may be eligible for Awards consideration. Our deadline for submissions is December 21, 2012.
Our annual Awards honor the very best new Apple-related products debuted at CES, and are limited in number; they are open solely to official exhibitors with booths at the Las Vegas Convention Center or LVH. Contact Nick for details today.
Bose has introduced the SoundDock Series III digital music system ($250), which is compatible with the Lightning connector and built for the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, and seventh-generation iPod nano, but not iPads. It’s the newest edition of Bose’s SoundDock Series — the original SoundDock debuted in 2004, followed by the SoundDock Series II in 2008, as well as the SoundDock Portable in 2007 and the SoundDock 10 in 2009. This is the first SoundDock to sell for less than $299, a price point that we’ve noted repeatedly was too high for the regular SoundDocks given the quality of the audio hardware inside.
An included remote controls the SoundDock Series III and playback controls for the iPhone or iPod, and an auxiliary input for other audio devices is also included. The SoundDock Series III is available now.