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Griffin introduces MouthStick Stylus

Griffin has announced its MouthStick Stylus ($30), a stylus affixed to a mouthpiece that allows people with fine motor impairments to use digital devices. The MouthStick Stylus was designed in collaboration with physicians and people with physical disabilities. It works with touch screens, laptop keyboards, and Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

 

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The mouthpiece holding the rubber-tipped aluminum stylus is made from food-grade stainless steel and comes with three sets of BPA- and latex-free silicone rubber mouthpiece sleeves. A gooseneck shaft allows the stylus to be used at any angle. Griffin’s MouthStick Stylus will be released in the second quarter of this year.

Apps: Amazon Cloud Player 2.0, Haze, Spotify 0.6 + Yelp 6.5

Amazon has debuted version 2.0 of Amazon Cloud Player (free), featuring an updated design with iPad and iPad mini support. The new interface includes a setting that allows users to manage the size of their offline cache of stored music, a buffer that lets Cloud Player function as an alternative to Apple’s Music app, getting around in-app purchasing by offering Safari-based track buying options.

 

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Robocat’s Haze ($1) is a new weather app with a clean, simple interface and nice animations. Features include motion tilt/slide navigation and a gyroscope-driven wind compass. In addition to providing the standard high and low temperatures in celsius or fahrenheit, windchill, windspeed, wind direction, sunshine hours, UV info, cloud coverage, sunrise and sunset times are included, among other data. Multiple themes allow users to personalize the app.

PowerSkin debuts iPhone 5 PowerSkin battery case

PowerSkin has announced its new battery case for the iPhone 5 — an accessory eponymously named PowerSkin ($80). A thin, one-piece silicone case, PowerSkin features a 1500 mAh battery, and claims to recharge the iPhone 5 up to 70 percent capacity. The case promises to deliver up to 6.5 hours of talk time, up to 8 hours of Wi-Fi, and up to 32 hours of audio playback.

 

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PowerSkin comes in black with an earphone extender for 3.5 mm headphones. It’s available now, with free express shipping through March 7 on PowerSkin’s website.

Corning: At least three years until flexible displays

  • February 28, 2013
  • Apple,

Apple screen glass supplier Corning claims that “it will probably take at least three years before companies start making flexible displays using its new Willow material,” according to a report. Corning Glass Technologies president James Clappin said that companies have yet to come up with products that can fully take advantage of Willow glass, which can roll up in a manner similar to newsprint. Recent reports have suggested that Apple could use Willow to create a curved glass display in its rumored iWatch; Apple is said to be experimenting with curved glass designs, but it appears unlikely that Willow will be used in the immediate future. Corning is currently producing Willow glass, and teaching “very big name” customers how to handle it, Clappin said. [via Bloomberg]

iTunes U content downloads top one billion

Apple announced this morning that iTunes U content downloads have now exceeded one billion. iTunes U features “the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content” from schools and other learning organizations, including lectures, books, assignments, quizzes, and more. Apple claims more than 1,200 universities and colleges and 1,200 K-12 schools and districts now host more than 2,500 public and thousands of private courses on iTunes U. “It’s inspiring to see what educators and students of all types are doing with iTunes U,” Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue said in a press release. “With the incredible content offered on iTunes U, students can learn like never before―there are now iTunes U courses with more than 250,000 students enrolled in them, which is a phenomenal shift in the way we teach and learn.”

 

Apple shareholder proposals rejected, Cook Q&A

  • February 27, 2013
  • Apple,

Apple held its annual shareholder meeting today in Cupertino, California, tabulating votes on corporate governance proposals and taking a limited number of questions from the audience. A majority of shareholders notably voted against proposals to establish a board committee on human rights, as well as a requirement that Apple executives retain 33 percent of their company shares until retirement; both proposals were opposed by Apple. The company’s existing board of directors was re-elected. Rumored announcements of a 2-for-1 stock split or an increased dividend did not materialize.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also took questions. Cook was asked if he still thought David Einhorn’s lawsuit was silly, to which Cook replied, “I absolutely do.” He still believes it was a “silly sideshow” despite a recent court ruling blocking Apple’s proxy proposal to issue preferred stock without investor approval. As for Apple’s falling stock price, Cook said, “I don’t like it either,” but mentioned that the board and management are “focused on the long term.” Cook acknowledged that Apple was looking at new categories of products, without providing any further specifics. [via CNBC]

Amazon warns against iOS Kindle app 3.6.1 update

Amazon is warning users not to update the iOS Kindle app, as the most recent release of the software appears to be deleting entire book libraries and saved settings from iOS devices, according to customer reviews. Amazon notes that version 3.6.1 of the app has a known issue: “If you are an existing Kindle for iOS user, we recommend you do not install this update at this time.”

Update: Amazon has released a new version of the iOS Kindle app, 3.6.2, which features a “fix for registration issue” and “various bug fixes and security fixes.”

MLB Passbook ticketing expanding to 13 ballparks

Major League Baseball announced at a fan event that 13 teams will accept Passbook tickets at their ballparks this season, up from four stadiums last year. It’s confirmed that the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s, and Pittsburgh Pirates will start accepting Passbook tickets for the first time in the 2013 MLB season. Additionally, the Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, and San Francisco Giants will accept Passbook again this season, as they did last September. Three more teams will also allow Passbook ticketing, but have yet to make an official announcement. One of those teams may be the Boston Red Sox, a team that allowed Passbook ticketing last year, but was not mentioned in the new report. [via GigaOM]

Hong Kong group alleges Apple vendor abuses

  • February 27, 2013
  • Apple,

Apple has again drawn criticism for contractor labor practices, this time in a report from Hong Kong watchdog group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM). SACOM maintains that Apple is not upholding basic human rights through its monitoring of suppliers; rather, it claims that supplier factories are “intensifying a military-style management of workers.” There are allegations of denying “bathroom breaks, sufficient rest, and access to proper nutrition.” SACOM reports work weeks of 70-100 hours and alleged unpaid overtime work, among other alleged violations, concluding that “Apple suppliers are indeed sweatshops that exploit their workers.”

Responding to a protest outside of a Hong Kong Apple store, a spokeswoman for Apple China told the South China Morning Post, “We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made.” [via 9to5Mac]

France, Holland, Sweden get iTunes Cloud videos

Apple appears to have launched iTunes in the Cloud movie and TV show support in France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, according to new reports. French website iGen first reported the availability of Cloud movies and TV shows in France, while Twitter users in the Netherlands and Sweden have reported the same access. Notably, Apple has not yet updated its iTunes in the Cloud country list to include these three countries.

Update: Apple has confirmed that Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden now have iTunes in the Cloud movie support, while France also has TV show support. [via The Next Web]

Adobe releases Photoshop Touch for iPhone, iPod touch

Adobe has released “Photoshop Touch for phone” ($5) as a standalone app for the iPhone and iPod touch. Overlapping with its previous Photoshop Touch app for iPads, it includes core Photoshop features such as combining images, applying professional effects, and sharing results on Facebook and Twitter, here capped at 12-Megapixel image sizes. The user interface has been modified to make better use of Apple’s smaller screens.

 

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Prior Photoshop Touch features are also included, such as Scribble Selection, which offers high-precision selections using your finger, and Camera Fill, which lets users fill a layer using the iPhone or iPod touch’s camera. Since the app is not universal, users will have to buy both Photoshop Touch apps separately to take advantage of a feature that lets users start a project on the iPhone or iPod touch and finish on the iPad.

Brother debuts HL-3000 color printers with AirPrint

Brother has announced its new HL-3000 series of digital color printers, including the AirPrint-compatible HL-3140CW ($250) and HL-3170CDW ($280). Thanks to the AirPrint functionality, users will be able to print wirelessly from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch without installing a printer driver. The HL-3140CW offers color and black printing up to 19 ppm, up to 600x2400 dpi resolution, and support of wireless 802.11 b/g/n and USB 2.0 interfaces, while the HL-3170CDW offers all the features of the 3140CW, as well as faster printing up to 23 ppm, dual-sided printing, an additional Ethernet interface, and other features. Both printers will be available in March.

Apps: Akinator, The Atlantic, MLB At Bat + Year Walk

Elokence’s popular Akinator the Genie app ($2) has just been optimized for the iPhone 5. For those unfamiliar with the title, Akinator is a genie who guesses what real or fictional character you’re thinking of through yes-or-no questions and a surprisingly robust database. Results can be shared on Facebook, and the 12+ rated app also has a child filter so kids can play safely. People you know can also be added to the game through customization, and the database continues to grow through user-submitted results. If you want to sample the content for free, the Akinator website will give you a good idea of what to expect.

 

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Though it has supported the iPad for quite some time, The Atlantic Magazine: Digital Edition (free) is now also formatted for the iPhone after a recent update, which includes adjustable font size and navigation elements that can be hidden on article pages. Also included in the app’s update is the magazine’s Sexes section, which “explores how the changing balance of power between men and women is transforming society.” Subscribers get free digital magazine access, of course, but the price for a single issue has gone up for non-subscribers: it’s now $7 for a single digital issue, instead of $5.

Mix: Segall on ads, Gassée on iPad Pro, Richard on Apple

Ken Segall, former ad agency creative director for NeXT and Apple, argues that Samsung’s recent advertising blitz has been effective against Apple. Segall writes that Samsung has spent “a fortune to run its ads,” and that “Samsung’s message has proven to be tremendously potent” — ads that allude to negative perceptions with Apple have been “scoring points.” Apple has lost momentum and needs to recalibrate, according to Segall, who compares the situation to Barack Obama after his first debate with Mitt Romney. “(Apple) deeply believes in its ideas; it just need to express them more forcefully,” he writes.

Jean-Louis Gassée, one-time head of Apple’s Products Division before the return of Steve Jobs, writes that a side effect of the iPad’s success is that it “ignores the needs of people who want to perform ‘complicated’ tasks on their iPads.” Gassée suggests that the iPad could have two user interfaces and two modes: an “easy mode” — such as the current setup that hides the iOS file system from users — and a “pro mode” for more demanding users who wish to use the iPad in more in-depth ways. He points to the proliferation of keyboards for the device and the iPad’s penetration among Fortune 500 companies as signs that more people wish to use the iPad for heavier work and creation, not just consumption, though he also notes that balancing the needs of multiple audiences will prove tricky.

Apple has become somewhat easier to deal with under Tim Cook, according to France Telecom-Orange CEO Stéphane Richard. Richard said that “Apple has (become) more flexible, paying more attention to everyone else, probably a little less arrogant than they used to be,” All Things D reports. “I think they are probably a little more under pressure, and it is quite nice,” he said.

Intel expands chip foundry business, could supply Apple

  • February 26, 2013
  • Apple,

Intel has agreed to manufacture chips for Altera, indicating that the company could make its manufacturing technology available to other large customers, such as Apple. A new report details the significance of chip designer and manufacturer Intel working with Altera, a larger company, demonstrating Intel’s willingness to serve solely as a manufacturing factory for top-tier customers. Rather than buying off-the-shelf processors for its iOS devices, Apple increasingly designs its own chips and has them manufactured by partners. With Intel’s PC business on the decline, the company could offset costs by sharing manufacturing plants. Sunit Rikhi, Vice President and General Manager of Intel custom foundry, declined to mention Apple, but noted that “If and when we are called upon to serve large mobile customers who can drive a lot more volume, we could serve them today in terms of capability.” [via Reuters]

Staples now selling Apple products online in U.S.

  • February 26, 2013
  • Apple,

Following up on earlier reports, Staples is now selling Apple accessories in its U.S. online store. Currently, accessories for iPad, Mac, iPhone and iPod are available, including Smart Covers, power adapters, and headphones. Staples employees recently tweeted the store would be selling Apple products; notably, the Apple TV, which was revealed in a mock-up page in January, is currently listed as “currently out of stock” on the site. [via MacRumors]

Report: Apple now rejecting cookie-tracking apps

Apple’s App Review Team is now rejecting apps that use cookie tracking, according to a report. Previously, developers could open Safari to read a cookie, identifying a user’s interaction with ads, but some developers have recently seen rejections for apps using the technique. It’s speculated that Apple is rejecting these apps to increase use of its own Advertising Identifier technology. As Apple notes in its iOS 6 settings, “In the future all apps will be required to use the Advertising Identifier.” Users can opt to limit ad tracking from the Advertising Identifier through advertising, in the About section of iOS 6 settings. [via TechCrunch]

Virgin Mobile now offering LTE in United States

Virgin Mobile has announced that it’s now offering 4G LTE service to United States-based customers, opening the possibility for the carrier to sell the iPhone 5 here. Known for its no-contract plans, Virgin already offers the iPhone 4/4S in the U.S., and sells the iPhone 5 in other countries, such as Canada and Australia. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple settles freemium kids’ app class action

Apple has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over freemium apps aimed at children—titles that could be downloaded for free, but offered in-app game purchases. As originally reported by Law360 (subscription link), Apple will offer a $5 iTunes credit for claims that a minor bought in-game items without knowledge or permission. If the in-game items cost more than $5, Apple will offer a matching iTunes credit, and if the charges exceeded $30, the user can claim a cash refund.

A group of parents first sued Apple in 2011 over the “bait apps” in question. An email notice will be sent to more than 23 million iTunes account holders “who made a ‘Game Currency’ purchase in one or more apps.” The settlement must receive preliminary approval from a federal judge before Apple can start accepting claims. [via GigaOM]

Developers already showing early iPad 5 cases

New photos of a case for the fifth-generation iPad show a smaller, narrower overall footprint than past generations of the full-sized iPad, corroborating our early reports on the upcoming device. While case makers sometimes make guesses on the design of a new device, it’s notable that this case matches leaked housing photos from an earlier part leak.

 

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The fifth-generation iPad case is quite clearly smaller than a fourth-generation iPad case, as seen in the comparison photos, matching our report that the next iPad will have a form factor closer to the iPad mini. Additional case comparisons are included below. [via 9to5Mac]

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