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iLounge launches Rumor + Speculation Roundups

Today, iLounge is introducing Rumor + Speculation Roundups — a new section of the site to keep readers updated on rumored Apple devices. Each page is designed to help readers quickly canvas all the major credible rumors and speculation concerning a specific upcoming Apple product, such as the iPhone 5S or fifth-generation iPad. While recent months have seen plenty of stories on expected Apple products, these pages will contain our editors’ insights as to what’s likely to be real, and what’s not. We’ll also update each of the pages as more information is released. Our first page is for the rumored low-cost iPhone, with more to follow each day this week.

Avid debuts Fast Track Solo, Duo iPad audio interfaces

Avid has announced the launch of Fast Track Solo ($179) and Fast Track Duo ($299), two new portable audio interfaces compatible with iPad. Both interfaces feature a metal chassis, a Bus-powered USB port, and the ability to capture two sources simultaneously at 24-bit, 48 kHz resolution.

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Fast Track Solo includes one mic preamp and one instrument input; Fast Track Duo includes two mic preamps/instrument inputs and two line inputs. Pro Tools Express software is included with both interfaces. Both Fast Track Solo and Duo are available now at Avid resellers and will be “available soon” at Avid’s website.

USPTO withdraws refusal of iPad mini trademark

The US Patent and Trademark Office has withdrawn its recent refusal to Apple’s trademark application for the term “iPad mini.” A suggested disclaimer within the USPTO’s new office action now notes “mini” cannot be claimed as an exclusive Apple term, and can only be used in conjunction with iPad. If, for some reason, Apple refuses to submit the disclaimer in its trademark application, the trademark could still be denied. [via MacRumors]

iLounge Weekly coming Monday, new giveaway for April

The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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In addition, remember to enter our new April giveaway, in which we’re working with Unu to give away ten Enerpak Vault Universal Battery Packs. Simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page to enter; the giveaway will end on April 30, 2013 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Incase debuts Meta Slider, Shock Slider iPhone 5 cases

Incase has introduced Meta Slider ($35) and Shock Slider ($50) cases for iPhone 5. The Slider has long been a mainstay of Incase’s lineup — the most recent Slider case was released for iPhone 5 last year. Meta Slider and Shock Slider are notable for expanding the design of the Slider case.

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Meta Slider, available in white/gray or black/slate, is a two piece design with a microsuede cradle. It has a hardshell with a molded rubberized frame and a raised bezel. Shock Slider, which comes in black or white/magenta, features a rubberized inner cover with PORON XRD lining that can be used as a standalone case. It can be paired with a hardshell outer case. Both Meta Slider and Shock Slider are now available.

Apple patent suit loss prompts iOS change

Apple’s loss to VirnetX for infringing VPN patents has caused the Cupertino company to change the way VPN On Demand connects in iOS. In a support article on Apple’s website, the VirnetX lawsuit is specifically mentioned as the reason VPN On Demand configured to “always” will now behave as if it was configured to “establish if needed.” This issue is unlikely to affect most iOS users directly; Apple notes it will “address this functionality with alternatives in a future software update.”

Apple “close” to deal for streaming iRadio

Apple is now close to signing deals that would pave the way for the company’s music streaming service, according to a new report. Sources claim Apple could reach agreements with Universal Music Group and Warner Music in the next week; a prior report indicated significant progress had been made in Apple’s dealings with the two record labels. While it’s believed the deals have Apple paying 6 cents per 100 songs streamed — half of what Pandora pays to record labels, and previously reported to be the main reason for delaying the service — the new report claims Apple’s service will offer additional revenue streams. Consumers will be able to buy a song they hear through iTunes, and a revenue share of new audio ads would also benefit labels. Sources say the streaming service will most closely resemble Pandora — it won’t offer on-demand listening, but “some unique features, such as the ability to jump back to the beginning of a song” may be included. By all indications, Apple is still prepping the service for a summer launch. [via CNET]

iPhone 5 available for pre-order at T-Mobile

T-Mobile has added the iPhone 5 to its site for pre-orders. The T-Mobile iPhone 5, which will have support for HD Voice, can be bought for a $100 down payment, with a corresponding $20 for 24 months payment plan. It can also be purchased in full for $580. The T-Mobile iPhone 5 is set to launch April 12. An option to purchase a T-Mobile iPhone 5 is not currently available in Apple’s online store, where AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are still the only carrier options. Starting April 12th, Apple retail shops as well as Apple’s online store will begin selling the new Advanced Wireless Services-enabled A1428 model of the iPhone 5, as noted by Engadget.

Apple patent filing reveals hybrid notebook/tablet

A newly published patent filing reveals possible Apple plans for a hybrid notebook/tablet computer, according to a report. The invention could involve a keyboard-laden base and removable display — two components that could communicate wirelessly. Also noted as a possibility is the ability to transfer power wirelessly, perhaps through coils or capacitive plates.

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In some embodiments of the patent filing, the removable display would incorporate touchscreen technology. Novel in the invention is a set of retracting magnetic connectors that would enable the screen to physically attach to the keyboard when necessary, while disappearing to make the screen a standalone tablet when not in use. It’s unclear whether the fruits of this concept would be a Mac, iPad, or something inbetween, but the images are disclaimed as merely illustrative of a design possibility. [via Patently Apple]

Report: iMessage encryption prevents federal surveillance

Apple’s iMessage uses encryption that prevents police surveillance, according to an internal Drug Enforcement Administration document allegedly seen by CNET. The document notes “it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices,” even with a court order, due to the secure end-to-end encryption. Apparently, the DEA realized full records of text messages from the target of an investigation couldn’t be captured due to the use of iMessage. Both the DEA and Apple declined comment.

Apple’s Campus 2 now costs estimated $5B

Apple’s Campus 2, the company’s currently in-progress corporate campus, has seen its costs swell to nearly $5 billion, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Budgeted for less than $3 billion in 2011, the building’s estimated cost now exceeds the amount being spent on the new World Trade Center complex in New York, as the article notes for purposes of comparison. Located in Cupertino, California, the four-story ring “spaceship” building will take up 2.8 million square feet within 176 acres of trees, with roads and parking mostly hidden away underground. In addition to the size and the scope of the project, details such as 40-foot panes of concave glass from Germany and specially fabricated ceilings are contributing to the high budget. When Campus 2 is completed, Apple events are likely to be held at an on-site auditorium, without the need to use space in San Francisco. The move-in date is now set for 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in February, a delay from 2015. Apple declined to comment on the report.

Incipio, LifeProof up ante with waterproof case warranties

Stepping beyond the physical protection offered with traditional waterproof cases, both Incipio and LifeProof have recently announced peace-of-mind augmentations in the form of waterproof warranty coverage. Notably, the companies are taking different approaches to offering waterproof warranties. LifeProof has introduced an optional Total Water Protection Program that will cover any of its iPhone or iPad cases, offering one year of protection for a registration fee of $10 for iPhone, or $20 for iPad. If the device is damaged by water while in the case, LifeProof will repair or replace it for $50 if it’s an iPhone, $75 if it’s an iPad.

Incipio, however, is selling its new Atlas iPhone 5 case with an included one-year, nontransferable water damage warranty at no extra charge. In cases of accidental water damage to a device, Incipio will repair or replace the device. Users can optionally extend their warranty coverage to two years for an additional fee. Atlas is available for pre-order and is estimated to ship in three to four weeks. For now, both programs are only available in the United States.

Apps: Djay 1.6.4, ShutterSnitch 2.9.6, SkyDrive 3.0 + Twitter 5.5

Algoriddim’s djay for iPhone app ($1) — our 2012 pick for iPhone/iPad App of the Year — has updated to version 1.6.4 with an array of new upgrades. Most notably, the app has added Audiobus support, allowing users to stream live audio to any other Audiobus-compatible apps. The app now pauses automatically when headphones are disconnected or the audio is docked. There are a number of other tweaks, including improved handling of iOS audio system errors and caching, and the app fixes earlier issues with audio distortion, audio controls, and crashes.

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Well-respected as an alternative to Eye-Fi’s photo-grabbing app for iOS devices, ShutterSnitch ($16) from 2ndNature has added a number of updates since we last checked in on the app. Now on version 2.9.6, ShutterSnitch now offers dramatically wider support for different types of wireless camera accessories, including not only Eye-Fi cards but also Transcend Wi-Fi cards, Toshiba FlashAir cards, PQI cards, and official Canon and Nikon PTP/IP transmitters. The app also includes proper iPhone 5 support, and various usability tweaks.

iOS 7 running late; iPad event possibly April?

In a Branch thread stemming from discussion of an iPhone production report, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber wrote that he’s heard that iOS 7 is “running behind,” and engineers have been moved off OS X 10.9 to work on the newest iOS. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected to ship iOS 7 “around midyear.” An overhaul of the user interface is expected, courtesy of Jonathan Ive’s involvement. Gruber also mentioned that he’d heard nothing regarding a new event, but speculated that Apple could introduce the fifth-generation iPad this month. In the absence of typical pre-announcement signs such as leaks that production is underway, the date for the next iPad’s unveiling has remained ambiguous, with forecasts ranging from April to October of this year.

Apple sued for EarPods trademark infringement

Apple has been sued for infringing on a trademark with its EarPods headphones. Randolph Divisions, makers of the HearPod digital hearing aid, have filed suit against Apple in Honolulu court. Randolph Divisions registerd the “HearPod” trademark in 2007. Apple’s EarPods with Remote and Mic first shipped in early September of last year. [via The Next Web]

Apps: Creatorverse 1.2, Final Fantasy V, Square Wallet 2.5.1 + Vonage Mobile 2.0

Creatorverse (free), the inventive, open-ended game app from Linden Research, has become free after updating to version 1.2. The app is optimized for iPad, and includes basic creation tools that allow users to invent complex objects such as basic machines, then set their inventions in motion with a physics engine. Using joints, teleporters, motors, and other forces, users can create whatever inventions they can think up, then watch them go. Advanced creation tools can be added via in-app purchasing.

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Square Enix’s classic RPG Final Fantasy V ($16) has made its way to iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Originally released in 1992 for Nintendo’s Japanese Super Famicom system—with a U.S. release for the Super NES notably cancelled—the iOS port uses touch-screen controls and an active-time battle system that are “optimized for fluid combat on mobile devices.” Veteran character designer Kazuko Shibuya has returned to recreate the characters and graphics for the iOS port, which is based upon a later re-release of the game for the Game Boy Advance. The game also features “The Sealed Temple” from the 2006 release, in addition to the optional boss Enuo.

T-Mobile to enable LTE for unlocked iPhones April 5

Following its joint announcement with Apple regarding official support for iPhones, T-Mobile will be sending out a carrier software update on April 5 to enable unlocked original iPhone 5 units to access T-Mobile’s LTE network, as well as previously authorized carrier-limited features such as Visual Voicemail. A report notes that the update will go out this Friday to all iPhone devices on the T-Mobile network using iOS 6.1.x or higher; carrier settings can be delivered to iPhone users without the need for a full iOS update. T-Mobile and Apple will launch a new version of the iPhone 5 hardware on April 12 with broader network compatibility than the current model. [via TmoNews]

Update: T-Mobile has released the carrier software update today, as expected. [via TmoNews]

WSJ: New iPhone production to start in Q2

Apple plans to start production of a new iPhone in this year’s second quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal confirms that the new iPhone—likely the iPhone 5S—is “similar in size and shape to its current (iPhone).” A summer launch is noted as possible, which would match our January report that an upgraded iPhone is planned for July.

The same WSJ article notes that Apple is working on a less expensive iPhone “that could be launched as soon as the second half of this year.” Apple has allegedly been working on different color shells for the device.

China, state-controlled media praise Apple’s apology

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s apology and warranty improvements for Chinese customers has earned praise from China’s state-controlled media. Although it was recently criticized by the Chinese media in what appeared to be a coordinated campaign, Apple is now “worth respect compared with other American companies,” according to the Global Times, a Communist Party tabloid. China’s Foreign Ministry also praised Apple. “We approve of what Apple did,” spokesman Hong Lei said. [via Reuters]

Claim for Apple’s ‘rubber-banding’ patent still invalid

A key claim in Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent — the patent that gives graphics a bounce back effect when scrolling — has been ruled invalid in a “Final Office Action” by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a court filing by Samsung revealed. While the action is “final,” Apple can still appeal the decision to a trial and appeal board, a process that could take years. The uncertain status of the patent could impact Apple and Samsung’s continuing battles in court. [via FOSS Patents]

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