Apple has released iTunes 10.5.3, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to the release notes of Apple’s new iTunes U app, iTunes 10.5.3 is required to sync content with the new application; it is unknown what other features or improvements may have been added in the update. iTunes 10.5.3 is available now as a free download from apple.com/itunes and should be available via the company’s Software Update utility later today.
Update: Apple’s release notes for iTunes 10.5.3 read as follows: “iTunes 10.5.3 allows you to sync interactive iBooks textbooks to your iPad. These Multi-Touch textbooks are available for purchase from the iTunes Store on your Mac or from the iBookstore included with iBooks 2 on your iPad. iBooks textbooks are created with iBooks Author — now available as a free download on the Mac App Store.”
At today’s education event, Apple also announced an overhaul of its iTunes U service with the debut of a new iTunes U application for the iPad. Designed to provide a new and more interactive way of accessing the previously podcast-based iTunes U curriculum, the new application allows users to not only download course material but also interact with teachers and professors by providing access to assignments, updates, course notes, lectures and presentations. The app also provides integration with iBooks based textbooks allowing users to consolidate notes and highlights from their texts into the iTunes U app for easy review. Teachers and instructors can use iTunes U to layout out course syllabi, customizing topics, delivering content and lectures integrated with iBooks textbooks and providing additional information such as course notes, reading lists, office hours and more. iTunes U is available from the App Store as a free download and is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later.
During Apple’s education event today, the company announced a new Textbook section coming to the U.S. iBookstore to showcase a new collection of interactive textbooks that will be supported by iBooks 2. In addition, Apple has partnered with three leading textbook companies that are collectively responsible for publishing 90% of textbooks including McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson. Apple has also published a new, free iBooks Author tool for Mac OS X that will enable any publisher or end user to easily create enhanced interactive textbooks to be used on the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch with the iBooks app. The new iBooks based textbooks are expected to transform the traditional learning experience by providing enhanced electronic textbooks that include rich multimedia and interactive features such as video, study cards, built-in quiz and review questions and more. Current textbooks on the iBookstore are priced at around $15 and range in size from around 800MB to about 3GB.
During Apple’s education event today in New York City, the company announced the imminent release of iBooks 2, supporting a new variety of interactive book features focused primarily on education. Promising to deliver a “new textbook experience” for the iPad and other iOS devices, the new version will support books providing enhanced graphical and interactive features such as study cards, embedded quizzes and enhanced note-taking and highlighting capabilities. iBooks 2 is now available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple’s Big Apple-themed education announcement media event will begin in less than one hour, at 10:00 AM Eastern Time. While no Apple announcement is a “sure thing” prior to the company’s events, reports from the past few days have indicated that the bulk of Apple’s announcement will focus on digital textbooks, with an emphasis on the K-12 market. In addition to potential partnerships with publishers, it has also been suggested that Apple will unveil its own software that will make it easier for anyone with the desire to create interactive, multimedia textbooks which can then be made available for download via iBooks. We’ll be providing live updates of the event as it happens, so check back here at 10!
9:50 - 10 minutes before the start of the event, attendees are allowed in to take seats.
9:55 - The event is taking place in the Guggenheim Museum’s basement auditorium.
9:56 - Despite the subterranean venue, the stage has the typical lighting and look of a Cupertino-style Apple event.
9:58 - Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller takes the stage, starting the event early - atypical of Apple.
Apple’s education event, scheduled for tomorrow in New York City, will focus on broadening the education content available for the iPad, with an emphasis on the K-12 market, according to a new report. Citing two people with knowledge of the announcement, Bloomberg reports that Apple will announce a set of tools to make it easier to publish interactive textbooks and other digital educational content. In addition to making more content available, Apple also hopes to empower “self-publishers” to create new kinds of teaching tools, likely based on a modified version of the ePub standard. A report form earlier this week suggested that Apple would adopt the ePub 3 standard in such a tool, allowing for easier creation of interactive, multimedia-rich content.
Apple has been working with McGraw-Hill and potentially other publishers on a digital interactive textbook initiative that it is expected to launch at its special event on Thursday, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that McGraw-Hill has been working with Apple on the announcement since June, and may have been joined in participation by Pearson and Houghton Mifflin. Cengage Learning, a leader in higher-education textbooks, has partnered with Apple in the past and will also be attending the event. “Apple today clearly has a strong position in hardware, and companies like Cengage Learning have a very strong position on the content side,” said Bill Rieders, Cengage executive vice president of global strategy and business development. “To the extent there’s a combination there, that could be exciting.”
In a separate report, Ars Technica also suggests that Apple is working on digital textbooks, but instead suggests that Apple will announce support for the more robust ePub 3 standard in iBooks moving forward, as well as a new tool for creating ePub 3- compliant e-books. Referring to the tool as “GarageBand for e-books”, the report cites former Apple education employee and current CEO of digital textbook house Inkling Matt MacInnis as expecting such a tool. “That’s what we believe you’re about to see,” MacInnis told Ars, a statement that was agreeable to the report’s other sources. “Publishing something to ePub is very similar to publishing web content. Remember iWeb? That iWeb code didn’t just get flushed down the toilet—I think you’ll see some of [that code] repurposed.” Late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs was known to have been involved with the initiative, and according to the report worked on this project for several years.
Expanding the ongoing legal battle between the two companies, Apple has filed another suit against Samsung in Germany. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is seeking to ban sales of 10 Samsung smartphone models, including the Galaxy S Plus and the Galaxy S II. The suit was filed in the Dusseldorf Regional Court and is based on Apple design rights in Europe, court spokesman Peter Schuetz said, adding that Apple has also started a separate suit against five Samsung tablet models related to a September ruling banning the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The two companies are currently involved in a number of suits against one another worldwide.
Apple has officially launched its iTunes Match online music service in the Netherlands. Launched in the U.S. in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. As noted by Mac Rumors, Dutch collecting society Buma/Stemra announced last week that it had reached a deal with Apple for iTunes Match; links to the service have yet to appear on the Dutch iTunes Store, but Apple has updated its terms and conditions with new text covering the service, and the direct link to the iTunes Match page is now working.
Update: According to AppleInsider, iTunes Match has also launched in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Latvia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.
An administrative law judge with the International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued an initial ruling in Apple’s patent suit against Motorola, ruling that the latter did not violate Apple’s patents. Ars Technica reports that Motorola was ruled to have not infringed any of the three smartphone-related patents upon which Apple built its case; however, the ruling is still subject to review by a six-person ITC panel. Apple and Motorola have been involved in a series of lawsuits against one other since October 2010, when Motorola Mobility filed a series of suits against Apple, leading to a countersuit from the Mac-maker; Google acquired Motorola Mobility last August, complicating the various disputes.
Apple today released its 2012 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report (PDF Link) as part of its ongoing efforts to provide acceptable working conditions for those that are involved in building its products. The report itself includes data from 221 audits of Apple’s overseas suppliers, and was accompanied by a list of 156 suppliers (PDF Link) that represent 97 percent of the company’s supply chain, the first time the company has offered such as list. In addition, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) as a Participating Member. According to a FLA press release, the group will “independently assess facilities in Apple’s supply chain and report detailed findings on the FLA website”; Apple is the first technology company to join the Association as a Participating Company. In an email to his employees that was subsequently published by French-language MacGeneration, CEO Tim Cook discussed the moves:
We’ve just released our sixth annual update on conditions in Apple’s supply chain, and I want to personally share some of the results with you.
We insist that our manufacturing partners follow Apple’s strict code of conduct, and to make sure they do, the Supplier Responsibility team led more than 200 audits at facilities throughout our supply chain last year. These audits make sure that working conditions are safe and just, and if a manufacturer won’t live up to our standards, we stop working with them.
Thanks to our supplier responsibility program, we’ve seen dramatic improvements in hiring practices by our suppliers. To prevent the use of underage labor, our team interviews workers, checks employment records and audits the age verification systems our suppliers use. These efforts have been very successful and, as a result, cases of underage labor were down sharply from last year. We found no underage workers at our final assembly suppliers, and we will not rest until the number is zero everywhere.
We’ve also used our influence to substantially improve living conditions for the people who make our products. Apple set a new standard for suppliers who offer employee housing, to ensure that dormitories are comfortable and safe. To meet our requirements, many suppliers have renovated their dorms or built new ones altogether.
Finding and correcting problems is not enough. Our team has built an ambitious training program to educate workers about Apple’s code of conduct, workers’ rights, and occupational health and safety. More than one million people know about these rights because they went to work for an Apple supplier. Additionally, Apple offers continuing education programs free of charge at many manufacturing sites in China. More than 60,000 workers have enrolled in classes to learn business, entrepreneurial skills or English.
Finally, we are taking a big step today toward greater transparency and independent oversight of our supply chain by joining the Fair Labor Association. The FLA is a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving conditions for workers around the world, and we are the first technology company they’ve approved for membership. The FLA’s auditing team will have direct access to our supply chain and they will report their findings independently on their website.
No one in our industry is driving improvements for workers the way Apple is today. I encourage you to take some time to read more about these efforts, so that you can be as proud of Apple’s contributions in this area as I am.” [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has scheduled a “Big Apple”-themed “education announcement” media event in New York City for January 19, 2012, sending out a digital invitation featuring a chalkboard image of the Manhattan skyline with an Apple logo in the middle of skyscrapers.
The event is expected to focus on iTunes, the iBookstore, and possibly textbook sales in the iTunes Store.
Apple this morning seeded its registered iOS developers with the third beta version of iOS 5.1. According to Apple’s sparse release notes state simply that the release contains “bug fixes and improvements”. The update is currently available as an OTA Software Update for devices already running iOS 5.1 beta 2, and will likely be available shortly to registered iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
New code found within iOS 5.1 suggests that Apple is currently working on iOS devices with quad-core chips. According to 9to5Mac, iOS 5.1 includes updated processing-core management software that makes references to an option of “/cores/cores.3”, which according to people with knowledge of iOS’ inner workings, refers to a four-core chip, as “cores.0” refers to a single-core device, and “cores.1” to a dual-core chip. As noted in the report, the presence of this reference in iOS 5.1 suggests that the next-generation iPad, which is likely being tested using the software, will feature a quad-core processor. iLounge’s Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz, citing a reported yesterday that the device is likely to be launched around the same time as the iPad 2 was a year ago; the iPad 2 was launched on March 11.
Apple is planning to open store-within-a-store outlets inside select Target locations later this year, according to a new report. Citing a source familiar with Apple’s plans, AppleInsider reports that the Apple-branded areas will be located inside 25 larger Target stores, in locations that can’t support a standalone Apple Store. Apple already operates store-within-a-store outlets in over 600 Best Buy locations, some of which are staffed with Apple Solution Consultants. It is unclear whether Apple would use similar staffing for the Target outlets, but in any case the concept would likely allow those stores to offer a wider range of Apple products, including Macs and AirPort wireless routers, among other products.
Elan Microelectronics has said that Apple will pay the company $5 million as part of a settlement in a patent infringement case. Reuters reports that according to Elan’s statement, the two companies will also exchange authorizations to use each other’s patents. Elan sued Apple in the U.S. in 2009 over two patents related to multi-touch technology, leading to a countersuit from Apple later that year.
Apple has hired Adobe executive Todd Teresi to run its iAds division, according to a recent tweet from Adam Satariano of Bloomberg. Since the departure of Apple’s VP of Mobile Advertising, Andy Miller, last summer, iAds was being overseen by Eddie Cue while the company searched for a replacement. Todd Teresi’s LinkedIn profile identifies him as VP and General Manager of Media Solutions for Adobe Systems, a position that he has held since May 2011. Prior to joining Adobe, Teresi also previously served as Chief Revenue Officer for Quantcast and Senior Vice President at Yahoo prior to that. [via Business Insider]
The Daily Mail reports that Apple may be bidding for the rights to stream English Premier League football matches. The English Premier League is the top football league in the U.K. and is one of the most popular football leagues worldwide, managing competition rules and centralized broadcasting and commercial rights for its 20 member football clubs. Apple has previously provided premium content streaming for MLB, NBA and NHL for Apple TV users in the U.S. and Canada, integrating these services directly into the Apple TV as part of recent software updates and simply tying into the providers’ existing subscription services. Unlike the other sports organizations, however, EPL does not currently provide its own iOS streaming application or online subscription service, causing some speculation that Apple may offer EPL streaming as part of an iTunes-based subscription service. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has announced that it will report its results for the first fiscal quarter of 2012 on Tuesday, January 24. The release will be followed by the usual conference call to discuss the financial results, which will begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. iLounge will be providing coverage of the call. The call will likely discuss the results from the holiday quarter which saw the expanded launch of the iPhone 4S internationally and based on industry estimates is expected to include record iPhone and iPad sales. Depending on the timing the call may also provide some clues as to Apple’s next-generation iPad and iPhone product launches as well as its rumoured plans for iBooks.
Apple today announced that it will officially launch the iPhone 4S in China on January 13. “Customer response to our products in China has been off the charts,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With the launch in China next week, iPhone 4S will be available in over 90 countries making this our fastest iPhone rollout ever.” In addition to China, the company will also launch the handset in 21 additional countries, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guam, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and Uganda.