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Apple announces third-generation iPad with Retina display

Apple today announced its third-generation iPad. As expected, the third-generation tablet features a 2048 x 1536 “Retina” display—for a total of 3.1 million pixels—and is powered by the new dual-core A5X processor with a quad-core graphics processor. According to the company, the new processor was “designed for Retina display”, and offers “four times the performance” of the Tegra 3 processor. Also new is a five-megapixel, backside-illuminated rear “iSight” camera sensor, with an IR filter, autofocus and auto white balance, face detection, 1080p video recording, and automatic video stabilization. Other new features include voice dictation, with support for US, British, and Australian English, French, German, and Japanese, 4G LTE networking, 10 hours of battery life, and a body that is slightly heavier at 1.4 lbs., and—as first reported by iLounge—slightly thicker at 9.4mm, compared to 8.8mm for the previous model.

Models equipped with wireless data now support 3.1 Mbps over EV-DO, 7.2 Mbps over HSPA, 21 Mbps on HSPA+, 42 Mbps over DC-HSDPA, and 73 Mbps over LTE networks; the latter will be supported at launch by Verizon, Rogers, Bell, Telus, and AT&T. Thanks to its faster internet connection, the iPad can now serve as a personal hotspot if the carrier supports it. The new iPad will keep the same pricing and capacities as previous models, with Wi-Fi-only units running $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for 64GB; 4G-capable units will cost $629, $729, and $829, respectively. Apple will begin taking pre-orders for the device today, with units shipping on March 16 in the United States, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. More international rollouts will follow on March 23 in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Siri coming to Japan

During Apple’s iPad event today the company announced that it would officially be rolling out Siri to users in Japan as part of its iOS 5.1 update. Siri is expected to be available in Japan “over the next few weeks.”

Apple adds Movies to iTunes in the Cloud

During it’s iPad event today in San Francisco, Apple announced the expansion of its iTunes in the Cloud service to include Movies from the iTunes Store. Originally launched last June, iTunes in the Cloud allows iTunes users to re-download previously purchased music, books, apps and TV shows to their iTunes library or any iOS device. The service was initially released in the U.S. and later expanded to several other countries late last year, initially for music and later for TV shows as well. The second-generation Apple TV received the ability to stream TV shows from iTunes in the Cloud last summer; although it is not clear whether support for Movies will be included in a coming Apple TV software update or will be exclusive to the third-generation Apple TV also announced today. Apple has also not yet been announced in which countries Movies will be available from iTunes in the Cloud.

Update: The feature has now been activated for U.S. iTunes Store accounts, allowing users to re-download previously purchased movies from the Purchases section of the iTunes Store.

Apple rolls out third-generation Apple TV

During this morning’s special media event, Apple announced its third-generation Apple TV. While retaining the design of the prior model, the new Apple TV offers support for 1080p video output, and also offers a redesigned user interface with larger, app-like buttons for accessing content, and a single-core variant of the A5 processor. As part of the new 1080p support, Apple is updating its TV show and movie offerings with higher-resolution copies, and is also rolling out iTunes in the Cloud support for movies, giving the new Apple TV access to 1080p content stored online, instead of on a local computer. The third-generation Apple TV also retains the $99 price point of its predecessor, and is available for pre-order today with units shipping March 16.

Apple offering settlements to Motorola, Samsung

Apple has proposed settlements to both Motorola Mobility and Samsung in an effort to end some pending litigation, Dow Jones Newswires reports. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report claims that Apple has asked for roughly 1 percent to 2.5 percent of net sales per device, or between $5 and $15 per handset. One person said that Apple isn’t looking to offer patent licenses to all competitors, nor is it seeking to create a royalty business. The report also suggests that Apple may be using its own patents as bargaining chips to reduce any penalties it might face as a result of negative court rulings related to standards-essential patents held by the two companies.

App Store reaches 25 billion downloads

Apple has announced that over 25 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store. According to the release, the downloads account for the usage of over 315 million iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners worldwide. The 25 billionth app downloaded Where’s My Water? Free, was downloaded by Chunli Fu of Qingdao, China. As the winner of the App Store Countdown to 25 Billion Apps, Chunli Fu will receive a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card. The release also states that the App Store now offers over 550,000 apps, with 170,000 of those being native to the iPad.

“We’d like to thank our customers and developers for helping us achieve this historic milestone of 25 billion apps downloaded,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “When we launched the App Store less than four years ago, we never imagined that mobile apps would become the phenomenon they have, or that developers would create such an incredible selection of apps for iOS users.”

Apple Store app adds iPhone plans, brings EasyPay to the Netherlands

Apple has updated the Apple Store iPhone app adding new account management editing and billing options and the ability for U.S. customers to purchase an iPhone with a plan from any of the three U.S. carriers. The latest version is now also available in the Netherlands along with Apple’s in-store EasyPay feature—the first release of this feature to Apple Stores outside of the U.S.

Originally launched in 2010, the Apple Store app allows iPhone users to research and purchase products from the online Apple Store or reserve products at any U.S. Apple Store for local pickup. The app also provides features for requesting help and making Genius Bar and One to One reservations at an Apple Store. Users in the U.S.—and now the Netherlands—can also take advantage of EasyPay, a feature introduced last fall that allows purchases to be made in an Apple Retail Store with an iPhone 4/4S by scanning the barcode with the camera and completing the transaction directly within the app. Apple Store 2.1 requires iOS 4.3.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple, Google sued over iOS Maps’ Street View

Apple and Google have been sued by Florida-based PanoMap over the iOS’ implementation of Google Maps’ Street View feature. PaidContent reports that the complaint, filed in federal court in Orlando, claims that implementation violates a PanoMap patent related to an “Interactive system for displaying detailed view and direction in panoramic images”. The suit seeks damages with interest from both parties, as well as attorney fees and costs.

From the patent abstract: “A method and system for indicating the camera position, direction, and field of view in a map or panoramic image comprises a map image window which displays a map or panoramic image of the site to be studied (house, apartment, city, etc.). A detailed view window displays a portion of the map image, taken from a point in the site. A highlighted sector in the map image represents the viewing position, direction, and field of view that the detailed view window displays. When the user changes the field of view in the detailed view window, the highlighted sector in the map image changes in synchronism. The resulting interactive windows allow a person to easily and quickly view and understand the field of view, position, and direction of the image being displayed in the detail view window.” [via TUAW]

Apple confirms iPad 3 event for March 7

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As expected, Apple has sent out invitations to select members of the media inviting them to a special event on March 7. The image accompanying the invitation features a finger reaching out to touch the Calendar icon on a noticeably high-resolution iPad screen, and the tagline “We have something you really have to see. And touch”. Notably, no Home button is seen on the device, although it may simply be rotated to the side. Apple is expected to unveil the third-geneartion iPad at the event; the device is expected to feature a Retina Display with four times the pixels, as well as 4G LTE connectivity and a new chipset, all in an almost unnoticeably thicker shell that we first saw at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. The event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco and will start at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Apple working on A6, A5X chips simultaneously?

Citing code found in a beta version of iOS 5.1, a new report claims that Apple is simultaneously developing its next-generation A6 processor, as well as an “A5X” variant of the A5 processor that currently powers the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. 9to5Mac reports that the code makes reference to both an “S5L8950X” chip—said to be the A6—and an “S5L8945X” chip, which is said to be the A5X. For reference, the original A4 was referred to as “S5L8930X”, and the A5 “S5L8940X”. A later report from the same outlet suggests that the A5X will find its way into the next-generation Apple TV, while the A6 will power the next-generation iPad.

Apple developing adaptive streaming audio format

Apple is working on a new audio file format that would allow it to deliver high- or low-quality files to iCloud users based on bandwidth. Citing a source with inside knowledge of the process, the Guardian reports that the new system would adjust itself to the bandwidth and storage available on the receiving device, and would be used to enhance the company’s iTunes Match service. According to the report, Apple has already asked a London studio to prepare audio files for the new streaming format. “All of a sudden, all your audio from iTunes is in HD rather than AAC. Users wouldn’t have to touch a thing – their library will improve in an instant,” said the source. Apple has recently been encouraging submission of audio files in the 24-bit/96KHz standard, and has also released a set of guidelines for mastering to iTunes which hint at a such a possible future service: “As technology advances and bandwidth, storage, battery life, and processor power increase, keeping the highest quality masters available in our systems allows for full advantage of future improvements to your music. These masters matter – especially given the move into the cloud on post-PC devices.”

Apple airs new iPhone 4S ad ‘iCloud Harmony’

Last night during the Oscars, Apple aired its latest TV advertisement for the iPhone 4S. Entitled “iCloud Harmony”, the 30-second spot focuses on how iCloud can automatically sync purchased music, photos, apps, contacts and documents across a user’s devices, including the iPad and the Mac, before finishing with the slogan “Automatic. Everywhere. iCloud.” and the iPhone 4S logo. The commercial is available for viewing on YouTube via the above link or in embedded form below.

Apple now selling domestically-made iPhone in Brazil

Apple is now selling the Brazilian-made 8GB iPhone 4 through its online store in the country. Mac Rumors points to a post by Meio Bit (Translated Link) confirming the news via a photo of the information listed on the back of the box. The new Made in Brazil units carry the model numbers MD128BR/A and MD198BR/A for the black and white iPhone 4, respectively; no evidence of Brazilian-made iPhone 4S units has yet surfaced. The report notes that despite the relocation of manufacturing, pricing for the iPhone 4 remains the same.

Apple suspends iCloud push email in Germany

Apple has temporarily suspended push email service for iCloud and MobileMe users in Germany due to its ongoing legal battle with Motorola Mobility. A newly published Apple support document on the subject reads, “iCloud and MobileMe users are currently unable to have iCloud and MobileMe email pushed to their iOS devices while located within the borders of Germany”. It continues, “Affected customers will still receive iCloud and MobileMe email, but new messages will be downloaded to their devices when the Mail app is opened, or when their device periodically fetches new messages as configured in iOS Settings. Push email service on desktop computers, laptop computers, and the web is unaffected, as is service from other providers such as Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. Apple believes Motorola’s patent is invalid and is appealing the decision.” No timeline was given for possible reactivation of the service. [via Engadget]

Apple acquires app search service Chomp

Apple has acquired the app search and discovery service Chomp, according to a pair of reports. TechCrunch reports that Chomp’s technology will be used to completely revamp App Store search and recommendations. The report notes that Chomp received seed funding in 2009 and eventually grew to include both iOS and Android apps. The company currently has a deal with Verizon to power all of their Android-based app searches, which is likely to end as soon as the Chomp team and product finishes its transition to Apple. 9to5Mac adds that Chomp CEO Ben Keighran and CTO Cathy Edwards are already working at Apple, with Keighran working on the iTunes marketing team, and Edwards serving as a senior iTunes engineer. The price of the deal is currently unknown.

Apple, others sign on for CA app privacy agreement

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced today that Apple, along with Amazon, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Research In Motion have agreed to privacy principles designed to bring their various mobile app stores in line with California law. According to the announcement, the agreement aims to ensure that mobile apps that collect personal information have a privacy policy, something not currently required of apps submitted to the App Store. Under the agreement, users will be able to view an app’s privacy policy prior to downloading the app; no timeline was given for implementation of the new principles.

“Your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is,” said Attorney General Harris. “This agreement strengthens the privacy protections of California consumers and of millions of people around the globe who use mobile apps. By ensuring that mobile apps have privacy policies, we create more transparency and give mobile users more informed control over who accesses their personal information and how it is used.”

Apple confirms Oregon data center plans

Apple has confirmed its purchase of land in Prineville, Oregon, on which it plans to build a new data center. Citing Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet, KTVZ.com reports that Apple will build the facility on a 160-acre parcel it purchased from Crook County for $5.6 million. Knowledge of Apple’s potential plans for the site dates back to last December, when The Oregonian reported that the company was considering purchasing the land, which is less than a mile away from a large data center run by Facebook and another sizable facility run by Google.

Apple to allow environmental audits of suppliers

Apple will soon allow independent environmental reviews of at least two of its suppliers’ factories in China, according to a new report. Citing Ma Jun, founder of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, USA Today reports that Apple agreed to the reviews in late January, following the release of reports documenting hazardous-waste leaks and the use of toxic chemicals at suspected Apple suppliers. The reviews could begin as soon as March, and may expand to include more than just two factories.

Apple launches countdown to 25 billion app downloads

Apple has posted a new contest celebrating the download of the 25 billionth app. As the company has with past countdown contests, it has posted a counter roughly showing the number of apps downloaded to this point on the contest page; similar graphics have yet to appear on the main iTunes Store or App Store, but will likely appear later today. “As of today, nearly 25 billion apps have been downloaded worldwide”, reads the contest page. “Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 25 billionth app, and you could win a US$10,000 App Store Gift Card. Just visit the App Store and download your best app yet.” The contest will end once the 25 billionth app has been downloaded; no purchase or download is necessary to enter.

Apple wins injunction against Motorola in Germany

Apple has won a permanent injunction against most of Motorola Mobility’s products in Germany. FOSS Patents reports that Presiding Judge Dr. Peter Guntz ruled that the products infringe on Apple’s slide-to-unlock image patent, which covers “unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image”. According to the report, the court evaluated three different embodiments of the idea, two of which are implemented on Motorola’s phones—Apple won on those two—and a third which is used on Motorola’s Xoom tablet, and on which Apple did not prevail. The report states that Motorola will likely appeal the decision, at which point Apple will likely try to win on the third embodiment as well; currently, Apple would have to enforce the injunction at its own risk, by posting a bond that could be used to repay damages should the decision be reversed.

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