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Apple seeds iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2, adds iTunes Match to Apple TV

Apple seeded developers with iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 late last evening, and also added iTunes Match to the second-generation Apple TV under the new main menu option “Music.” According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 offers stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all subscribers to the iTunes Match beta. Apple had promised to launch iTunes Match by the end of October, but missed its self-imposed deadline earlier this week, and is evident by these new releases, is continuing to test the service ahead of its anticipated wide-scale rollout. iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 is available now as a free download from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple releases iOS 5.0.1 beta to developers, confirms iOS 5 battery issues

Apple has released iOS 5.0.1 to its registered iOS developers. According to the release notes, the new beta—listed as build 9A402—“fixes bugs affecting battery life, adds multitasking gestures for original iPad, resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud, improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation,” and “contains security improvements.” Notably, the update also “introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations,” seemingly addressing an issue recently brought to light by Instapaper developer Marco Arment. An Apple spokesperson confirmed that some iOS 5 users were experiencing battery life issues early today, telling The Loop, “A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices[.] We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.” iOS 5.0.1 beta for the iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch is available now as a download from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple taps retail exec Cano to replace Ron Johnson?

Apple has promoted its Senior Director of International Retail and former local store manager Steve Cano to replace outgoing executive Ron Johnson as Senior Vice President of Retail, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous source, Cult of Mac reports that Cano was previously tipped as a likely candidate to replace Johnson—who officially left Apple earlier this week to become CEO of J.C. Penney—by the Apple Retail Workers Union. As noted in the report, Cano got his start with Apple working as a store manager at the Palo Alto store—which happened to be then CEO Steve Jobs’ home store—and later moved to the SoHo store in New York, then went to manage the Ginza store in Tokyo, Japan. He was later appointed regional director as more stores were opened in Japan, and was later named Apple’s first Senior Director of International Retail, a position that saw him work out of a London office, overseeing a string a new stores in Europe. Apple has yet to confirm the report or add Cano to its online executive profiles.

Update: Cult of Mac has since updated its report to say that Apple has issued a statement saying Cano has not been named to Johnson’s former post. A company spokesperson said: “The search is underway with lots of interest and we are carefully selecting Ron’s successor. We have nothing to announce today.”

GarageBand adds iPhone + iPod touch support

Apple has released a free update to its highly acclaimed GarageBand music creation app adding universal device support. Chosen as iLounge’s 2011 App of the Year for iPad, GarageBand 1.1 can now be used on the iPhone and iPod touch and adds a number of other new features and enhancements including the ability to create custom chords for Smart Instruments, support for additional time signatures, the ability to transpose songs in semitones or full octaves and additional quantization options for recordings. Users can now also take advantage of additional export quality settings for AAC and uncompressed AIFF output and adjust velocity settings for Touch Instruments. The update also contains a number of other smaller enhancements including automatic fading, and arpeggiator control on the Smart Keyboard and improved audio import options. GarageBand 1.1 requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

iPhone 4S coming to Hong Kong, elsewhere on November 11

Apple today announced that it will launch the iPhone 4S in Hong Kong, South Korea, and 13 other countries on Friday, November 11, with pre-orders beginning this Friday, November 4. The complete list of countries also includes Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal,  and Romania; pre-orders will not be available in Albania, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro, and Panama. According to the announcement, the iPhone 4S is currently available in 29 countries and will be available in more than 70 by the end of the year.

Apple plans self-checkout via iOS app at retail stores

Apple plans to allow customers to check themselves out via the company’s retail store iOS app, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous source, Mac Rumors reports that the option will be available for purchases of accessories and other shelf-stocked items at the company’s stores, and that the purchases will be charged to the customer’s iTunes Store account. Although details of the post-purchase experience are vague, it is expected that customers would be able to show an emailed receipt to any employee as a proof-of-purchase upon leaving the store. The report notes that high-value items such as Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods are kept in the stockroom and will still require employee assistance for purchase, but that smaller items such as cases and cables will be available for purchase without the need for employee interaction. The report also claims that Apple is expected to update its online store to allow for single orders to be routed to multiple shipping addresses, allowing customers to make all holiday purchases in a single transaction, and have then shipped to different recipients.

Apple acquires 3D mapping company C3 Technologies

Apple has acquired 3D mapping company C3 Technologies as part of its ongoing effort to build an in-house mapping solution, according to a new report. Citing unnamed sources, 9to5Mac reports that Apple has purchased the company, and that C3 Technologies CEO Mattias Astrom, CFO Kjell Cederstrand, and Product Manager Ludvig Emgard are all now working within Apple’s iOS division. It is said that this leading trio, as well as most of the former C3 team, is still working together in Sweden—where the company was based prior to Apple’s purchase—under the division name “Sputnik”. Spun off from aerospace and defense company Saab AB in 2007, C3 specialized in creating high-quality, incredibly detailed photo-realistic 3D models of the real world, seamlessly integrating “traditional 2D maps, satellite images, street level photography and user generated images.” Prior mapping-related Apple acquisitions include mapping service Placebase and online 3D mapping firm Poly9; the report suggests that Apple may introduce a new mapping solution based in part on technology from all three companies in iOS 6.

Apple airs trio of new iPhone 4S ads

Over the weekend, Apple started to air three new television ads for the iPhone 4S. Entitled “Siri, Snow Today”, “iCloud”, and “Camera”, the ads focus on the iPhone 4S’ Siri virtual assistant feature, iCloud integration for iTunes purchases, documents, iBooks, and Photo Stream, and the advanced optics and on-board editing and sharing features of the iPhone 4S’ eight-megapixel camera, respectively. All three ads are available for viewing now on Apple’s website.

Apple makes Apple Lossless open source

Apple has released its Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) as an open-source project. Debuted in 2004, ALAC is “a data compression method which reduces the size of audio files with no loss of information.  A decoded ALAC stream is bit-for-bit identical to the original uncompressed audio file.” The project, released yesterday, contains the sources for the ALAC encoder and decoder, an example command line utility, and a description of a “magic cookie” for use based on the ISO case media file format. The Apple Lossless Audio Codec sources are available under the Apache license.

iAd Gallery adds Push Notifications

Apple has released an update to its iAd Gallery application adding support for Push Notifications. Described as a “celebration of advertising,” iAd Gallery is a free app that allows iOS device users to access and preview an on-demand collection of iAd campaigns running on Apple’s in-app advertising network. Users can browse through the complete list of campaigns, search by advertiser, category or iAd feature, learn more about the features ads and agencies behind them and create a list of their favourite iAds. Version 1.1 introduces support for Push Notifications for advising users when new iAd campaigns are available. iAd Gallery is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.

Apple launches iTunes movie offerings in new markets

Apple has launched new iTunes Store movie content in a number of new markets. Citing reader reports as well as iTunes Store checks, Mac Rumors reports that movies are now available in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia, with Romania strangely left out. According to the report, Apple has yet to add dedicated navigation bar tabs for movies in the new markets, but the content is showing up in search results.

Apple to reset iTunes Match libraries ahead of launch

Apple has sent out an email notice to registered iOS developers, informing them that the company will be deleting all iTunes Match libraries later today. “To continue to improve the overall quality and reliability of iTunes Match, we will be deleting all current iCloud libraries on Thursday, October 27,” the message reads. It also reminds users to turn off iTunes Match on all their computers and iOS devices ahead of the scheduled deletion. Announced in June at WWDC, iTunes Match is a $24.99/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. Apple said at its “Let’s talk iPhone” event that the service would be available at the “end of October.”

Apple plans solar farm for NC complex

Permits issued to Apple by Catawba County, North Carolina, have revealed that the company plans to build a solar farm across from its data center in Maiden, NC. The Charlotte Observer reports that the company has been approved to reshape the slope of some of the 171 arces it owns opposite its massive data center. Notably, the permits offer no details about the farm itself, including its exact size and position, and the county has yet to be asked to approve a building permit for the property. Citing the Hickory Daily Record, Mac Rumors adds that local residents have been upset by the smoke from fires set to help clear the land. Apple’s website touts the company’s commitment to using sustainable energy when possible, as its facilities in Austin, Texas, Sacramento, California, and Cork, Ireland, are 100 percent powered by renewable energy.

Apple awarded ‘slide to unlock’ patent

Apple has been awarded a patent for its iOS devices’ “slide to unlock” feature. BBC News reports that U.S. patent number 7657549 states, “A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device.” As noted in the report, the broad language of the patent would appear to cover not only Apple’s unlocking method, but those used by rival platforms, including Android and Windows Mobile. The patent was originally filed in June 2009, and lists Apple senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall as one of the seven inventors.

iTunes, iPod vet Robbin leading Apple’s HDTV team

Jeff Robbin, vice president of consumer applications at Apple and veteran of both the iTunes and iPod teams, is heading the company’s HDTV efforts, according to a new report. Citing three people with knowledge of the project, Bloomberg reports that although it it’s not guaranteed that Apple will release a television, if released, it would likely allow users to seamlessly search for a show or movie, integrating various sources such as Netflix, iTunes, and potentially even cable or satellite, removing the need to check separately for content across multiple sources. Late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he wanted to create an “integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” and that it “would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.” ‘“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs said. “I finally cracked it.” Robbin was a developer of SoundJam, the program which Apple purchased and subsequently hired him to turn in to iTunes. Apart from his work on the iTunes team, Robbin was also heavily involved in the development of the iPod.

Apple releases Apple TV software 4.4.2, may require reset

Apple has released Apple TV software 4.4.2, its latest update to the set-top box. Arriving on the heels of last week’s 4.4.1 update, which reportedly “bricked” some units and was pulled for some time, Apple has yet to detail what upgrades or enhancements 4.4.2 might bring with it, but does note in a Support document that Apple TV devices running software version 4.4 and 4.4.1 have an issue with updating software to later versions. According to the document, users may need to go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings before upgrading to 4.4.2, and notes that if you apply the update without resetting all settings first, the updater will do so for you. Once it has been reset, the unit can then be updated via the Update Software option in Settings. “We recognize that this is an inconvenience and apologize,” reads a statement at the end of the page. Apple TV software 4.4.2 is available now.

Apple plans to offer in-store pickup of online orders

Apple is preparing to roll out a new pilot program that will allow customers to pickup orders placed through the company’s online store at their local retail store, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, Mac Rumors reports that the program, known as Sherwood, will include any product available through the online store, including custom-configured Macs, engraved and gift-wrapped products, and a full range third-party accessories. The report claims that customers placing online orders will be offered the local pickup, and that standard configurations will generally be available for pickup the same day, while other items may take a few days to be delivered.

It is said that proof-of-purchase and an ID will be required for pickup, and that customers may designate one additional person as eligible to pickup the order, should they want to do so. Beyond order pickups, the report suggests that with the rollout, Apple’s retail stores will also begin accepting returns of eligible online orders. The program will reportedly be initially available through select retail stores only, with plans to expand it across the entire chain in the future.

Update: Apple has since launched the program in San Francisco on a pilot basis.

Jobs biography now available on iBookstore

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ official biography, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, is now available on the iBookstore and through other retailers. Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over the last two years of his life, as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, competitors, and contemporaries, the book spans Jobs’ entire life from his younger days growing up in Mountain View, CA, to his decision to step down as the CEO of Apple earlier this year. As expected, the book also holds several surprises, as Jobs spoke openly of his thoughts regarding competing products — Android in particular — and of the inner works at Apple; we’ve collected a few such anecdotes here. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is priced at $17.

Apple updates iPad Smart Cover lineup

Apple has updated its iPad Smart Cover lineup heading in to the holiday shopping season. According to the iPad Smart Cover product page on Apple’s online store, the company has nixed the orange polyurethane smart cover, replacing it with a dark gray model, and has also added a detail referring to “color-matched microfiber lining” on both models. Curiously, the company has yet to update its standard Smart Cover webpage, which still shows the orange version as part of the lineup. Apple’s iPad Smart Covers sell for $39 for polyurethane models and $69 for the leather versions. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple posts video of Steve Jobs tribute event

Apple has posted a video of its special event celebrating the life of Steve Jobs. The video, which runs over 80 minutes in length, was recorded at Apple’s campus in Cupertino, CA on October 19, and features speeches and remembrances from Apple CEO Tim Cook, former Apple employee and Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell, former U.S. Vice President and Apple board member Al Gore, and Apple senior vice president of industrial design Jonathan Ive, and musical performances by Norah Jones and Coldplay.

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