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DOJ clears way for Apple-led purchase of Nortel patents

The Rockstar Consortium, a patent group co-owned by Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony, has announced that the US Department of Justice waiting period for review of its proposed acquisition of a substantial majority of the former Nortel Networks patent portfolio has expired. The expiration clears the way for Rockstar to close the deal, giving Apple and its partners access to roughly 4,000 patent assets “spanning wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, service provider, semiconductors and other patents.” Rockstar won an auction for the patents last summer with a bid of $4.5 billion, $2.6 billion of which was provided by Apple.

Apple confirms third-gen iPad pre-order sell-out

In a statement released to USA Today over the weekend, Apple confirmed that it has sold out of all third-generation iPad pre-order stock available for delivery on launch day. “Customer response to the new iPad has been off the charts and the quantity available for pre-order has been purchased,” Apple said in the statement. “Customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date.” On Friday, shipping times for new pre-orders slipped from March 16 to March 19, and Apple’s online store in the US now lists all new orders as shipping in 2-3 weeks. Apple will officially launch the third-generation iPad on March 16.

New third-gen iPad orders now shipping March 19 in US

It appears as though Apple has sold through its launch day allotment of the third-generation iPad on its online store. A quick check of the Apple Store in the U.S. shows that every color and capacity of third-generation iPad is now listed as shipping “by March 19”, as compared to the prior message which indicated the device would be delivered on March 16. As reported earlier today, Apple has started to email some customers in the UK to tell them that their orders—originally quoted with the March 16 delivery date—would not arrive until March 20 or 21.

Apple’s third-gen iPad, Apple TV event coverage, summarized

There’s been a crazy quantity of news over the last day—new iPad and Apple TV hardware, new iOS and iTunes software, a new iPhoto app for iOS, and updates to virtually every major Apple-developed app in the App Store. Here’s an index to all of the major stories we’ve posted so that you can see what’s what, easily.

The Third-Generation iPad: Apple unveiled the third-generation iPad, dropping its recent numbering scheme in favor of calling it “the new iPad.” It features a Retina Display with over 3 million pixels, a new 5MP rear camera, support for some 4G LTE networks, and a body that’s slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2’s, but is otherwise cosmetically virtually identical. After the announcement, we discovered that the new iPad’s battery was much larger, Bluetooth 4 was added, and AirPlay was still locked at 720p from the super high-res device.

Click on the title of this article for many more links to our coverage.

US Justice Department warns Apple of anti-trust suit

The United States Justice Department has warned Apple and five of the largest U.S. publishers that it plans to file an anti-trust suit against them. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the suit will accuse Apple, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan, and HarperCollins of colluding to raise the price of electronic books. Several of the parties have held talks to settle the case and prevent a court battle, according to the report, and such a settlement could lead to cheaper e-book pricing. Not every publisher is in settlement discussions, however. The companies are also being investigated by the European Union over the same alleged offense.

Apple drops prices on refurbished iPad 2 units

Following the announcement of the third-generation iPad, Apple has dropped its pricing on refurbished iPad 2 units. Refurbished 16GB Wi-Fi units are now only $349, with 32GB and 64GB models selling for $449 and $549, respectively; Wi-Fi + 3G models sell for a $120 premium. In addition, the company also still offers refurbished first-generation iPads, with pricing set at $399 for a 32GB model or a 16GB 3G model and $499 for 64GB units.

Apple posts first TV ad for third-gen iPad

Apple has posted its first TV advertisement for the third-generation iPad. Entitled “This Good”, the 30-second spot shows the device being used against a white background, while a narrator states, “When a screen becomes this good, colors are more vibrant, words are pin sharp, everything is more brilliant. Because when a screen becomes this good, it’s simply you and the things you care about. The stunning Retina display on the new iPad.” The ad is now available for viewing on Apple’s website.

Apple intros AppleCare+ for iPad

In conjunction with today’s announcement of the third-generation iPad, Apple has introduced its new AppleCare+ protection plan for iPad. As with the same plan for the iPhone, the new AppleCare+ for iPad extends both warranty coverage and phone support for the device to two years—normally limited to one year and 90 days, respectively. In addition, the plan adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage for the same $49 service fee as seen on the iPhone. AppleCare+ for the iPad sells for $99 and must be purchased within 30 days of the purchase of the iPad.

Apple releases Apple TV Software Update 5.0

Apple today released Apple TV Software Update 5.0, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. The new update introduces a significantly redesigned user interface for the main menu. Apple has yet to update its Support page with details on 5.0 so it is unclear exactly what other improvements have been made in this latest update. Apple TV Software Update 5.0 is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s General Settings menu.

Update: According to Apple’s release notes, the latest update also includes support for Movie purchases in iCloud where availalbe, Genius Recommendations for content on the iTunes Store, new built-in screensaver photos from National Geographic and on-device sign-up for content partners on Apple TV using an Apple ID.

Apple releases iTunes 10.6 with 1080p support, iTunes Match improvements

Following today’s iPad event, Apple has released iTunes 10.6, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to the release notes, iTunes 10.6 adds the ability to play 1080p HD movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store and adds a number of improvements for iTunes Match including improved song matching, album artwork handling, downloading and display. As with all new Apple media hardware, iTunes 10.6 will also be the minimum requirement for syncing the new third-generation iPad and new third-generation Apple TV announced at today’s event. iTunes 10.6 is available now as a free download from apple.com/itunes and should be available via the company’s Software Update utility later today.

Apple posts video of iPad, Apple TV event

Apple has now posted a streaming video of its latest special media event, at which it announced the third-generation Apple TV and third-generation iPad. The video is just over 85 minutes long, and includes demonstrations of the new Apple TV interface, as well as iPhoto for iOS, and Infinity Blade: Dungeons. The video is available for viewing now from Apple’s website.

 

Apple releases iOS 5.1 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Following today’s iPad event, Apple has released iOS 5.1 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. According to the release notes, the new version adds Japanese language support for Siri and the ability to delete photos from the Photo Stream. Additionally, the Camera shortcut is now always visible on the lock screen for the iPHone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and fourth-generation iPod touch and improvements have been made to camera face detection to highlight all detected faced. The update also includes a redesigned Camera app for the iPad and adds support for Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers. Several other optimizations and bug fixes are noted including improvements to audio for TV shows and movies on the iPad, podcast controls for playback speed and skip back on the iPad as well as an updated AT&T network indicator and fixes for issues relating to battery life and audio dropouts on outgoing calls. iOS 5.1 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, third-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch, and is available now via the update feature in iTunes or as an over-the-air update. To update your iOS device over-the-air, open Settings, tap on General, and tap on Software Update.

Apple drops price of the iPad 2 to $399

Alongside the announcement of third-generation iPad and Apple TV hardware, Apple today announced that it was dropping the price of the base iPad 2 model to $399. The 16GB version will continue to be sold in black and white alongside the third-generation iPad—referred to by the company as “The new iPad”—which will assume the prior iPad 2 price points of $499-$699 for Wi-Fi-only models and $629-$829 for 4G-enabled units. Apple did not indicate that it would continue to sell Wi-Fi + 3G iPad 2 units, but will likely have some supply available at a modest discount until supplies run out.

Apple announces iPhoto for iOS

During today’s iPad event in San Francisco, Apple also took the wraps off iPhoto for iPad, the latest iOS app in the company’s iLife suite. Described as the “reinvention” of iPhoto, the new app provides new and expanded photo browsing and editing capabilities directly on the iPad with a smarter photo browsing interface, advanced multi-touch editing features and professional quality effects. A new Photo Beaming feature also allows users to easily transfer photos directly between different devices.

During the presentation, Apple demonstrated several additional advanced features including the ability to automatically find and compare similar pictures simply by double-tapping on a photo, browsing photos via intuitive multi-touch gestures and sophisticated editing and auto-enhancement features. The app supports photo resolutions up to 19 megapixels and includes the ability to flag and collect photos and them share them easily via e-mail, Flickr, Twitter and other services. Users can also create Photo Journals to collect their favourite pictures into themed template pages that can also include related information such as calendar dates, maps and weather. iPhoto for iOS is $5 and is expected to be available on the App Store later today.

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.”

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