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Apple e-mail tries to create iPad 2 lines

Apple has sent out an email to customers urging them to line up to buy the iPad 2 on Friday. “Be the first to get the next iPad,” reads the email. “The Apple Store is the best place to experience iPad. Our Specialists will show you around the features, help you choose the perfect model, and set everything up just the way you like. So you’ll be up and running before you leave the store.” Below the text is a link to Apple’s Retail page, with a store locator feature. Unlike prior launches, Apple does not appear to be offering any pre-orders or reservations for the iPad 2, instead forcing users to either wait in line at an Apple Store—or one of its retail partners, which include Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Sam’s Club—or order online for later delivery. While the draw of an Apple launch may be exciting to some, iLounge suggests based on past line-up experiences that readers skip the potentially lengthy lines at Apple’s retail stores, and instead secure units via online ordering. Having to line up in the middle of a work week, particularly for an incrementally improved device, will be unnecessarily inconvenient for all but the hardest-core Apple fans.

Developers debate iPad 2 video mirroring copyright issues

Tips from a reader indicate that the iPad 2’s new screen mirroring feature may not be as broadly supported as users might hope, due to certain third-party developers’ copyright concerns. Introduced by Apple at this week’s media event in San Francisco, iPad 2 screen mirroring enables an iPad 2 to display all of its screen contents on an HDMI port-equipped HDTV, duplicating whatever is being shown on the device’s 9.7” touchscreen. This feature was initially said to depend upon Apple’s new Digital AV Adapter accessory, which will sell for $39. In introducing the Adapter, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that “it works with all apps, so anything you can see on the iPad screen, you see on HDMI.” Apple’s web site notes that the Adapter can also display movies “at up to 720p” and other content “in up to 1080p HD.”

According to our reader, Apple has turned screen mirroring on by default on the iPad 2, unlike AirPlay wireless video streaming, which is disabled by default and therefore only implemented by developers who want to support the feature. Though Apple has included a screen mirroring toggle to let third-party applications send different content through the Adapter, some developers plan to use it to “opt out” of screen mirroring altogether, citing potential copyright issues with displaying some or all of their video content through a connected TV. If implemented in this fashion, iPad 2 video mirroring using the Digital AV Adapter could have significant limitations, similar to Apple’s iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter, which was released without a conspicuous disclosure that some iTunes-purchased videos would refuse to play through the Adapter for unspecified contractual reasons, leading to widespread user complaints.

On the rare occasions that it has discussed the issue, Apple has maintained that Hollywood studios are to blame for the iPad’s video output limitations, and Jobs has publicly thrown up his hands in apparent frustration with contracts that have limited the device’s output capabilities. While it is unclear whether the Digital AV Adapter will handle iTunes-protected content better than the VGA Adapter did, particularly in light of a new claim on Apple’s web site that the VGA Adapter will also support iPad 2 video mirroring and 1080p video out, it is likely that the Digital AV Adapter includes support for high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP), an anti-piracy technology that would satisfy studios’ contractual requirements.

Apple, record labels in talks over unlimited downloads

Apple is negotiating with record labels over a new arrangement that would allow iTunes users easier access to purchased music across multiple devices, according to Bloomberg. Calling the move “a step closer to universal access to content centrally stored on the Internet” and citing three people with knowledge of the plans, the report states that under the new agreement, iTunes customers would have a permanent backup of their purchased music should the originals become damaged or lost, and would be able to download multiple times across every device that was linked to their iTunes accounts. Involved in the talks are all of the “big four” labels—Universal, Sony, Warner Bros., and EMI—and the report notes that an agreement could be announced by midyear. [via Engadget]

iOS 4.3 GM seed released to developers

Following its official announcement at the iPad 2 media event yesterday, Apple has released a pre-release version of the Gold Master of iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to members of the iOS developer program. This likely represents the last developer-only release prior to the final public release of iOS 4.3 which has been scheduled for March 11th. It is currently unknown what specific changes have been made in this latest version, although Apple highlighted some of the new features in iOS 4.3 during yesterday’s media event and some previews have been seen from prior beta releases. Apple’s iOS 4.3 GM seeds for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch are available now to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center. Notably, although developers were previously provided with a beta version of iOS 4.3 for the Apple TV, a GM seed of the Apple TV iOS has not yet been made available.

Apple pulls MobileMe uploading from iPad 2

Obscured by the many iPad 2-related announcements yesterday, Apple failed to make any mention of MobileMe-based video or photo uploading during its media event. A quick scan of Apple’s iPad 2 mini-site shows that no references are made to sharing photos or videos via MobileMe, although the service is still mentioned by name in references to synchronization and location-based services. Recent reports have suggested that Apple is working on a revamp of its paid MobileMe service which would position it as a free online, cloud-based “locker” for content such as photos, videos, and music. In addition, the company recently discontinued its boxed MobileMe retail packages before pulling it from its computer configuration options and ultimately removing any method through which a user could pay for the service. References to a “Media Stream” service have been found inside recent beta versions of iOS 4.3, which might point to a replacement service for traditional MobileMe sharing options.

Apple lowers iPad 1 new/used prices, offers some refunds

Following yesterday’s announcement of the iPad 2, Apple is now selling the original first-generation iPad as refurbished for prices starting at $349 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model up to $659 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G model, with new units selling at $100 reductions from their original $499 to $829 asking prices. Similar price reductions have been made in other countries as well, where the first-generation iPad is still being sold on the main Apple Store pages at reduced prices, pending the March 25th release of the iPad 2 in those countries.

Further, Electric Pig is reporting that Apple is offering refunds for customers who have purchased first-generation iPads within the past 14 days. Upon request to the company, Apple will refund the $100 price difference for customers who would prefer to keep their original iPad rather than returning it.

Hands-on iPad 2 camera interface, Smart Cover videos posted

We’ve just posted an iPad 2 hands-on interface video (new: HD version) on Vimeo so that you can check out the new camera features, settings, and other neat features of the second-generation iPad, as well as a hands-on iPad Smart Cover installation video showing how the magnetic clasp system and auto-lock/unlock features work. For more hands-on details, check out our First Looks at the iPad 2 and the iPad Smart Cover.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2 with iOS 4.3 support

Following today’s iPad 2 media event, Apple has released iTunes 10.2, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.2 allows users to sync with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices using iOS 4.3 and adds Home Sharing support that will allow iOS 4.3 device users to browse and play music streamed from their iTunes libraries. This update likely also adds compatibility with the forthcoming iPad 2. iTunes 10.2 is available now as a free download from iTunes.com or via Apple’s Software Update utility.

Apple releases iPad 2 Dock

Following today’s iPad 2 announcement, Apple has unveiled a new iPad 2 Dock. Priced at $29, the Apple iPad 2 Dock includes a 30-pin Dock Connector port for charging and syncing the iPad as well as connecting other accessories such as the Apple Digital AV Adapter cable and iPad Camera Connection Kit. The Dock also provides a 3.5mm audio line-out port for connecting to powered speakers. The new Dock uses a slightly different design from the original iPad Dock with a small lip at the front. The package will include the Dock only, requiring users to use the cables included with the iPad 2 or purchase additional cables separately.

Complete transcript of Apple’s iPad 2 Event

Below is a complete transcript of iLounge’s play-by-play coverage of Apple’s iPad 2 media event, held on March 2, 2011, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco. Updates are presented in chronological order; photos from the event can be seen on iLounge’s Flickr account.

8:48AM PT: It’s a rainy day in San Francisco as people are assembling outside of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to attend Apple’s second-generation iPad unveiling event. Join us a little before 10:00AM Pacific Time / 1:00PM Eastern Time for live updates from the event.

8:55AM PT: Ahead of the event, word leaked out from a reliable source that Apple has added a magnetic front lid clasping system to the new iPad, so that folio-style cases won’t need to have unsightly thick tabs with snaps or Velcro, and may be able to automatically lock and unlock the iPad’s screen as they close and open.

9:00AM PT: We also continue to hear that the new iPad will not be available for immediate purchase, with a minimum of 2-4 week availability deemed likely by sources. This would be similar to Apple’s iPhone release schedules, and unlike its iPod and Mac ones, which most commonly proclaim “in stores today” or “in stores tomorrow” during launch events.

iPad 2 to be released Internationally March 25

Apple has announced that the iPad 2 will be launched simultaneously in 26 additional countries around the world on March 25, two weeks following its U.S. debut. Countries included in the March 25 launch are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. The company intends to launch the iPad 2 in even more countries worldwide “in the coming months” but has not yet committed to which additional countries or any specific release dates. Pricing for the iPad 2 outside of the U.S. has not been announced, and the Apple Stores in other countries are not accepting pre-orders or providing any additional information, instead simply prompting users to sign up to be notified of additional release details as they become available.

U.S. iPad 2 sales start March 11, 5:00 pm, no pre-orders

Apple has released information on its web site indicating that the iPad 2 will go on sale in the U.S. on March 11th at 5:00 pm. Notably, unlike previous Apple product releases it does not appear that customers will be able to pre-order the device online or pre-reserve a device for pickup at a local Apple Retail Store. The Apple Store indicates that customers will be able to place an order “starting March 11.”

The iPad 2 will be selling at the same price points as the original iPad, with the Wi-Fi models selling for $499, $599 and $699 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, respectively, and the Wi-Fi + 3G versions selling for $130 more at $629, $729 and $829. Separate Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available for both AT&T and Verizon.

Apple announces iPad HDMI cable, Smart Covers for iPad 2 (Updated)

Apple today also announced two new accessories that will be available for the iPad 2. A new $39 HDMI video output cable will allow iPad users to connect their devices to an HDTV, providing not only support for displaying HD video content but also mirroring the iPad screen onto a TV, allowing any iPad application to be viewed on the larger screen, including support for both landscape and portrait orientation with no setup or configuration required.

A new Smart Covers accessory was also unveiled for the iPad 2, designed in tandem with the new model. The Smart Cover attaches to the glass screen using magnets built into the iPad 2 which can also detect when the cover is closed. The iPad 2 will be able to automatically sleep when closed, and wake when opened, and magnets will grab and auto-align the cover for easy attachment and removal. The cover also folds into a triangle to be used as a typing stand or video stand and includes a microfiber lining to clean the screen. The cover will be sold in five colours in either polyurethane or leather for $39 and $69 for each version, respectively.

Update: The new HDMI adapter, dubbed the “Apple Digital AV Adapter” has appeared on the Apple Store with a ship date of “Coming Soon.” The cable includes an HDMI port and a 30-pin Dock Connector port for charging the iPad while connected to a TV. The cable is compatible with the iPad, iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch and iPad 2. The product page notes that display mirroring will only be available on the IPad 2.

Apple announces iMovie, Garageband for iPad

Today Apple also announced the upcoming release of two new Apple applications for the iPad: iMovie and GarageBand. iMovie will be released as a universal app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch and provides new features such as multi-track audio editing, a precision editor, and the ability to output video via AirPlay and share videos in HD with popular sites. The app will include an improved UI evolved from the original iMovie app for iOS released last summer, resembling more of a beginners’ version of iMovie for the Mac with more powerful editing features. The new version will include a new voiceover recording system, three new themes, sound effects, transitions and new visual effects. Users will be able to share videos from iMovie to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and CNN iReport.

GarageBand for the iPad will include built-in touch instruments, guitar amps and effects with eight-track mixing and 250 loops built-in. Files created in the iPad version of GarageBand can be used with the Mac version and vice-versa, and GarageBand on the iPad will be able to output directly into AAC format for sending content via e-mail. Users can transform the iPad screen into a variety of touch instruments such as a piano, synthesizer, drum kit or virtual Smart Guitar all with photorealistic interfaces. The app will also take advantage of the accelerometer for velocity-sensitivity on piano keys and drum sets. The app will also provide a series of Smart Instruments designed to be easily played by novices and experienced musicians alike. Users will be able to record from any instrument screen and e-mail their mixes or send them to iTunes.

Both applications are scheduled to be released on March 11th and will sell for $5 each.

Apple previews iOS 4.3, announces March 11th release

During today’s Media Event, Apple’s Scott Forstall provided a preview of iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The new iOS update is expected to improve Safari performance using the Nitro engine for twice the speed and as expected will include improved support for AirPlay video and audio from third-party apps, the ability to customize the iPad switch for mute or orientation lock and support for the new Personal Hotspot feature first debuted on the Verizon iPhone 4. iOS 4.3 will also include support for iTunes Home Sharing, allowing users to wirelessly stream content to an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch from their iTunes library. The iPad 2 will ship with iOS 4.3 which also provides support for FaceTime on the iPad and new software for the iPad 2 cameras. iOS 4.3 is scheduled to be released on March 11 and will support the iPhone 3GS and GSM iPhone 4, first-generation iPad and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. Notably, support for the Verizon iPhone will not be included in the initial iOS 4.3 release; it is unclear whether a later update will be released separately for the Verizon iPhone 4.

Apple demonstrates FaceTime, Photo Booth for iPad 2

At today’s iPad 2 Media Event, Apple’s Scott Forstall provided a demonstration of the new camera features that will be included on the iPad 2. As expected, the iPad 2 will provide built-in support for FaceTime in a manner similar to the FaceTime application included on the fourth-generation iPod touch. FaceTime on the iPad will be shown full-screen and as with other FaceTime-capable devices users will be able to see a preview window in the corner of the screen and switch between cameras to show people what they are looking at.

Apple also unveiled Photo Booth for iOS, which will be included on the iPad 2 as part of iOS 4.3. Similar to the Mac application of the same name, Photo Booth on the iPad 2 will allow users to take pictures with either the front or rear cameras and apply a collection of special effects chosen from windows at the bottom of the screen. Photos can be shared with friends and Forstall noted that the iPad 2 is so fast that 9 live video feeds for the special effects can be previewed on the screen simultaneously.

Apple unveils iPad 2, coming March 11th

During its Media Event today Apple unveiled the latest-generation iPad. Dubbed the iPad 2, Steve Jobs described the new model as an entirely new design. Building on last year’s A4 chip, the iPad 2 features a dual-core A5 chip which provides essentially two processors for twice the performance. Graphics performance in the new model has been enhanced even further with nine times the performance of the first-generation model. Despite the performance improvements, the A5 chip provides the same lower power consumption as last year’s A4 chip, providing the same legendary 10-hour battery life as the first-generation iPad.

As anticipated, the iPad 2 will also include two video cameras—one rear and one front camera for FaceTime, video and photo capture similar to the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. The new model also adds the gyroscope sensor first introduced on the iPhone 4 last summer. Despite the extra hardware, the iPad 2 comes in at 66% of the thickness of the original iPad at 8.8mm—thinner than the iPhone 4, and reducing the weight to 1.3 pounds.

The iPad 2 will be available in two colours—black and white, both available from launch day, as well as 3G versions for both AT&T and Verizon at launch. The iPad 2 is expected to retail at the same prices as last year’s original iPad, with the 16GB model selling for $499 in the U.S. Expected release date is March 11th in the United States, followed by a simultaneous release in 26 other countries on March 25th.

Apple: 100 million iBooks, 15 million iPads, 100 million iPhones sold

Steve Jobs opened Apple’s iPad 2 Media Event today by reporting sales of 100 million iBooks since the launch of the iBookstore last year, with over 2,500 publishers now in the iBookstore, including the recent addition of Random House. The iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstores now include over 200 million registered user accounts. Jobs went on to note that iOS developers have made over $2 billion from selling Apps in the App Store and Apple has now to date shipped 100 million iPhones worldwide.

Continuing his opening remarks, Jobs referred to 2010 as the “Year of the iPad” emphasizing that the iPad was marketed last year as magical and revolutionary technology and has sent competitors back to the drawing board with their designs; their prices and application availability unable to match that of the iPad. Jobs indicated that Apple sold 15 million units in just nine months last year, noting that the iPad has generated $9.5 billion in revenue over that same time period, making it Apple’s most successful single product launch ever. Jobs noted that the App Store now has over 350,000 apps, 65,000 of which are fully iPad-ready.

Random House brings entire U.S. catalog to iBookstore

Following yesterday’s announcement by Random House that it was adopting an agency pricing model for e-book sales, Apple announced today that the publisher has made its entire catalog of 17,000 e-books available for sale on the iBookstore. The catalog includes bestsellers by such authors as Stieg Larson, John Grisham, Dan Brown, Danielle Steel, and Lauren Hillenbrand and customers will also be able to pre-order upcoming releases from Random House directly through the iBookstore. Random House is the last of the six major trade publishers to offer its catalog on the iBookstore.

iLounge’s live coverage of Apple’s iPad 2 event: 10AM PT/1PM ET (updated!)

iLounge will provide live coverage of Apple’s special event in San Francisco tomorrow, starting a little bit before 10:00 AM Pacific Time/1:00PM Eastern Time. We look forward to having you join us here for the event, which is expected to include announcements of the second-generation iPad, iOS 4.3, and updated iTunes/MobileMe services, but could possibly go further.

Bookmark Live.iLounge.com today. Right before the event begins, we’ll be switching over to that special page for updates so that we can optimize performance for all of our readers. A separate chat room will host reader discussions of the announcements as they happen. See you then!

Update: We’re updating the Live.iLounge.com page now with photo links and text. Check it out!

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