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Apple sued over multi-touch technology

Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics has filed suit against Apple claiming infringement on two of Elan’s touch-screen patents. The New York Times reports that the suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, and alleges that Apple products including the MacBook, iPhone, and iPod touch feature technology that infringes on two of Elan’s multi-touch patents. “We couldn’t find a common viewpoint with Apple, so we decided we had to take action,” said Elan spokesman Dennis Liu, adding that the two companies had been in licensing talks for roughly two years. Elan previously sued U.S.-based Synaptics in 2006 over one of the patents mentioned in the Apple suit; Synaptics counter-sued, and both actions were later dismissed after the two companies reached a cross-licensing agreement. It is unclear what damages or action Elan is seeking in its suit against Apple.

Bono: Apple limits led U2 to BlackBerry deal

Irish rock band U2’s falling out with Apple and subsequent partnership with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion was spurred by the former company’s unwillingness to work with the band on a more intimate level, according to a new report. Citing Toronto-based radio DJ Alan Cross, the Globe and Mail reports that when asked about the new partnership with RIM, U2 lead singer Bono said, “I’m very excited about this[.] Research In Motion is going to give us what Apple wouldn’t — access to their labs and their people so we can do something really spectacular.” After Cross asked Bono whether this might entail a special U2 BlackBerry application that would help the band interact with fans on their upcoming tour, the singer responded simply, “You’re not far off.” Apple originally introduced the special edition U2 iPod in October of 2004, upgrading it to add a color screen, and introducing a new version based on the fifth-generation iPod in 2006. The U2 iPods were cross-promoted with U2’s album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and a downloadable video called Love U2. Apple has since released the iPod classic without a version specific to U2 or any other band, while U2 has released an album with comparatively mild promotion from Apple.

Apple second quarter earnings release coming April 22

Apple has announced that it will reveal its financial results of its second fiscal quarter on Wednesday, April 22. As it has in the past, the company will also conduct a conference call at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time that day to discuss the results. When announcing its first fiscal quarter results, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said the company expects revenue in the range of about $7.6 billion to $8 billion, with diluted earnings per share in the range of about $.90 to $1.00. [via SetteB.IT]

Apple moves up in Greenpeace electronics rankings

Apple has moved up the list of companies featured in Greenpeace’s latest Guide to Greener Electronics. Apple, which was 14th in past rankings, moved up to 10th in the latest set, scoring a 4.7 out of ten. Fellow mobile handset producers Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson top the list in first, second, and third places, respectively. According to Greenpeace, the company is doing well on chemicals elimination and has improved its recycling efforts, but still ranks as “poor” on energy; the environmental group cited the company as “bad” for little use of recycled plastic content in its products, but somewhat amusingly noted that certain cases available for its products did use recycled materials. Greenpeace’s full scorecard used for the rankings is available online (PDF Link).

Apple sets WWDC 2009 for June 8-12

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Apple has announced the dates for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The 2009 event will be held June 8-12, in its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco, CA. As with last year’s event, Apple will be providing sessions focusing on both Mac OS X and iPhone OS X, as well as web app development. For the past two years, the company has also used the event’s keynote address as a venue for iPhone-related announcements, revealing the launch date for the original iPhone in 2007, and introducing the iPhone 3G at the 2008 event. It is unclear if Apple CEO Steve Jobs will deliver the keynote at this year’s event, as his six-month leave of absence is not expected to be over until the end of June.

Apple patent app offers smart multi-user car navigation

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A recently published Apple patent application provides details of a “safe” in-vehicle navigation system that the company proposes as an improvement on current and somewhat frustrating alternatives. More specifically, the patent discusses a touch screen-based navigation system that could use touch input in conjunction with a GPS, accelerometer, or other sensors, to sense both whether the vehicle is moving, and whether the car’s driver or passenger is attempting to operate the nav system. If the vehicle is moving and the driver is attempting to operate the system, the user interface is locked down and a warning is provided; by comparison, a passenger can be detected by a seat-based weight sensor and the angle of his or her touch input relative to the screen. Additional settings would be offered to enable the system’s various features to be locked down or unlocked based on specific driving conditions, the experience of the driver, and user preferences. The application notes that the navigation system could be implemented in a variety of ways, including in both hardwired and removable manners, suggesting the patent could be applied to the iPhone and iPod touch as well as factory-installed systems. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Apple Insider]

Apple launches Cross Border international ordering

Apple has quietly launched its new Cross Border ordering option, allowing customers with family or friends in different countries to order products for delivery directly to them. Prior to the launch of this feature, it was impossible to order products from Apple for delivery in a different country. Currently, US-based customers can order items for delivery in Mexico, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Belgium, Finland, and France. To take advantage of the new program, users can visit the Apple Online Store for the destination country.

Apple sends Pivotal C&D letter over Podium accessory

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Apple has sent a cease and desist letter to Pivotal, makers of the iPhone and iPod touch stand Podium, claiming it infringes on the company’s “Pod” trademark. A portion of the letter, published by TUAW, states “[t]he term POD has also been adopted and used extensively in the marketplace by consumers as an abbreviation to refer to Apple’s IPOD player. The IPOD and POD marks indicate to consumers that a broad range of products, including portable electronic devices, computer software, and related goods and services bearing those marks and marks similar thereto originate from or are sponsored or endorsed by Apple.”

While Apple has in the past gone after companies who lacked a logical defense against such a claim, as Pivotal’s president Scott Baumann points out, “If you look at our product and then look up the word Podium in the dictionary, I think it becomes pretty clear where our branding inspiration came from.” The letter goes on to allege that the Podium’s design mimics the stands of recent iMac models, that Pivotal’s website apes Apple’s brand stylization, and also covers Pivotal’s upcoming FlyPod product. Pivotal is currently seeking legal advice on the matter.

iPhone OS stats: 30M devices, 25k apps, 800m downloads, 96% approved

At the start of its iPhone OS 3.0 event today, Apple announced a collection of statistics regarding the growth of the iPhone OS X platform, including:

Over 30M Devices. Apple disclosed that 17 million iPhones and over 13 million iPod touches have been sold so far, for a total of over 30 million iPhone OS devices.

App Store Countries. Fifteen additional countries are being added as App Store countries, bringing the total to 77.

App Store Downloads. As of now, there are over 25,000 applications in the App Store, downloaded collectively over 800 million times.

App Store Approvals. The 25,000 applications represent a 96% approval rate for the total pool of submissions. Of those, 98% of approved apps received approvals in seven days or less.

Fielding questions at the end of the event, Apple executives noted that while the App Store’s submission process wasn’t perfect, the turnaround time has improved, and some of the persistent issues arise from things Apple’s team is spending a lot of time looking out for: essentially, stability issues and content that isn’t suitable for children, pornography, and profanity in titles. The company made no promise to change or improve the process further, relying instead on its commitments to enabling new functionality in the iPhone OS 3.0 software unveiled during the event.

Apple intros Airport Extreme with iPhone-ready dual-band mode

Along with across-the-board updates to its Mac desktop computers, Apple today quietly introduced a new version of its Airport Extreme Base Station, featuring a new dual-band Wi-Fi mode that improves wireless performance on recent computers that share networks with devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch. The new dual-band support lets 802.11b/g devices, such as older computers, the iPhone, and the iPod touch, connect using the 2.4GHz wireless band, while simultaneously allowing 802.11n devices, such as modern computers and the Apple TV, to connect over the higher-speed 5GHz band, ensuring the fastest possible wireless performance for all devices on the network. In addition, the new Extreme offers guest networking features, support for up to 50 devices, the ability to share an external USB printer or hard drive—including over the Internet via a MobileMe account—and more. Apple’s new Airport Extreme Base Station is available now and sells for $180; the same dual-band and other features were added to the company’s Time Capsule wireless backup routers, which remain priced at $299 for the 500GB model and $499 for the 1TB model.

Japanese iPhone “hate” disputed by Wired, Tokyo-based source

In an unusual public dispute over the current Japanese popularity of the iPhone 3G, Tokyo-based freelance writer and self-described “most famous advocate of iPhone in Japan” Nobuyuki Hayashi has taken Wired to task for republishing his eight-month old quote on the topic—originally rendered before the launch of the device—as evidence of Japan’s supposed “hate” for the iPhone. Hayashi, who has written about Apple products for a number of Japanese and international publications, used the situation as a springboard to disagree with Wired’s article, and share a wide variety of interesting observations about the iPhone 3G’s successes and problems in Japan, including:

• Initial skepticism from certain newspapers, including the Sankei Shimbun, has evolved into more positive coverage with the growth of the App Store.

• While projected Japanese sales of the iPhone 3G are in the 300,000 - 400,000 range, lower than apparently inaccurate sales targets that were circulated last year, poor overall Japanese cell phone sales in 2008 would place the iPhone’s Japanese sales at or above Apple’s targeted global 1% level for the year.

• Apple responses to Japanese complaints about the device have been addressed by the company, including the addition of Emoji icons and the sale of a battery-aided TV tuner, with pricing issues addressed this week in a campaign that has seen lines forming to purchase iPhones.

• One remaining issue, the iPhone 3G’s inability to serve as a digital credit card for making purchases, has not been addressed by Apple, though some iPhone users have developed workarounds known throughout the Japanese community.

• Softbank, Apple’s sole service partner for the iPhone in Japan, has recently won awards for its TV advertisements, but has done comparatively little to promote the iPhone due to Apple approvals required for marketing purposes. Consequently, the majority of Japanese consumers remain unfamiliar with the device, though they warm quickly to it when they’re given the opportunity to actually use one.

• Softbank lags modestly behind competitors NTT DoCoMo and KDDI in network coverage and frequency options, and has struggled with domestic media perceptions about its viability, reasons that Apple might need to expand its partnerships in the country.

The full, interesting posting from Nobuyuki Hayashi can be read here.

Papermaster starts April 24 as Apple iPod/iPhone hardware chief

Following months of litigation, Mark Papermaster, Apple’s new senior vice president of Devices Hardware Engineering, will begin work on April 24. The company announced Papermaster as a replacement for outgoing iPod division senior vp Tony Fadell in November, only to have a U.S. District Court Judge order Papermaster to “immediately cease his employment with Apple Inc” less than a week later, due to a non-compete agreement he signed with previous employer IBM. According to Apple’s statement, the litigation between Papermaster and IBM “has been resolved,” adding that he will report directly to CEO Steve Jobs, despite his current medical absence.

Live updates from Apple Q1 2009 Conference Call

During the company’s Q1 2009 Conference Call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and COO Tim Cook made several comments during the call relating to the company’s iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV businesses. According to Oppenheimer, customers love the sleek design and colors of the fourth-generation iPod nano. He also said the feature set and App Store have helped iPod touch establish as gaming, entertainment, and communications platform. According to the latest data from the NPD Group, iPod MP3 player marketshare is over 70% in the U.S., and gained in international markets as well, with marketshare of over 70% in the U.K. and Australia, over 60% in Japan, and over 50% in Canada.

The December quarter was the biggest ever for the iTunes Store, including the highest sales ever for Christmas day and week. Although the company had already reached its goal of selling 10 million iPhones in calendar 2008, Oppenheimer reiterated the fact, with Q1 sales pushing the total up to 13.7 million units. The phone was selling in over 70 countries by the end of the quarter, and recorded iPhone revenue was $1.25 billion for the quarter, compared with just $241 million in Q1 2008. Finally, the executives revealed that Apple TV unit sales were up almost 3x from the year-ago quarter, although the company still considers the product a hobby.

The complete record of our live coverage is below.

Apple Q1 2009: 22.7 million iPods, 4.4 million iPhones

Reporting its first quarter financial results today, Apple said it sold a record 22.7 million iPods during the holiday quarter — a 3 percent increase compared to the same quarter last year. It also sold 4.363 million iPhones in the quarter, an 88 percent increase year-over-year, but down from 6.89 million units in the prior quarter. The company posted revenue of $10.17 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.61 billion, or $1.78 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $7.1 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.58 billion, or $1.76 per diluted share in Q1 2008. Sales of Other Music Related Products + Services were up 25% over the year-ago quarter, and up 22% from Q4 2008, to $1.011 billion total. That category includes iTunes Store sales, iPod services, and revenues from Apple and third-party iPod accessories. International sales accounted for 46 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“Even in these economically challenging times, we are incredibly pleased to report our best quarterly revenue and earnings in Apple history—surpassing $10 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time ever,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

“Our outstanding results generated over $3.6 billion in cash during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2009, we expect revenue in the range of about $7.6 billion to $8 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share in the range of about $.90 to $1.00.”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs taking leave of absence

CNBC is reporting that Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence from the company due to health reasons. Earlier this month, Apple published an open letter from Jobs, in which he blamed his recent weight loss on a “hormone imbalance.” He said it would take several months to regain the weight, and reassured investors and followers alike that he would remain Apple’s CEO during his recovery. The story is developing; we will update this story as more details emerge.

Update: Apple has released a copy of Jobs’ internal email sent out to Apple employees announcing the decision. The full text appears below.

“Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve”

Massive Flickr photoset from Macworld Expo 2009 posted

iLounge has just posted a massive photo gallery from Macworld Expo 2009. We’re in the process of sifting through all of the products we’ve been looking through during the day, but it suffices to say that there isn’t a huge amount to get excited about here. Photos show both major booths with handfuls of cool products, and many minor booths. We’ll have more to come later today.

Apple: No new iPod, iPhone announcements for MW Expo

iLounge editors have been able to confirm with Apple representatives that there are no new developments for the company’s iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV products planned for announcement at Macworld Expo beyond what was mentioned in the keynote. While only a few small iPhone/iPod related items were mentioned during the address, Apple has in the past released small updates to product lines, such as capacity bumps, on an under-the-radar basis directly after keynotes and other events.

Full transcript of 2009 MWSF Keynote Address

Continue reading a full play-by-play transcript of the keynote address from the 2009 Macworld Conference and Expo, presented by Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing for Apple, Inc. Note that events are presented in reverse chronological order. Most of the announcements found in this transcript are explained in further detail in separate news articles; photos from the event can be found here.

10:33 AM: This most likely signals the end of the presentation. Sorry, iPod + iPhone fans - we were hoping for more today, too. But there has been a little good news, especially for iPhone users. Lots of applause for Bennett. He’s doing another song. Left my Heart in San Francisco. A melancholy way to close this all out. The 3G iTunes music downloading is working _RIGHT NOW_, Jesse Hollington confirms. Standing O for Tony Bennett. We’ll be updating iLounge with all the news from the show, stay tuned, guys! Thanks for tuning in.

10:29 AM: iTunes. iPhone 3G downloading of music starts today. Since they’re ending on music, they have a musical performer… Grammy winner… 15 Grammies, 2 Emmys, Tony Bennett. Song that is “very appropriate to this last Macworld,” Schiller says. Bennett slides out on a platform with a band. The Best is Yet to Come is the song.

10:27 AM: iTunes. DRM-free, 256k encoding in AAC, one-click upgrades from iTunes. All the majors, starting today, 8 million songs are DRM-free. By the end of this quarter, 2 million more - all 10m songs will be DRM-free. In AAC format. It’s easy to upgrade library to DRM free for a fee. Third new thing: iPhone/iTunes. Wi-Fi Music Store. You’ll be able to buy music over 3G network. So it’s no longer Wi-Fi Music Store. Same price. Same selection. Same quality. Anytime, anywhere, you can get music on your iPhone.

10:24 AM: iTunes. iTunes Music Store started 6 years ago. What’s happened: 6 billion songs. 10,000,000 songs available. 75,000,000 accounts with credit cards. iTunes #1 channel for music in USA. What’s new? Three things. Price. One pricing model for all songs in the past. The music companies will have more flexibility - three pricing tiers. $0.99, $0.69, and $1.29. Based on how the companies offer music, that’ll be the pricing. More music will be sold at 69 than 1.29. iTunes Plus is DRM-free music.

10:23 AM: MBP 17”. Completes lineup of the MacBook family. One last thing… iTunes.

10:20 AM: MBP 17”. So the bottom of the MBP 17” is just a plain sheet of aluminum, no latches, no segments. 7 hours of life on the 9600GT or 8 hours on the 9400M. It can be BTO - same price of $2799 to start, 2.66GHz, 4GB memory, 320GB drive + SuperDrive. Ships at end of January. 34% smaller packaging, too, they note. Showing TV ad.

10:15 AM: MBP 17”. Video of engineers talking about the battery tech. Bob Mansfield talking about how they give you 8 hours on single charge, 1,000 recharges. Dan Riccio, VP of Product Design. Removable battery is gone. They are justifying on video the non-removable battery. They say that by making specially shaped batteries they can fill the space better. Ugh. Lithium Polymer battery video. Adaptive charging lets the batteries get charged intelligently by talking to the individual cells inside the battery. It will have 3X the number of recharges and lifespan of “industry standard,” Riccio says on video. Environmentally friendly… a lot less batteries will wind up in landfills.

10:10 AM: 17” MBP is the third thing today. Unibody enclosure… all of Apple’s buddies praising it, being shown on screen. Doesn’t this ever get old? MacBook #1 on best-seller lists. The 17” version looks like the others. 0.98” inches thin, world’s thinnest 17”, 6.6 pounds is lightest. LED backlit display, 1920x1200. Wide viewing angle, 700:1 contrast ratio and 60% greater color gamut. Best display they’ve done, he says. Some high-end customers don’t want clossy. $50 Anti-Glare option. Loses the black glass and goes with silver metal instead. Superdrive and lock on right. Standard IO on the other side like 15” - 3 USB ports, FW800. No FW400. Up to 2.93GHz Core 2 Duo, 8GB memory 1GHz DDR3, GeForce 9400M + 9600MGT built in. Standard 320GB, 256GB SSD offered. All the same stuff as in other MacBooks. Greatest feature, he says, is the battery.

10:09 AM: iWork ‘09. This is a lot easier than trying to send stuff through e-mail… and lets you get access to documents anywhere. Launches today. You can get to it via the new iWork ‘09.

10:04 AM: iWork ‘09: iWork.com demo.

Lets you just select any iWork document and share it over the site, with invites to people who want to see it. (Just go right ahead and share your business documents over the web. ...) You get an e-mail invite to view the document on Mac or PC under any popular browser. Being shown in an educational context where it makes more sense. For now it’s free, eventually it’ll be paid.

10:01 AM: iWork ‘09. That’s it for iWork ‘09. $79 or $99 for Family Pack. If you purchase it with a new Mac, you can get it for $49. Ships today. Leopard is required for new iLife; if you want to buy all three - Mac Box Set of all three at $169, Leopard, iLife + iWork. Ships late January. So looks like no Snow Leopard in there, until later. iWork.com is a new service, going into Beta. A new service that will let you share iWork documents with other people. View documents online. Add comments and notes, which you can see. You can also download a copy from iWork.com rather than using e-mails - even for large files.

9:58 AM: iWork ‘09, Numbers ‘09. This year it has added features requested by customers. Table categories. It can now do auto-grouping of information in a table based on similar words. Easy formula writing has been added; 250 functions now that are easy to find and understand. Dennis is falling asleep. New chart options, inclduing mixed chart types, multi-axis, trend lines, and error bars. Linked charts between Pages and Numbers, and new templates.

9:55 AM: iWork ‘09, Pages. Full-screen view. Lets you see multiple pages on screen at once rather than cluttering with toolbars. Dynamic outlines so that you can create an outline and then build pages off of the outline, allowing for reorganization of the outline dynamically. Mail merge with Numbers, now added. MathType and EndNote support. Complicated bibliographies etc. supported. Plus 40 new templates for documents.

9:49 AM: Item number 2 today: iWork ‘09. Keynote, Pages, Numbers all updated. Keynote gets new animation tools for better presentations. Magic Move is a new feature that does transition between slides. If slide one is a collection of cards and 2 is only one card, it auto-transitions between them - you just choose how you want the start and end slides to look and it does the rest. Powerful transition effects that look really nice. Text transitions have also been added, including “swing” where the text swings from one word to another. Shimmer effect has sparkles. Anagram is a reorg of letters. Great new metallic chart look and animations, also stone textures, wood, etc, all animated. New themes. Very simple. Keynote Remote feature - an iPhone app to let you control keynote. Works on iPod touch or iPhone. Talk wirelessly using wi-fi to yor Mac, giving you slides and speaker notes you’ve added. Flick to advance slides. Lots of applause on this. $0.99 application from Apple. First time Apple is charging for an iPhone app other than a game.

9:48 AM: Other updates to iWeb and iDVD. Free with all new Macs. Upgrade is $79. $99 Family Pack for 5 machines. Will ship late January.

9:45 AM: Colbie Callat, Patrick Stump/Fall Out Boy, Sting, and more. Sarah McLachlan, Ryan Tedder/OneRepublic, Norah Jones. Every one presented in video form so you can learn how to play their songs. There’s a lesson store and a new section of Garageband for iPhone Ringtones, too. The artists help you learn the stories behind songs, view lyrics and notation, practice with tracks, create your own mix, slow down any part. John Fogerty talking about the making of his song - very self-deprecating humor and amusing anecdotes on Proud Mary. This is awesome.

9:40 AM: The last of the apps he’s highlighting is Garageband ‘09. New guitar effects, etc. Only one feature he’ll talk about: create software that can help someone learn to play a musical instrument. It’s called Learn to Play. New UI that teaches guitar or keyboard, with an HD video instructor who helps you learn. “Tim,” a recorded Applesque guy, shows you how to use the piano or guitar on screen, plus notation. 9 basic guitar lessons and 9 basic piano for free, you can download what you want. Artist Lessons help you learn to play songs with artists! John Fogerty.

9:37 AM: iMovie ‘09: pro-quality animated maps showing in either 2-D or 3-D where you’ve traveled from and to. New transitions, titles, and themes added. The five themes bring in some nice effects—very professional-quality effects for consumers, easy to create.

9:34 AM: iMovie ‘09: Audio tracks can be edited separately so that two videos spliced together don’t overlay audio on top of each other. Very streamlined, visual process for editing videos. Video stabilization - iMovie analyzes every frame to figure out motions. Bouncing Jeep video he’s showing makes the video look totally stable - shot from a moving car, yet the video looks completely professional in stability. You also have the ability to transform videos into slow-mo mode very easily. Aged film and cartoon and X-ray effects can be added to videos in realtime.

9:30 AM: iMovie ‘09 Demo. Randy Ubillos, who came up with the new app last year, is up for the video demo. Chief Architect of Video Applications for Apple. You can add picture-in-picture to your videos, cutaways to shots, everything else real easily. You can also place the audio only from a video clip into the background of an existing video sequence, with just drag + drop. Precision editor gives you a large view of both clips you are trying to combine to figure out where you want to splice, and what can go into the final edit.

9:28 AM: iMovie ‘09. Last year they wiped out the old version, getting rid of some old features. This year, they’ve brought back the depth and power. Precision editor. You can edit audio and video up close now. Advanced drag and drop feature that lets you choose how to deal with clips added to the timeline. New themes, with titles, transitions and effects created for you. Animated travel maps in 2-D or 3-D show where you traveled during your video. There is now also AUTOMATIC VIDEO STABILIZATION. Videos you couldn’t use before are auto-fixed.

9:26 AM: One cool feature: it sorts all of the photos taken in different locations, so if you want to find everything taken in one spot, you just click on the location’s name and it locates everything for you.

9:24 AM: Demo continues to move through Faces, Places… Notably, Phil Schiller’s delivery during the speech thus far has been pretty strong. While he doesn’t have the air of danger that surrounds Steve Jobs during a keynote - Phil comes across as a friendly guy - he’s doing a good job. Showing how when you move through a collection of photos taken along a street, how the pins placed automatically on a Places map let you see where photos were taken, highlighting the current location with a pin on the map.

9:20 AM: Product demo. Basically what we’ve already heard, being shown in the software.

9:19 AM: Photo printing and books. Travel books and new themes, better printing have been added. Inside, you can add maps for travel books, inclusive of info on where you were based on geotagging. All handled automatically. You can print on the sleeve and hardcover as well.

9:18 AM: Some effects literally rip the photos to shreds and reassemble them. Pro-quality looks. You can sync the slideshows to iTunes and iPhone/iPod touch! Finallllllly.

9:15 AM: Also: Facebook and Flickr support. Just click a button with tagged info on the people in the photo, syncs IDs of people that you’ve added, as well as re-synching info from Facebook back to your library. Flickr sync and geotag support is there. New Slideshow Themes let you select a number of effects, music, with cool animated themes somewhat like iDVD and iPhoto Books, combined. It uses face detection to properly position photos in the middle of a realtime slideshow. Smart.

9:11 AM: iPhoto ‘09: Places. Will it use GPS? A map appears with pins where your photos were taken. It uses GPS Geotagging, which is starting to make its way into cameras - iPhone 3G and recent Nikon camera - have geotags. iPhoto figures out where things are on a map, IDing them by name rather than just the longitude/latitude details. If you have a photo that hasn’t been geotagged (because it’s old), you can categorize entire events by location. There’s a DB with thousands of locations to help you find where the event took place. The maps come from Google Maps. Satellite images and overhead maps are both available.

9:08 AM: iPhoto ‘09. Faces is a new way to organize photos. (Facial recognition technology?) You get a corkboard with snapshots of people. How does it work? Face detection. You can name a person in a photo, and then it figures out who the person is. It uses Face Recognition across multiple photos. (Hope this works for babies.) You give the program a little help IDing faces, but this is the best technology they’ve found to do it.

9:07 AM: An entire new version of iLife, iLife ‘09. There’s nothing as good as iLife on a personal computer.

9:06 AM: 100 Macworlds each and every week in the Stores. People come to get hands on iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac. Mac has had huge resurgence with customers. Today, is all about the Mac. 9.7m Macs sold. Twice as fast as rest of industry growth. Best product line ever for the Mac. Three new things to tell you about.

9:03 AM: Lights are dim. Event starting. Schiller takes stage in blue button-down shirt and jeans. Audience applauds. “So much going on across all our businesses…” Excitement highest in Apple’s stores. Picture of Beijing location. Then Munich, Germany. Sydney, Australia. What other company’s logo, he asks, could ever be in front of such beautiful stores? 3.4 million customers per week visit Apple Stores around the world.

9:02 AM: There’s a simple computer setup on stage, still no Phil Schiller. It looks from a distance to be an old 20” Cinema Display.

9:00 AM: The sheer number of iPhones in use here is insane. Obviously, it’s an Apple event, but… (Coldplay is playing.)

9:00 AM: Pretty much all the seats except for the VIP section are occupied here.

8:59 AM: “Welcome to Macworld 2009… silence your cell phones and paging devices as a courtesy…”

8:56 AM: It’s obvious that Apple likes Beck. Ever since he was involved in the very first limited edition iPods—the ones with artists’ signatures on the back, years ago—he has occasionally shown up in iPod-related materials, and his music is currently playing (Gamma Ray). (Note: Tony Hawk, Madonna, and No Doubt were other limited-edition iPod participants, before the release of the U2 iPod.)

8:55 AM: For iPod and iPhone users, the announcements expected today are relatively low-key. We’ve heard whispers of a new iPod shuffle, capacity bumps, iPhone-to-Mac tethering, and iTunes announcements. We’ll see what actually gets announced, but this will be a bigger day for Mac-related news than iPod and iPhone news—sales statistics aside.
8:51 AM: They’ve updated their playlist of pre-keynote music. Similar artists, new songs.

8:50 AM: Apart from the suggestion that Steve Jobs won’t be opening the keynote, this seems in all regards like a typical Apple keynote event.

8:50 AM: Welcome, iLounge readers, to our coverage of the 2009 Macworld Expo keynote.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs pens open letter on health

Following ongoing rumors regarding the health of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the company co-founder has published an open letter on the matter. Jobs writes, “For the first time in a decade, I’m getting to spend the holiday season with my family, rather than intensely preparing for a Macworld keynote. Unfortunately, my decision to have Phil deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumors about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed.
I’ve decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow.”

“As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority. Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause—a hormone imbalance that has been ‘robbing’ me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis. The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I’ve already begun treatment. But, just like I didn’t lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple’s CEO during my recovery.”

He continues, “I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple’s CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first. So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.”

iLounge’s Live Macworld ‘09 Coverage: 9am PT, Tuesday, 1/6/09 [Updated]

As always, iLounge’s editors are in the process of arriving in San Francisco, California to cover tomorrow morning’s keynote address from Apple, as well as all of the other major news from Macworld Expo. Please bookmark this page and plan to tune in to our live play-by-play coverage of the keynote slightly before 9AM Pacific Time.

iLounge’s live coverage provides a high-speed text feed to bring you the very first word on major keynote announcements, with some accompanying photography. Past live feeds have been up to minutes ahead of coverage found elsewhere, and we have a team of five editors in place this year to cover the many announcements expected from both Apple and third-party developers in the early hours of the show. Expect some interesting but small surprises tomorrow. We look forward to sharing them with you.

Update:

iLounge editors are now on site outside of the hall where Phil Schiller will give this morning’s keynote address. Crowds outside the Moscone Center are said to appear lighter than in previous years, with a decidedly less excited vibe indoors, as well.

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