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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.

Siri co-founder Kittlaus leaves Apple

Siri co-founder and CEO Dag Kittlaus has left Apple, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, AllThingsD reports that Kittlaus made the move—which was both amicable and planned for ahead of time—due to his family still residing in Chicago, a desire to take some time off, and an interest in new entrepreneurial ideas. Kittlaus led Apple’s internal speech recognition efforts since the company acquired Siri in April 2010, and had served as Siri’s CEO since 2007. The report claims that other key executives from Siri are expected to remain with Apple.

iPod announced 10 years ago today

Ten years ago today, Apple announced the original iPod, an early step in the computer maker’s evolution into a consumer electronics giant. Designed solely to store and play music, the first iPod was distinguished by its unusually small size for a then-considerable 5 Gigabytes of storage space, enough to hold roughly 1,000 songs. With a clear and white plastic face and a mirror-polished stainless steel back, the iPod used a physically moving Scroll Wheel and four physical buttons to navigate black text menus on a white backlit screen.

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At the time of its introduction, the original $399 iPod was embraced by some Apple Macintosh computer fans, but derided by others—and much of the existing PC marketplace—as overpriced and lacking in features. iLounge’s founder Dennis Lloyd immediately fell in love with the minimalist design and created this site to gather information about it, launching around the iPod’s November 10, 2001 release date. By the end of its first year, only 125,000 iPods had been sold, but the numbers began to climb the next year as PC-compatible iPods were released, and then jumped considerably in 2003 with the introduction of more affordable, USB-compatible models with Dock Connectors. The iPod family continued to grow in popularity and market dominance as Apple added color screens with support for photos, videos, games, and apps, combined with lowered prices, and the evolution of the original Scroll Wheel into various types of touch interfaces.

 

This video shows the unveiling of the iPod at Apple’s headquarters on October 23, 2001. No one, including then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs, had any idea just how successful the iPod would eventually become. As of today, over 300 million iPods have been sold. The DNA of the iPod resulted in the iPhone, Apple TV, and iPad, while influencing the design of Apple’s Mac hardware and software. Elegance and simplicity were taken to new levels in the Apple products that followed the original iPod, leading to a widespread perception that Apple’s offerings were uniquely capable of catering to users of any age and skill level. The iPod’s “halo effect” led Apple to change its name from Apple Computer to Apple Inc., reflecting its shift into consumer electronics, and eventually to Apple’s valuation as one of the largest companies in the world. Yet the iPod family has recently received comparatively modest attention from Apple as the iPhone, iPad, and Mac have continued to surge in sales; even today’s anniversary has proceeded without a mention on the forward-looking company’s web site.

If you’re reading this or listening to something on an Apple device right now, there’s a pretty good chance that the iPod’s success is at least partially responsible for that. And we wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for the little music player that could. Happy 10th anniversary, iPod!

Steve Jobs biography leaks, quotes appear online [Updated]

As is common with many literary releases, several copies of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ authorized biography—Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson—have leaked out prior to the book’s official launch on Monday. As expected, early reports of the book have found a number of substantial, interesting quotes and anecdotes within. As it is likely that more stories related to content within the book will be forthcoming over the next several days, we are creating this story as a catch-all for information from the book, and will update it as appropriate when new information emerges.

According to The Associated Press, which purchased a copy of the book yesterday, Jobs considered Google’s copying of iPhone features for its Android OS to be equal to “grand theft.” “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.” He also told then Google CEO Eric Schmidt in a subsequent meeting, “I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”

The same report notes that Jobs called Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design Jonathan Ive his “spiritual partner” at Apple, and told Isaacson that Ive had “more operation power” at Apple than anyone besides Jobs himself, and that no one in the company can tell him what to do, which, Jobs says, is “the way I set it up.”

The New York Times, which also obtained a copy of the book ahead of its release, reports that Jobs spent the first months after he was diagnosed with cancer trying fruit juices, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and other treatments in an effort to avoid surgery, a decision that infuriated family and friends. “The big thing was that he really was not ready to open his body,” Jobs’ wife Laurene Powell said. “It’s hard to push someone to do that.” When Jobs did decide on medical treatment, he did so with his trademark passion, studying and deciding on each treatment, and becoming one of only 20 people in the world to have all the genes of his cancer tumor and his normal DNA sequenced—at a price of $100,000—so as to allow doctors to tailor and target the drugs he was prescribed. Jobs later told Isaacson that he would either be one of the first “to outrun a cancer like this” or be among the last “to die from it.”

The Huffington Post also obtained a copy of the book, and recounts Jobs’ interactions with current President of the United States Barack Obama. “You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” he told Obama at the start of a meeting between the two men in fall 2010. Jobs told Obama that the administration needed to be more business-friendly, citing “regulations and unnecessary costs” which make it more difficult to do business in the U.S. as opposed to foreign countries such as China. Jobs later offered to help create Obama’s political ads for his 2012 reelection campaign, telling Isaacson that he wanted to do for Obama what the “morning in America” advertisements had done for former President Ronald Reagan during his reelection campaign of 1984.

Jobs is also said to have had lingering doubts about his contemporary Bill Gates. While Gates described Jobs as “fundamentally odd” and “weirdly flawed as a human being,” Jobs said that Gates would be “a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger,” adding that “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”

Update: According to The Washington Post, which reviewed the biography, Steve Jobs suggested to Isaacson that he had been working on an Apple-branded television set. “He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant,” Isaacson wrote in the book. “‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’” While it is unclear whether such a device would be dependent on a currently unannounced streaming service or current a la carte programming as offered on iTunes, rumors of such a set have persisted for years, and would be an obvious extension of Apple’s current Apple TV set-top box.

We will update this story with further details as they become available.

Apple airs first iPhone 4S TV spot

Apple has aired its first TV commercial for the iPhone 4S. The new 30-second spot focuses on the iPhone 4S’ Siri virtual assistant, and shows a variety of people interacting with Siri, making statements such as “we have a flat tire” or “I’m locked out,” asking it to make meetings, bring up directions, send a text, make a reminder, or play music, asking it about the weather, or asking general questions. At the end, voiceover says, “Say hello to the most amazing iPhone yet” while the iPhone 4S and Apple logos appear onscreen. The ad is available for viewing now on Apple’s website.

Apple announces iOS 5 Tech Talk Word Tour

Apple has announced plans to hold an iOS 5 Tech Talk World Tour, offering developers around the world a chance to learn more about Apple’s latest mobile operating system. According to Apple’s developer Tech Talk page, the tour will hit nine cities—Berlin, London, Rome, Beijing, Seoul, São Paolo, New York City, Seattle, and Austin—with dates ranging from November 2, 2011 to January 23, 2012. “We’re taking iOS 5 on a world tour and we want you to come along for the ride,” the page reads. “Learn from Apple experts as you take your apps to the next level with the exciting new technologies in iOS.” The talks will be for all registered iOS developers, however, space is limited, and priority will be given to developers who already have an app available on the App Store. For more information, such as specific dates and talk agendas, see Apple’s website.

Samsung overtakes Apple for Q3 smartphone lead

Samsung has overtaken Apple for the title of world’s largest smartphone manufacturer in Q3, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the situation, the Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung shipped more than 20 million smartphones in the quarter ending September 30, substantially more than Apple, which revealed earlier this week that it sold over 17 million iPhones in the quarter ending Sept. 24. Apple stated that handset sales slowed noticeably over the second half of the period due to the intensification of speculation and rumors surrounding the then-unannounced iPhone 4S. Both companies surpassed former market leader Nokia, which shipped 16.8 million smartphones during the period.

Apple adds iTunes Match setting to iOS 5 ahead of launch

Apple has added a toggle for turning iTunes Match on and off to the Music section of iOS 5’s Settings app, suggesting an imminent launch for the service. 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. The appearance of the toggle — which currently activates an alert stating that “You are not currently subscribed to iTunes Match. Use iTunes on your computer to subscribe” — has some suggesting that the service may launch ahead of Apple’s “end of October” estimate, however, the service does require iTunes 10.5.1, which is currently in developer beta and not available to the public at large. [via Mac Rumors]

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