In the process of updating its website to include further details of the iPad, Apple has quietly provided some new information on the differences between iPhone OS 3.1.x, which currently runs on iPhone and iPod touch units, and iPhone OS 3.2, which will run on the iPad. Notably, the Maps application on the iPad will support Google Maps’ “Terrain” view, which is currently unavailable on the iPhone and iPod touch. The iPod application‘s “Now Playing” screen has also received a makeover, with a large volume slider in the top bar, alongside track information and back/forward/play/pause controls; back, Genius, and album listing/artwork buttons appear in a bar at the bottom, and a white/gray song progress bar appears directly beneath the top bar, offering repeat and shuffle buttons at either end. Thankfully, support for MobileMe’s Find My iPhone feature has been carried over to the iPad, so that users will be able to locate their misplaced/stolen units via Apple’s online me.com portal. The YouTube application will support sharing of videos via Facebook, and, according to the Tech Specs page, the Videos app will support AVI videos in MJPEG format, most likely to offer playback of videos from digital cameras. Finally, the switch on the right side of the iPad above the volume buttons, previously believed to be a ring/silent switch like that found on the iPhone, has been changed to a screen rotation lock switch, allowing users to disable the automatic screen rotation feature for using the device in troublesome positions.
According to a new page on Apple’s website devoted to the new iBooks application for the iPad, iBooks will support non-DRM ePub books not downloaded from the iBookstore. According to the text, “you can add free ePub titles to iTunes and sync them to the iBooks app on your iPad.” In addition, iBooks also supports Apple’s VoiceOver technology. “iBooks works with VoiceOver, the screen reader in iPad, so it can read you the contents of any page,” the site says. Finally, the app will offer the ability to tap and hold on any word to look it up in the iPad’s built-in dictionary, in Wikipedia, or search for it within the book or on the web. iBooks will be a free download for iPad users from the App Store.
Apple has added a new webpage to its iPad section explaining the details of the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G’s U.S. service setup and activation process. According to the page, “if you choose the 250MB plan, you’ll receive onscreen messages as you get close to your monthly data limit so you can decide whether to turn off 3G or upgrade to the unlimited plan,” later revealed to be three alerts, arriving when the user reaches 20 percent, 10 percent, and zero percent of their allotted data. The page also reiterates that users who need 3G service temporarily, such as on a business trip or vacation, can sign up for a month of service, and cancel when they return home. All account management, including activation, upgrading of plans, and cancellation can be handled directly on the iPad; Apple plans to ship the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G in “late April.”
Alongside pre-orders of the iPad, Apple has begun accepting pre-orders for its initial range of iPad accessories. Apple’s iPad Case, priced at $39, the iPad Dock, which is priced at $29, and the iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter, also priced at $29, are expected to ship April 3, the same day as the first Wi-Fi-only iPads. The iPad Keyboard Dock, which sells for $69, is expected to ship in mid-April, while the iPad 10W USB Power Adapter, priced at $29, is scheduled to ship in late April. In addition, the AppleCare Protection Plan for iPad was also available, extending the warranty and complimentary telephone support coverage to two years for $99. Curiously, no pre-orders are yet being taken for the iPad Camera Connection Kit, as it was not listed anywhere in the store, and while the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard is listed alongside these other accessories, no pre-order is necessary, as it is already widely available.
Apple has begun to accept iPad pre-orders, and details on the process are now available. For customers ordering through the online store for home delivery, the limit on Wi-Fi-only iPad pre-orders is two per person, while those wishing to reserve a Wi-Fi-only iPad for pick up at an Apple retail store—no reservations are being taken for Wi-Fi + 3G models—are limited to one per customer. The ordering page notes that customers pre-ordering a Wi-Fi-only model for delivery on launch day must live in an area where Saturday Delivery is available; those outside such areas will receive their iPad units on Monday, April 5.
Apple has confirmed that it will begin accepting online pre-orders for the iPad at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time/8:30 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow, TUAW reports. According to Apple’s prior announcement, U.S. customers will be able to pre-order both the Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi + 3G models of the device, or reserve a Wi-Fi-only model for pick up at an Apple retail store. Apple will officially launch the Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad in the U.S. on Saturday, April 3, with Wi-Fi + 3G models expected to ship in late April.
iPhone OS 4.0, the next major revision to the software that powers the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, will offer support for multitasking, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources “with a proven track record” in predicting Apple’s technical advancements, AppleInsider reports that iPhone OS 4.0, expected this summer, will include a “full-on solution” for multitasking, allowing third-party applications downloaded from the App Store to run in the background. According to the same sources, the software will include a multitasking manager built on interface technology already bundled with Apple’s Mac OS X operating system. Finally, the report states that the software is under development and has quite a “way to go” before its ready for release; no further specifics were given.
According to the latest data from comScore, the iPhone saw a very small gain in U.S. smartphone market share from the three months ending in October 2009 to the three months ending in January 2010. The report shows that Apple’s average U.S. smartphone platform market share rose from 24.8% in the quarter ending in Oct. to 25.1% in the three months ending in January, a gain of only 0.3%, leaving Apple in second place. Over the same period, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion saw market share gains of 1.7%, giving it 43% of the market, while Google’s Android platform market share more than doubled, rising 4.3% to grab 7.1% of the market. Both third-place Microsoft and fifth-place Palm saw losses during the same period, of 4% and 2.1%, respectively. The report ranked smartphone operating system platforms in the U.S. according to their share of current mobile subscribers age 13 and older.
Apple’s relatively new iTunes LP digital album format wasn’t originally proposed by the company, and has yet to significantly boost album sales, according to a new report. Citing anonymous industry sources, GigaOM reports that the format was in fact a result of the same negotiations between Apple and the major music labels that led to DRM-free songs and flexible pricing on the iTunes Store; a “concession” from Apple to make a gesture in favor of album sales as customers increasingly show interest in digital singles. According to the report, Apple subsidized the initial lineup of iTunes LP offerings, spending as much as $60,000 a piece to have the necessary media created by a third-party developer. The new format has failed to have any major impact on record sales, the report states, although there are less than 50 albums available in the format on the iTunes Store. One person involved in a prior iTunes LP project said “if it costs $50,000 or $60,000, we’re not going to do it again,” adding that Apple’s extra promotion of the album in conjunction with iTunes LP did help sales. Apple introduced the iTunes LP format in September 2009 alongside a new version of iTunes and a revamped interface for the iTunes Store.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has acquired a recent copy of Apple’s iPhone Developer Program License Agreement (PDF Link) and posted it online. Previously seen only by those applying to be a licensed iPhone developer, the EFF used the Freedom of Information Act to ask NASA, which distributes a free NASA App through the App Store, for a copy. Contained within the agreement is a section prohibiting developers from making any “public statements” about the terms of the agreement, as well as sections prohibiting reverse engineering of the iPhone OS, prohibiting developers from contributing to the development of jailbreaking and or unlocking solutions, and a clause saying that Apple can “revoke the digital certificate of [an application] at any time,” a feature of the iPhone OS that Apple has yet to invoke, but keeps available as a backup plan should malicious software manage to find its way onto the App Store and users’ iPhones and iPod touches.
Apple has started blocking so-called “cookie-cutter” basic applications from the App Store, according to a new report. Citing developer comments, TechCrunch reports that Apple is cracking down on applications that function as little more than glorified RSS feeds or business cards, many of which have traditionally been produced by app-building services. One such service, Appmakr, said Apple has reached out to provide suggestions which could be used to improve the service. The company now plans to add more advanced features to the apps that it builds, including push notifications, in-app purchases, offline access, and landscape viewing modes. Other services, according to anonymous developer comments, are not receiving as much help from Apple on improving their products; TechCrunch suggests these are likely the services offering only the most basic of app templates. Notably, Apple does not appear to be going through the store and removing currently available applications that would not be approved under this new policy, as it did with a large number of “overtly sexual” applications last month.
A team of Apple executives is expected to arrive in the United Kingdom this week for discussions with mobile operators about the iPad. The Sunday Times reports that Apple is expected to sign deals with more than one mobile operator, instead of going with a single provider approach. All three current UK iPhone carriers—O2, Orange, and Vodafone—are said to be anxious to make a deal, due to the positive buzz around the product and the potential data revenues it could produce. Citing anonymous sources, the report states that preliminary discussions about the iPad have already taken place between Apple and the carriers, but pricing details have yet to be worked out. Notably, the report also claims that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is not expected to take part in the discussions, which are scheduled to run into next week. Apple has announced that it will launch both the Wi-Fi and 3G models of the iPad in the UK in late April.
Apple has aired its first television commercial for the iPad, during the broadcast of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. The 30-second spot shows the iPad in use, and highlights many of the device’s built-in applications, including Photos, Maps, iTunes, iPod, Safari, Calendar, and Mail, along with iBooks, the iBookstore, and Pages. The ad finishes by showing the device’s launch date followed by the iPad name; the spot also features the song “There Goes My Love” by The Blue Van throughout. Notably, Apple used the same event—the Academy Awards—to air its first iPhone television commercial. Apple’s new iPad commercial is now available for viewing on Apple’s website.
According to data from the latest ChangeWave survey, respondents looking to purchase an e-Reader in the next 90 days are more likely to buy an iPad than an Amazon Kindle. Specifically, 40% of those respondents said they would purchase an iPad, compared to 28% for the Amazon Kindle, 6% for the Barnes & Noble Nook, and only 1% who said they planned to purchase a Sony Reader. Among current e-Reader owners, 27% said they would have purchased an iPad instead of their current e-Reader had it been available at the time, compared to 45% who would have still purchased their current e-Reader, and 30% of respondents who didn’t know. The survey also asked likely iPad buyers about the timing of their purchase. 6% said they expected to purchase an iPad within a week of its release, 10% said they would likely purchase one 2-4 weeks after its release, 20% said they would likely buy an iPad 2-3 months after its release, and 23% said they thought they would purchase one 4-6 months after its release. Another 19% said they expected to purchase an iPad 7-12 months after its release, while only 8% said they expected to wait for more than a year before purchasing an iPad. ChangeWave’s survey consisted of 3,171 consumers, and was conducted from Feb 1-10, 2010.
- March 5, 2010
A newly-published Apple patent application suggests the company is looking at offering ad-supported video content on its devices. Titled “System and Method for Video Insertion Into Media Stream or File,” the patent describes a system by which video files, such as TV shows, would feature built-in segments, that could be filled with various forms of advertising. According to the patent, segments past the next scheduled ad break could be locked until the user watches the set of ads related to that segment; the ads could be bundled separately from the media itself, and could be removed from the content stream upon reaching a set expiration date. 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 Patently Apple]
An iTunes dialog box spotted by iPhone and Mac developer Fraser Speirs suggests Apple may be considering implementation of upgrade pricing in the App Store. The dialog box carries the heading “You do not qualify for this price,” going on to explain that “[t]his discounted price is only available to customers who own a previous version of this item. To purchase this item at full price, click OK.” Curiously, no “OK” button is offered, instead users have a choice between “Cancel” and “Buy.” The ability to offer current users upgraded software at a discount has been a feature long requested by iPhone developers; Apple has yet to officially announce such a feature.
Update: According to a Mac Rumors forum thread, the dialog box has in fact been in use for some time, and may be presented to users who attempt to re-download or update an application while logged into a different iTunes account than the one used to purchase the application originally.
- March 4, 2010
For the third year in a row, Apple has been ranked as the “World’s Most Admired Company” by Fortune. The magazine describes Apple as the company that “changed the way we do everything from buy music to design products to engage with the world around us. Its track record for innovation and fierce consumer loyalty translates into tremendous respect across business’ highest ranks.” A quote from BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer is also included, stating, “The whole world held its breath before the iPad was announced. That’s brand management at its very best.” Joining Apple in Fortune’s top five are Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson, and Amazon. Fortune’s rankings are based on the results of a survey conducted among 4,170 executives, directors, and securities analysts, who were asked to list the 10 companies they admired most.
A federal judge in Delaware has signed an order halting litigation between Nokia and Apple over alleged patent infringement pending resolution of the companies’ respective claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC announced in January that it would investigate Nokia’s claims of patent infringement against Apple, and said it would consider Apple’s claims against Nokia in February. The Associated Press reports that the judge’s covers both Nokia’s lawsuit against Apple, filed in October 2009, and Apple’s countersuit against Nokia; it is unknown how long it will take the ITC to come to a judgement in the case.
Apple has pulled several Wi-Fi detection applications from the App Store, according to a Register report. The reports states that Apple has pulled the apps, which actively scanned for nearby available Wi-Fi networks, because they used a “private framework.” “We received a very unfortunate email today from Apple stating that WiFi Where has been removed from sale on the App Store for using private frameworks to access wireless information,” said one developer, who noted that Apple has declined to explain exactly what framework it is referencing. Users can still scan for nearby Wi-Fi networks using the Wi-Fi area of the iPhone’s and iPod touch’s Settings app; several Wi-Fi locating applications that rely on Location data and a database of hotspots also remain available.
Apple has been in talks with some of the major film studios recently about enabling iTunes users to store their content on Apple-controlled servers, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the discussions, Cnet reports that the service would be offered alongside similar cloud-based offerings for TV shows and music, and that Apple’s plan would involve having users access video from various Internet-connected devices, including, most prominently, the iPad. “Basically, they want to eliminate the hard drive,” one source said. The report notes that there is some indication consumers purchasing large amounts of media, including music, videos, and applications, are beginning to max out their hard drives, leading to a possible fall in sales due to the lack of available storage. Notably, the movie studios are said to be concerned about ensuring that purchased media is accessible from a number of devices, including those not made by Apple; this despite the fact that the DRM placed on the companies’ current iTunes Store offerings prohibits them from being played on any non-Apple device.