Craig Rothwell, inventor of the iControlPad peripheral for jailbroken iPhones, has taken issue with a recently-published Apple patent application that appears to describe a device much like his own. Entitled “Accessory For Playing Games With A Portable Electronic Device,” the application describes a controller-like accessory—with standard game controller buttons—with a recess in the center into which a user can place a touchscreen gaming device. Variations on the design include one with a rotating dock connector for connection to the device, one which connects wirelessly, and one that offers wireless connectivity to other devices.
In a post titled “An extremely sinister development,” Rothwell said he and his colleagues “were very very surprised to see that Apple have [sic] allegedly filed a patent for our original iControlPad design some 6 months after we revealed it,” promising to give “More updates once we get a more clear picture of what the h—- is going on.” Development on the iControlPad dates back to May 2008, while Apple’s application was filed in September 2008. [via Pocket Gamer]
- April 2, 2010
Apple may have acquired ARM processor development company Intrinsity. Citing several LinkedIn profiles of former Intrinsity employees, as well as a separate report that the company had been sold, Mac Rumors reports that 16 former Intrinsity employees are now listing Apple as their current employer, several with a job change date of April 2010. According to the report, Intrinsity was gaining attention for its efforts to speed up ARM CPU designs, including working with Samsung to introduce the 1GHz Hummingbird processor last July. It remains possible that Apple has also simply recruited some of the company’s key talent, but given prior rumors of the company’s sale, it seems unlikely; Apple uses ARM-based processors in the iPhone and iPod touch, and the company’s new A4 processor that powers the iPad is believed to be based on ARM technology, as well.
Apple has updated its iTunes Store Terms & Conditions ahead of the iPad’s launch, revealing a few minor details about the device’s functionality. Most notably, and despite reports indicating that the formats were developed with the iPad in mind, the initial iPad software will not offer support for iTunes Extras or iTunes LP content. The new terms state, “iTunes LP and iTunes Extras Products are usable only on computers with iTunes 9 or higher and Apple TV with software version 3.0 or higher,” adding that if the user purchases a album or movie that includes such content, it won’t be downloaded to the iPad, but instead will be placed in the user’s download queue for later downloading via iTunes. In addition, the terms also state that movies rented using the iPad may not be moved from the device, mirroring the behavior of movies rented on the Apple TV.
A select group of independent Apple Specialist retailers will be offering the iPad beginning this Saturday, according to an AppleInsider report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report states that the selected retailers were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being allowed into the program, meaning they couldn’t pre-advertise the availability of the iPad or any of its accessories. Specific locations that will be offering the iPad are currently unknown; Apple in a recent announcement mentioned only its own stores and “most” Best Buy locations as launch retailers, although it did say that the iPad would be sold though “select Apple Authorized Resellers and campus bookstores” without indicating when those locations would begin sales.
iPad applications have begun to appear in the App Store in advance of Saturday’s launch of the iPad. Although no specific front-page promotions or categories are yet appearing, searches on the App Store are showing results in separate categories for “Apps” and “iPad Apps.” Titles that have already begun to appear include iPad versions of such popular games as Gameloft’s N.O.V.A. HD, Firemint’s Real Racing HD, and 2K Games’ Civlization Revolution for iPad. Popular apps include NewsGator’s NetNewsWire for iPad, Culture Code’s Things for iPad and The Iconfactory’s Twitterrific for iPad. Apple’s own iWork applications, including Keynote are also now available. iPad versions of prior games generally appear to consume between 50% and 100% more storage capacity than their predecessors, though the exact amount varies from title to title, and some have much smaller size differences. Prices for iPad apps are often higher than for their iPhone/iPod touch counterparts, with certain EA titles going for $10 to $15 each, and many other updated games now selling in the $5 to $10 range.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has announced that it is launching an investigation into whether HTC is guilty of patent infringement, as Apple claims. According to the announcement, the products being investigated “relate to hardware and software used in mobile communication devices, including but not limited to cellular phones and smartphones.” Apple filed a complaintand an accompanying lawsuit against HTC in early March, claiming infringement on “20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.” HTC later released a statement saying it disagreed with Apple actions and that it would “fully defend itself.”
Apple has posted a list of major websites which have prepared themselves for the iPad. Among the sites listed are CNN, Reuters, The New York Times, Vimeo, Time, Major League Baseball, The White House, Virgin America, Sports Illustrated, Flickr, People Magazine, and TED. Repeatedly, the small descriptions for each site mention HTML5 video players, possibly in an effort to quell fears that the device’s lack of Flash support will hinder users’ ability to fully experience websites. Also appearing on the page is a link to submit sites that are “taking advantage of the latest web standards,” as well as a link to an Apple developer technical note explaining how to prepare web content for iPad.
Apple has posted its latest iPhone 3GS television commercial online. Entitled “Commute,” the ad continues Apple’s recent trend of iPhone advertisements that are more testimonial in nature, and features a male narrator explaining how he missed his train, was able to check on the next one from the phone, received a phone call asking about a document that he was able to retrieve and email while on the call, and spent the rest of his commute watching streaming video. The new TV ad is available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
Apple has released iTunes 9.1, the latest update to its digital media management software. As previously reported, the update brings compatibility with the iPad, as well as the ability to “organize and sync books you’ve downloaded from iBooks on iPad or added to your iTunes library,” and the ability to “rename, rearrange, or remove Genius Mixes.” iTunes 9.1 is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility and as direct download from itunes.com.
Update: Upon installation, iLounge has confirmed that iTunes 9.1 references what appears to be an iPad-optimized version of its Remote application; it is possible, but unlikely, that this is simply to account for iPads running the current iPhone and iPod touch build of the app. The new version of iTunes is also able to import free ePub books, which now appear with Audiobooks and purchased books in a “Books” heading within the iTunes Library, which is then subdivided to count the number of titles in audio and book formats separately. Users are able to manually add cover art to ePub titles as they can with music albums, and the info window for books offers a VoiceOver pane where users can set the VoiceOver language on a per-title basis.
Apple has launched a new App Store Facebook page. Developed by social media company Virtue, the new page offers a “Featured” tab of App Store highlights, Top Charts listing the most-downloaded apps, a “Games” tab to showcase featured titles and top-selling games, and a “Search and Share” tab that lets users search for apps—using the App Store API—and share them with their Facebook friends via Wall posts. In addition, each app listing includes a “Get App” button, which will open the app’s iTunes Preview page, and, if iTunes is installed, take the user straight to the related App Store listing. The new App Store Facebook page can be accessed from facebok.com/AppStore. [via Mashable]
Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics has filed a patent infringement complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The AFP reports that the complaint alleges that Apple is violating Elan’s patents related to touch-sensitive input devices with multi-touch capabilities, specifically with the iPhone, iPod touch, MacBook laptops, the Magic Mouse, and the iPad. “We have taken the step of filing the ITC complaint as a continuation of our efforts to enforce our patent rights against Apple’s ongoing infringement,” Elan said in a statement. “A proceeding in the ITC offers a quick and effective way for Elan to enforce its patent.” Elan requesting that the ITC bar Apple from importing the products into the United States, and prevent it from selling any of the products in the United States that it has already imported. Elan filed a lawsuit against Apple in April of 2009 over the same alleged infringement. [via MDN]
Apple has released its GM, or Gold Master, version of the iPhone SDK 3.2 for iPad. According to an email sent out to registered iPhone developers, all iPad apps submitted going forward must be built and tested using this release. The email reads, “[a]ll members of the iPhone Developer Program can submit their iPad apps to iTunes Connect for review and approval. If you did not submit your app during the initial review period, but upload it by March 31, it will be reviewed but may not make the grand opening of the iPad App Store.” Apple’s “initial review period” began on March 19 and ended March 27; applications submitted during that timeframe are eligible for the grand opening, but must be re-submitted using this latest SDK release for final approval. The iPhone OS SDK 3.2 GM for iPad is available now to registered iPhone developers through the iPhone Dev Center.
According to the iPad end-user software licensing agreement posted online, iPad users will receive free software updates from Apple, up to and including the first major release, and then have to pay for upgrades afterwards. This particular portion of the agreement, published online by Mac Rumors, states: “Apple will provide you any iPad OS software updates that it may release from time to time, up to and including the next major iPad OS software release following the version of iPad OS software that originally shipped from Apple on your iPad, for free. For example, if your iPad originally shipped with iPad 3.x software, Apple would provide you with any iPad OS software updates it might release up to and including the iPad 4.x software release. Such updates and releases may not necessarily include all of the new software features that Apple releases for newer iPad models.” Currently, iPhone owners are provided free software updates for at least the first two years of the device’s life, while iPod touch owners are normally charged for major updates. New iPhones and iPod touch units, however, have typically debuted with either a new or very recent version of iPhone OS installed, whereas the iPad will ship with the nine-month old iPhone OS 3.x software, with the possibility of iPhone OS 4.0 being released later this year.
- March 30, 2010
Tony Fadell, former senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division, current advisor to the CEO, “father of the iPod,” and an executive involved in the development of the iPhone, is leaving the company, according to a New York Times report. Fadell stepped down from his position as senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division in November 2008 for personal reasons, and was replaced by Mark Papermaster, a former IBM executive, who took on the role of senior vice president of Devices Hardware Engineering; Fadell’s wife Danielle Lambert, former Apple vice president of Human Resources, also left in November 2008. While Fadell declined to talk about Apple with the NYT, he did say that his primary focus going forward would be “helping the environment by working with consumer green-tech companies.” “I’m determined to tell my kids and grandkids amazing stories beyond my iPod and iPhone ones,” he said.
Apple has posted a number of iPad Guided Tour videos on its website. Each one is several minutes long, and explains how to use one of the device’s applications. Individual tours are available for Safari, Mail, Photos, Videos, YouTube, iPod, iTunes, iBooks, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. Apple’s iPad Guided Tour videos are available for viewing now on the company’s website.
Apple today announced that it will be opening all 221 of its U.S. retail stores at 9 a.m. local time on Saturday for the iPad launch. In addition to Apple retail stores, the company notes that the device will also be available at “most” Best Buy stores on launch day. Apple’s retail stores will offer a free Personal Setup service to every iPad customer, and will also be hosting special iPad workshops to help customers learn more about the device. While the iPad will initially only be available from Apple—both online and retail—and retail Best Buy stores, the device will eventually be sold at select Apple Authorized Resellers and campus bookstores, as well. “iPad connects users with their apps and content in a far more intimate and fun way than ever before,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait for users to get their hands and fingers on it this weekend.”
Fujitsu has transferred the rights to the iPad trademark in the U.S. to Apple ahead of the device’s launch later this week. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Fujitsu agreed last week to assign all rights to the iPad name to Apple beginning on March 17. Fujitsu had originally registered the iPad name in 2003 in connection to a handheld scanner launched by its U.S. subsidiary the year before that was used by retail store clerks for inventory management and other business activities. Details of the agreement between the two companies are not known, however, Fujitsu appears to have changed its stance on the matter since the iPad unveiling; a company representative said the day after Apple’s iPad event that “It’s our understanding that the name is ours,” adding that “mobile is a keyword for Fujitsu’s iPad, too.”
Apple has updated its website to indicate that all new iPad pre-orders will ship on April 12, and has also removed the option of reserving an iPad for in-store pickup on April 3, suggesting the company has sold through its initial allotment of iPad units. Those who pre-ordered earlier and received an e-mail stating that their iPad would arrive on April 3rd should still receive their units on launch day. Although Apple has closed iPad reservations for pickup at an Apple retail store on April 3rd, it remains unclear as to whether the company will have any extra stock on hand to sell to customers who didn’t make a reservation, as the company’s iPad page currently states that customers can “buy iPad at [their] favorite Apple Retail Store starting April 3.” All Wi-Fi + 3G models of iPad are still listed as shipping in “late April.”
A new Apple job listing suggests the company is planning to include Long Term Evolution (LTE) “4G” cellular radio technology in future devices, such as the iPhone and possibly iPad. The listing for a “Cellular Technology Software Manager” calls for “[e]xpert knowledge of one or multiple cellular technologies: WCDMA/UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, LTE etc.” Applicants must also “understand the development cycle of phone, IOT, and certification process and carrier approval process.” Both AT&T and Verizon have announced plans to move to LTE networks over the coming years, with Verizon expected to begin its rollout later this year and AT&T expected to begin deployment in 2011. [via Engadget]
- March 25, 2010
Combined with the prior departure of Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt last year, the recent death of Apple director Jerome York has left the company with one of the smallest boards of directors of any Fortune 500 company, the Wall Street Journal reports. Following York’s passing, Apple’s board now has only six members, including CEO Steve Jobs, who is described as a dominating force in the group. Citing unnamed corporate board experts, the report states that the shrinkage is likely to result in directors having to perform more duties than they can handle, and also causes problems for the board’s audit committee, which Apple’s own rules state must have at least three members.
The audit committee was comprised of York, former Intuit Inc. CEO William Campbell and former Genentech Inc. CEO Arthur Levinson. While the company could ask one of its other three independent directors to fill the gap, such a move is unlikely, the Journal says, based on required financial expertise absent from these individuals. According to the report, shareholders have long wanted Apple’s directors to be more independent of Jobs, a move which would help the board challenge the CEO when necessary. A smaller board, packed with Jobs admirers, is considered less likely to expand the company’s options.
Roderick Hills, a former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, said York’s successor should have “sufficient stature and importance to take the CEO on,” adding that the next audit committee chairman should be ready to resign if things aren’t done correctly; York himself said in an interview before his death that he wished he had resigned after learning about the company’s prior concealment of Jobs’ health concerns.