Apple has released iBooks 1.1.1, the latest version of its e-book reading application for the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad. According to Apple, the new version includes the ability to double-tap images to view more detail, support for audio and video within books, performance improvements for PDF reading, fixes for an issue that caused some book downloads not to complete, and other stability and performance improvements. iBooks 1.1.1 is available now from the App Store.
Apple has released iTunes version 9.2.1, the latest update to its media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes version 9.2.1 disables older versions of certain incompatible third-party plug-ins, addresses issues concerning drag-and-drop, performance when first syncing some devices, upgrading to iOS 4 on an iPhone or iPod touch with encrypted back-ups, and “other issues” impacting stability and performance. iTunes 9.2.1 is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility or as a direct download from apple.com/itunes.
Apple has pulled its remaining stock of iPhone 4 Bumper cases from its retail and online Stores ahead of its free giveaway. A check with an Ohio-based retail store, as well as with Apple’s online store, shows no availability of the Apple-branded cases, and a retail store representative confirmed with iLounge that the cases had been pulled due to the giveaway. Apple announced on Friday that it would be offering a free Bumper or other, yet-to-be-determined case to all current iPhone 4 users and those who purchase the handset by September 30 due to complaints over the iPhone 4’s antenna issues.
Apple has announced that the iPad will launch in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore this Friday, July 23. Both iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available at yet to be determined prices. The iPad is currently available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US, and Apple claims it will roll out the device to “many more countries” later this year.
Apple has posted a QuickTime video stream of its iPhone 4 press conference on its website. During the roughly hour-long event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave a presentation explaining Apple’s view of the antenna issues, and promised free cases to all current iPhone 4 users and all those who will purchase the device by September 30. Notably missing from the video stream is the question and answer session held directly following the presentation, a brief overview of which can be found here. In addition, the company has posted a pair of new webpages examining smartphone antenna performance and comparing that of the iPhone 4 to the BlackBerry Bold, HTC Droid Eris, Samsung Omnia II, and iPhone 3GS, and highlighting the company’s antenna design and testing labs.
Apple today revealed that it will launch the iPhone 4 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland on July 30. Notably, the list of countries does not include South Korea, which was previously scheduled to receive the phone at the same time; no reason was given for the delay. In addition, Apple said that white models of the iPhone 4 will be available in late July, but did not offer an exact date for availability, or reveal whether online pre-orders would be available.
During today’s iPhone 4 press conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that due to complaints over the iPhone 4’s antenna issue, Apple will be offering a free case to all customers who purchase an iPhone 4 by September 30. According to Jobs, users will be able to apply for the free case on Apple’s website late next week, and the case will be shipped to them free of charge. Due to the low number of Bumper cases available, Apple also said it will be offering users a choice of cases beyond the Bumpers, but did not specify which cases would be eligible. For iPhone 4 users who have already purchased a Bumper case, Apple will be offering refunds, but will not be refunding those who purchased third-party cases.
Apple’s short-notice press conference regarding the iPhone 4 will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Although no one is certain what the company may say, earlier reports have indicated that the company is unlikely to issue a recall of current iPhone 4 units, and may well claim that the handset’s reception problems can be fixed via a software update. Also unknown is whether or not the company will make any mention of the ongoing proximity sensor issue reported by some users. We will be updating this story throughout the event as information becomes available.
Apple has posted its iOS Software Development Kit (SDK) 4.0.1, bringing with it compatibility with the latest iOS software releases. Notably, Apple is warning developers that if they have updated their iPhones to iOS 4.0.1 or their iPads to iOS 3.2.1 they will need to download and install the new SDK to continue development. Unlike the iOS 4.1 beta and accompanying SDK released yesterday, iOS SDK 4.0.1 is available to all registered developers, and not just those who have paid Apple’s $99 annual fee to enroll in the iPhone Developer Program. Apple’s iOS SDK 4.0.1 is available now as a free download from the iPhone Dev Center.
Alongside iOS 4.0.1 for the iPhone, Apple today also released the iOS 3.2.1 Software Update for the iPad. According to Apple’s release notes, the update brings improved Wi-Fi connectivity, fixes for issues that could prevent copy and paste of single-page PDF documents in Mail and cause video playback to freeze, improved reliability of video-out when using the iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter, and adds Bing as an option for Safari’s search field. The iOS 3.2.1 Software Update for the iPad is available now for both iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G models via the Update feature in iTunes.
Apple has released iOS 4.0.1 Software Update for iPhone, the first update to the iOS since the release of 4.0 on June 21. According to Apple’s release notes, the 4.0.1 Software Update “improves the formula to determine how many bars of signal strength to display.” Apple promised this fix in a press release earlier this month; it remains to be seen whether it also addresses the ongoing proximity sensor issue, as well. The iOS 4.0.1 Software Update for iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4 is available now via the Update feature in iTunes.
A newly published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a new format Dock Connector that would allow device docking in multiple orientations. Entitled “Methods and Apparatuses For Docking a Portable Electronic Device That Has a Planar Like Configuration and That Operates in Multiple Orientations,” the patent describes a docking system that, like current Apple Docks, offers both power and data to the connected device, either via flush contacts that physically touch similar contacts on the dock itself, or via inductive coils that could be concealed within the device’s body. As AppleInsider notes, the patent also covers less progressive docking ideas including traditional electrical contact docks that can be rotated or adjusted; it notably also shows an iPad-like device being docked to an articulated arm not unlike the one found on earlier iMac models. 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.
Apple’s limited developer release of the beta version of iOS 4.1 yesterday makes a handful of small new changes to iOS 4.0, which debuted in June 2010 for iPhone 3G, 3GS, iPod touch 2G, iPod touch 3G, and iPhone 4 devices. For readers who may be interested in what’s changed, we’ve compiled a brief list, along with several screenshots provided by a reader.
One subtle change was first spotted in iOS 4.1 but will likely appear in an iOS 4.0.1 update, as well: Apple’s signal bar strength meter has been updated to more accurately depict cellular signal strength, such that they will show fewer bars than before under some conditions, and the first three bars have been made larger.
Game Center, a matchmaking and leaderboard application for iOS 4-compatible games, has been added again to the list of icons. Apple included Game Center with developer versions of iOS 4.0 until the date of final release, but pulled the app from the publicly available iOS 4 release to give developers additional time to integrate their apps with the feature. The new version of Game Center includes an updated interface with stylized graphics.
Apple has added a new Settings > General > Restrictions option to turn off multi-player game matchmaking within Game Center, which disables the request tab and friend adding for that application. It has also added a new Settings > General > Keyboard option to disable the spell checking feature. User-created dictionary entries also appear to be in the offing for iOS 4.1, enabling the auto-correction feature to learn additional words that shouldn’t be replaced.
Additional features include support for adding iPhone 4 FaceTime contacts to your Favorites list, a tweak that moves the Flash and Camera switch buttons to different locations when the device is tilted into landscape orientation, and a change to AVRCP Bluetooth handing that allows for track skipping. A version of iOS 4.1 for iPad notably has not been released by Apple.
Apple has invited a small number of journalists to a special press conference, expected to be held at its headquarters in Cupertino, CA, to discuss the iPhone 4. Apple has not indicated who will be speaking at the event, which will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on Friday, nor has it given specifics about what exactly will be discussed, beyond saying that the event will focus on the iPhone 4. Most likely, the company will address concerns over the device’s ongoing antenna issues, and possibly other, less publicized issues like malfunctioning proximity sensors.
Apple has released its first beta version of iOS 4.1, along with an accompanying software development kit (SDK), to registered iPhone developers. Notably, there is no version of the beta operating system available for the iPad, suggesting that contrary to prior reports, iOS 4.1 will not be a platform-unifying release, but will instead cater to Apple’s pocketable devices exclusively. It is currently unknown what, if any, new features or APIs may be included in the update; it is also unknown whether it is meant to help alleviate initial problems with the iPhone 4, or whether those fixes will come in an incremental 4.0.1 update. Both the new iOS 4.1 SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.
Apple has acquired Québec-based online mapping firm Poly9, according to a new report. French-language le Soliel reports (Translated Link) that the transaction, specifics of which are not known, occurred recently, and that the vast majority of Poly9’s staff have been relocated to Apple’s Cupertino offices. While the company’s website has been pulled down, an older version cached by archive.org shows that Poly9 specializes in developing and designing online mapping applications, online and offline 3D mapping applications, and mapping APIs. The purchase marks Apple’s second mapping-related acquisition in as many years, as it purchased mapping service Placebase and its accompanying Pushpin API in July 2009. [via MDN]
Scott Forstall, Apple’s Senior Vice President of iOS Software, has joined Twitter. While Forstall has yet to post a single tweet, he already has 16,987 followers, but is following only one person himself: Conan O’Brien. Coincidentally, O’Brien’s latest tweet as of this writing involves the iPhone 4. It says, “I found a huge design flaw in my new iPhone. People get angry when I talk on it during a funeral.” It’s unclear whether Forstall’s account was created solely for his personal use, or if it represents the beginning of a larger push by Apple into social media, perhaps in an effort to battle negative press regarding the iPhone 4’s reception issues.
Speaking at the MobileBeat 2010 conference, AdMob CEO Omar Hamoui has revealed that Apple has yet to enforce its new ad restrictions that would effectively ban the Google-owned mobile advertising service from the iOS platform. “They haven’t been enforcing (the new regulations) yet. We’re very appreciative of that,” said Hamoui, according to a Cnet report. He went on to explain that were the restrictions enforced, “it would mean we could not run ads on the iPhone at all,” adding that without the analytical data, AdMob couldn’t even track who had clicked on their customer’s ads, making it virtually impossible to sell any ads at all. In addition, Hamoui had praise for Apple’s new iAds, saying, “the really rich pretty ads they’re doing are making advertisers and agencies think about what mobile means. Anybody getting advertisers interested in mobile is a good thing. It’s not at all a zero-sum game.”
A long-standing lawsuit against Apple and AT&T over the two companies’ iPhone exclusivity agreement has been granted expanded class action status. According to the court document posted online by Wired, the suit now covers “[a]ll persons who purchased or acquired an iPhone in the United States and entered into a two-year agreement with Defendant AT&T Mobility, LLC for iPhone voice and data service any time from June 29, 2007, to the present.” In an interview with Wired, Mark Rifkin, lead counsel representing the plaintiffs of the suit, explained that AT&T’s two-year contract provides an option for customers to terminate the agreement—for a fee—and switch to another carrier. Due to the nature of the U.S. cellular industry, and because the iPhone is only offered by AT&T, customers are essentially locked into using AT&T despite having the termination option.
Apple has argued that its original five-year iPhone exclusivity agreement with AT&T was widely reported, and that even if it wasn’t disclosed, it fails to produce the kind of monopoly power claimed by the plaintiffs. Notably, the exclusivity situation described above is the same for many current smartphones from other cellular providers, such as the Evo 4G from Sprint, the Droid from Verizon, and the original model of the Nexus One from T-Mobile. In addition, it remains to be seen whether the five-year exclusivity deal between Apple and AT&T is still in place, as it has been speculated that the terms of the two companies’ iPhone deal may have been part of the negotiations over iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G data plans.
Apple has posted four new iPhone 4 television commercials. Similar to the company’s first iPhone 4 ad, the new 30-second spots highlight the phone’s FaceTime video chat feature. “Meet Her” shows a new grandfather meeting his granddaughter for the first time, “Haircut” revolves around a boyfriend seeing his girlfriend’s new haircut, “Smile” shows a father attempting to get his daughter to smile so he can see her new braces, and “Big News” shows a wife sharing the news with her husband that they are going to have a child. All four new TV ads are available for viewing on Apple’s website.