Apple has released version 1.4 of its VoiceOver Kit for the fifth-generation iPod nano and third- and fourth-generation iPod shuffle. VoiceOver enables the devices to announce the names of playlists, songs, and artists, as well as battery status and other messages. According to Apple’s release notes, the new version offers pronunciation improvements for many artist and song names, improved voices for Korean, German, and Russian, and fourth-generation iPod shuffle support for Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, and Thai languages. VoiceOver Kit 1.4 is a 32.5MB download and is available for download now via Apple’s Software Update utility.
Apple has started sending out free iTunes Movie Rental codes to select iTunes users, according to a new report. Citing an email received by a reader, 9 to 5 Mac reports that the included code is good for one rental from iTunes’ library of over 8,500 movies, and that the distribution of the codes seems to be random. Most likely, Apple is attempting to use the promotion to raise awareness of Movie Rentals on the iTunes Store, perhaps hoping to boost sales of the second-generation Apple TV in the process.
Apple’s retail stores are now offering “iPad Gift Card” packages for the holidays. As seen in our photos, the iPad gift cards aren’t specially-printed cards with iPad imagery on them, but instead appear to be standard Apple Store gift cards that have been placed inside iPad-specific packaging. Interestingly, customers weren’t initially able to purchase iPads with Apple Store gift cards, as company policy required users to pay with a debit or credit card.
In an interview with CVG, Electronic Arts vice president Patrick Soderlund said he believes Apple would have a fighting chance in the video game console market should it choose to enter. When asked whether Apple would have a shot at challenging Sony and Microsoft in the console market, Soderlund said, “If it was anyone but Apple, I’d say that’s going to be very hard.” He continued, “I still think it’s going to be extremely hard for them but they’ve surprised many people before. Look at what they did with the iPhone, right? They are a truly brilliant company so I would give them a relatively good chance to succeed if they tried.” [via MDN]
Apple is at a standstill in talks with magazine publishers over the terms of a potential iTunes subscription model, according to a new report. Citing anonymous publishing sources, AllThingsD reports that Apple is offering publishers the ability to sell app subscriptions through iTunes, 70 percent of revenue, and the ability to offer a simple opt-in form for gleaning name, address, and e-mail address. The publishers are apparently unhappy with the revenue split model, preferring to sell subscriptions themselves, but are more at odds over the lack of access to subscribers’ credit card data, which is valuable to them for marketing purposes and allows them to bundle the digital subscriptions with traditional print media. The report also notes that a News Corp. executive said the company’s upcoming iPad newspaper the Daily won’t launch until the first quarter of 2011, but expects it to showcase a new “push” feature from Apple that will allow new issues to be downloaded to an iPad automatically. Notably, News Corp. owns AllThingsD.
Apple has made a number of small but notable changes to its Apple Universal Dock kit. The new set includes the Universal Dock, which looks similar to the company’s 2007 model, Apple’s new aluminum Remote, Dock Adapters to fit the iPhone 4, iPhone 3G/3GS, iPod touch 2G/3G, iPod touch 4G, and iPod nano 5G, a USB power adapter and USB cable. Perhaps due to the inclusion of the charger, the revised Universal Dock package now sells for $59, compared to $49 for the prior version. Apple’s new Universal Dock is available now. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has posted its latest iPad television ad, focusing on the new features of iOS 4.2.1. Like its prior “iPad is…” commercials, the new spot—entitled “iPad is Amazing”—shows the iPad being used mostly in front of a white background, utilizing a variety of different apps and features. The spot starts with the words “iPad is” on the screen, and is followed by a different app or feature demonstration, along with a descriptor—including “creating,” “printing,” “vital,” “ideas,” “multi-tasking,” “facts,” “figures,” and “amazing,” the last showing a movie being streamed to an Apple TV using AirPlay. As with the prior “iPad is” ads, it features the song “Never Stop” by Gonzales in the background. Apple’s new “iPad is Amazing” ad is available for viewing on the company’s website.
Apple has updated its Game Center terms of service, notifying users that their full names will be used in conjunction with friend requests. “We have changed the Game Center terms and conditions to provide you notice that if you send a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the recipient,” the new document states. “If you accept a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the sender.” Notably, it appears users’ full names will not be shared with other users sending unknown friend requests, unless they accept the invitations.
Olivier Sanche, Apple’s Director of Global Data Center Operations, passed away last week after suffering a heart attack, according to a new report. Citing Tweets and blog postings from some of Sanche’s friends, Data Center Knowledge reports that Sanche joined Apple in August 2009, and oversaw the preparations for the company’s new $1 billion data center in North Carolina. Prior to Apple, Sanche headed data center teams at AT&T, Telecity Group and eBay; for the latter, he oversaw the design and construction of eBay’s “Topaz” data center in Utah, which recently received LEED Gold certification for its sustainable construction. “Olivier loved being at Apple as he could do things he could get done nowhere else,” friend Dave Ohara wrote. “He had vision, passion, and drive to do the right thing, especially for the environment.”
Apple has added to its legal team ahead of key legal battles with rival companies Nokia, HTC, and Motorola. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Apple and Nokia are squaring off before the International Trade Commission this week, with each side alleging intellectual property violations. “These are very well-known, deep-pocketed, high-end manufacturers,” said Lyle Vander Schaaf, an attorney at Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione in Washington, who handles cases before the ITC. “Usually you have one 800-pound gorilla going after a new entrant. Here you’ve got 800-pound gorillas fighting each other.” According to the report, Apple has been the most-sued technology company since 2008, and has hired some of the country’s top patent lawyers as outside counsel, with experience representing companies such as Creative Technology, Broadcom, and Merck & Co. Apple also added an in-house attorney to its ranks this year, hiring former Sun Microsystems head of IP counsel Noreen Krall; Krall now focuses on intellectual property litigation for Apple.
Apple has confirmed the purchase of a 98-acre site near its existing headquarters in Cupertino, CA. The site has served as a longtime campus for rival tech company Hewlett-Packard, and sits across the street from a 50-acre site that Apple acquired in 2006 and had previously announced as the location for a planned second campus. “We now occupy 57 buildings in Cupertino and our campus is bursting at the seams,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told the San Jose Mercury News. “These offices will give us more space for our employees as we continue to grow.” Apple and HP declined to give the sale price or any specifics of the transaction, although local real estate experts suggest the asking price may have been $300 million or more.
Apple is offering discounts on a select group of accessories for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod in celebration of “Cyber Monday,” the online counterpart to Black Friday. The discounts include $40 off the Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox speaker, $20 off Beats by Dr. Dre Solo HD Headphones, $4 off the Twelve South Compass Portable Stand for iPad, and $13 off an iPhone-friendly Cole Haan Zip Wallet. These and the other discounts are available today only on Apple’s online store.
A pair of new reports suggest that News Corp, headed by Rupert Murdoch, will announce a new tablet-based newspaper at an upcoming Apple event. The Guardian reports that the new paper, called the Daily, is a collaboration between Apple and News Corp and has been under development in New York for several months. The report goes on to state that the paper will cost 99 cents per week, and will be able to be delivered automatically to an iPad using a new subscription plan from Apple.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball, in linking to the aforementioned report, suggests that the initiative will launch with a press event, with Murdoch—and possibly other newspaper and magazine executives—joining Steve Jobs on stage. In addition, Gruber states that he’d heard December 9th as possible date for the event, but notes that this is a Thursday, an unusual day for Apple to hold a press event. Gruber goes on to state that based on information from sources outside Apple, the event will not be for a central “iNews” or “Newsstand” app from Apple, but will instead be for a new recurring subscription billing option for apps, paid through the user’s iTunes account. He also states that the News Corp developers working on the new Daily app have been given “preliminary documentation on the new subscription billing APIs from Apple.”
Apple has begun emailing past customers of its retail and online stores, notifying them of a special one-day Apple shopping event this Friday, November 26. According to the notice, Apple’s retail stores will open at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, while customers visiting the online store will have all day to place an order. In the past, Apple has offered modest sales on select products during such events; last year, it offered a discount of $101 on all MacBook Pro laptop computers as well as $31 discount on 32GB iPod touch models.
Apple has released a software update for the second-generation Apple TV bringing the device’s software up to version 4.1. Notably, the update includes support for AirPlay streaming from a device running iOS 4.2 or from a Mac or PC running iTunes 10 to the Apple TV. In addition, it adds support for VoiceOver spoken menus; the feature can be turned on via a setting in the Accessibility menu, and reads both the names of menu items and metadata, including episode descriptions of TV shows. Apple TV software 4.1 is available now via the Update Software menu item in the device’s General settings menu.
As expected, Apple has released iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The anticipated update, announced during Apple’s September iPod event, brings iOS 4 features such as multitasking and folders to the iPad for the first time, while also adding new features like AirPlay wireless media streaming and AirPrint wireless printing to the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Notably, the software update requires iTunes 10.1, and is available now for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch via the Update feature in iTunes.
Apple has announced that it will release iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch later today. Announced during Apple’s September media event, the update will bring previously iPhone- and iPod touch-exclusive features like multitasking and a unified Mail inbox to the iPad, and will also add new features like AirPlay streaming and AirPrint wireless printing to all three devices. Apple is expected to release iOS 4.2 around 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Apple has seeded a new Gold Master version of iOS 4.2, labeled iOS 4.2.1, to developers. Unlike the secondary GM seed of iOS 4.2 released exclusively for the iPad, this new build is available for all capable devices, including the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch. While it is unclear whether Apple now plans to skip a general release of iOS 4.2 and go directly to iOS 4.2.1, an email from Toktumi, makers of the Line2 VoIP application, suggests a communications bug may have led Apple to release the new build. According to the email, reprinted by Mac Rumors, the GM version of iOS 4.2 contained a “severe” bug that caused any VoIP app running in the background to continuously ring after receiving an incoming call, even after the call is answered. The email states that Apple Developer Support is aware of the bug; it is unknown whether iOS 4.2.1 includes a fix for the issue. iOS 4.2.1 GM is available as a download for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.
Apple has announced that it will launch its iAd mobile advertising network in the UK and France this December, with Germany to follow in February. According to the release, the European iAd launch will see new ads from L’Oréal, Renault, Louis Vuitton, Nespresso, Perrier, Unilever, Citi, Evian, LG Display, AB InBev, Turkish Airlines and Absolute Radio. Apple claims that iAd has signed on over half of the top 25 leading US national advertisers in just four months, with a projected 21 percent share of US mobile display advertising revenue for 2010 according to research firm IDC. Also mentioned in the release is a seemingly new iAd website, advertising.apple.com.
“We’re thrilled to add leading global brands to the iAd Network in Europe and create even more great opportunities for developers,” said Andy Miller, Apple’s vice president of iAd. “In just four months, we’ve doubled the number of advertisers on the network and thousands of developers now have a valuable new source of revenue.”
“As the world leader in the beauty business, L’Oréal aims to create the most meaningful connections between its brands and its customers, so iAd was a natural choice,” said Marc Menesguen, L’Oréal’s Head of strategic marketing. “We’re thrilled by the quality, the interactivity and the depth of iAd’s user experience, giving us an unparalleled opportunity to reach and serve the most engaged and discerning customers at the digital forefront of beauty, hence our choice of Lancôme to lead our iAd campaign.”
Apple has announced that Dr. Ronald D. Sugar, former Chairman of the Board and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corporation, has been appointed to the company’s Board of Directors. According to the release, Dr. Sugar served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Northrop Grumman Corporation from 2003 until his retirement in 2010, and has also held executive positions at Litton Industries and TRW Inc., where he served as chief financial officer. In his role with Apple, Dr. Sugar will serve as the Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee.
“Ron is an engineer at heart, who then became a very successful business leader. We are very excited to welcome him to Apple’s Board,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “In addition to having been the CEO of a high-tech Fortune 100 company, Ron has a Ph.D. in engineering and has been involved in the development of some very sophisticated technology.”
“I have always had enormous admiration for the people of Apple,” said Sugar. “It is a special privilege to serve on the board of such an amazing company.”