Microsoft has released an update to its Bing search app for the iPad adding a new gesture-based search feature. Dubbed Lasso, the new feature allows users to select a word or phrase from within the app by outlining it with a touch gesture rather than needing to copy and paste it into the search box. In the company’s blog, the developers note that the new feature is a result of research into the way that searches are conducted, noting that many searches are inspired by things people are already seeing in their web browser, rather than original words. Lasso is designed to reduce the number of steps required to search on an item in a web page by allowing users to simply “circle and search in just two steps.” The new version also adds improvements to searching for movies, allowing users to view multiple showtime days and theatres, support for swiping through previous Bing homepage images and a number of other performance and UI improvements. Bing for iPad is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
Josh Pressnell has released an update to eNotify, an app for providing background notification of new mail on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Unlike other push notification e-mail apps that require users to setup mail forwarding rules, eNotify is unique in that it leverages background multitasking features in iOS 4 to check for mail and provide local notifications when new messages are received, operating entirely on the device. Users can create custom notification profiles based on account, priority, sender, subject line or recipient and can scan multiple IMAP folders for new mail. POP3, Hotmail, Yahoo and IMAP accounts are supported, and IMAP users can get immediate push e-mail via the IMAP IDLE protocol. A Do Not Disturb schedule can also be set to silence all alerts during certain times of the day and settings can be transferred between multiple iOS devices using Bluetooth.
eNotify version 1.7 adds configurable options to repeat new message alerts and override the silent switch for high priority e-mails or other specific alerts. The new version also includes several fixes for memory issues with IMAP servers, improves support for Hotmail POP3 servers and adds support for screen rotation on the iPad. eNotify is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $5; the app requires iOS 4.0 and a multitasking-capable device.
Extra Live has released an official game of the Tour de France 2011 for the iOS platform, allowing players to build a team and race virtually in the world’s biggest and oldest cycling event. Players must assemble, manage and train their own team of five cyclists and race against challenging AI opponents across 21 realistic stages of the Tour. Riders of varying styles such as rouleur, baroudeur, sprinter and climber are available with varying physical abilities allowing players to build their ideal team and players must employ real cycling strategy and cycling tactics to beat the AI opponents who will be using their own tactics to win.
Races travel through the real 21 stages of the Tour de France with true-to-life locations, vivid scenery and names and features from the climbs of Mont Ventoux to the flat laps of the Champs-Élysées. A unique Facebook integration feature allows players to ask for moral support from their friends—the game posts a message to the player’s Facebook wall and each “Like” received on the post will add energy points to give riders an instant boost in the game. Tour de France 2011 - The Official Game is available in two versions: Tour de France 2011 ($3) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Tour de France 2011 HD ($4) for the iPad.
Based on information available from the iPad’s App Store, there are now over 100,000 iPad-specific or Universal apps available. As of this writing, 100,146 apps are available, up from 90,000 at the time of Apple’s WWDC 2011 Keynote. As noted by Macstories, the milestone comes just 453 days after the launch of the first iPad, a rate of growth that is comparable to the App Store itself, which hit the 100,000 app mark in November 2009, slightly more than 15 months after its launch.
Samsung has filed a complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the latest move in its ongoing legal battle with the Cupertino, CA-based iPhone-maker. The complaint covers “Mobile Electronic Devices, Including Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, and Tablet Computer,” which FOSS Patents takes to mean that Samsung is seeking an import ban against the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The ITC has yet to agree to investigate the complaint, but should they do so—an outcome the report suggests is “pretty certain”—a final decision would be reached within 16 to 18 months.
Both Verizon Wireless and AT&T in the U.S. are working on data plan offerings that would allow users to share their monthly data allotment between the iPhone and iPad. AllThingsD reports that AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega said in a interview at the D9 conference that “We’re working on one. It will be soon. I can’t comment on a quarter (when it will launch) but it will be soon,” while Verizon CFO Fran Shammo also recently indicated that the company is exploring such an offer. These moves follow launches of shared data plans France Telecom’s Orange unit in Austria, France, Spain, and the U.K., under which users pay an “extra couple of dollars” each month for each additional device that shares the same data allotment. In Austria, where such a plan has been offered the longest, Orange claims that 38 percent of all iPads on its network are now using the shared plans.
Apple will tap Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to produce its next-gen “A6” ARM-based System-on-a-Chip sometime in 2012, according to a new report. Citing multiple sources inside the semiconductor industry, Ars Technica reports that the move is partially the result of increasing tension between Apple and Samsung, which are involved in a heated patent dispute with opposing lawsuits in multiple countries. As noted in the report, rumors of a partnership between Apple and TSMC date back to 2011, and it was been suggested that Apple was working with TSMC to move its mobile processors to the foundry’s 28nm process; Samsung currently produces the A5 chip using a 45nm process.
Apple has posted the second beta version of iOS 5. Available to paid iOS developers, the release—listed as build 9A5248d—includes support for Wi-Fi Sync. As noted by Mac Rumors, the release notes state, “In iOS 5.0 beta 2, wireless syncing is now available for the Mac. It requires iTunes 10.5 beta 2 and OS X 10.6.8 or Lion. You will see an option to enable wireless syncing when you connect your device to iTunes with the USB cable. It is recommended you perform your initial sync with a cable after restoring your device.”
The text continues, “Wireless syncing is triggered automatically when the device is connected to power and on the same network as the paired computer. Or, you can manually trigger a sync from iTunes or from Settings -> General -> iTunes Sync (same network as paired computer required). Be sure your device is plugged into a power source when performing Wireless syncs. If you find issues with apps, media and/or photos synced to your device, you can reset then resync. From Settings -> General -> Reset, choose Erase all Content and Settings. Then reconnect to iTunes and sync again. In this beta, iTunes may incorrectly report Photos as ‘Other’ in the capacity bar. Photo syncing otherwise works as expected.” In addition to iOS 5 beta 2, iTunes 10.5 beta 2 and Apple TV Software beta 2 have also been released; all three are available from the iOS Dev Center.
G5 Entertainment has released the latest instalment in its Treasure Seekers game series, Treasure Seekers 3 - Follow the Ghosts. A hidden object puzzle game, Treasure Seekers 3 puts players back in the role of Nelly and Tom as they seek to release unlucky ghosts trapped by an evil alchemist. Players must find the necessary items to free the dead ancestor of Cardinal House and others. The game includes five chapters and 48 levels with two game modes for both casual and advanced players along with Retina Display and Game Center support. Treasure Seekers 3 is available from the App Store as two free, trial version: Treasure Seekers 3 for the iPhone and iPod touch and Treasure Seekers 3 HD for the iPad. The full game can be unlocked in either version via an in-app purchase for $5 for the iPhone/iPod touch or $7 for the iPad.
Gameloft has released BackStab, a new universal iOS action-adventure game. BackStab puts players in the role of Henry Blake, a former officer in England’s Royal Navy who has had his life stripped away and must undertake a quest for justice and revenge against those who betrayed and imprisoned him. Players travel across a variety of different 3D environments, climbing and jumping and fighting enemies along the way using a combo-based combat system. In addition to the movement and combat system the game provides detailed character interactions and lifelike voice effects and players can explore four unique cities to discover new quests and secrets. BackStab is a universal app supporting the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch and iPad and is available from the App Store for $7.
As part of its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung, Apple has filed a lawsuit against Samsung in its home country of South Korea. The Wall Street Journal reports that in its complaint, Apple makes the same product-copying clains that it made in its U.S. suit, namely that many of Samsung’s recent Android-based smartphones and Galaxy Tab tablets copy the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad, respectively. The report also notes the deep relationship between the two companies when its comes to components, as Apple is its largest customer when it comes to flash memory, microprocessors, and flat-panel screens.
- June 23, 2011
Daniel Spitler, one of the hackers responsible for the exposure of email addresses and SIM ICC-ID numbers for 114,000 iPad 3G users last June, has pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers and one count of identity theft. Reuters reports that Spitler made his plea before U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton in Newark, New Jersey federal court, and that each count carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Spitler will be sentenced September 28; the case of his co-defendant Andrew Auernheimer is pending. Spitler and Auernheimer, under the name of “Goatse Security,” discovered a publicly accessible script on AT&T’s website through which they extracted the data. The pair alerted the carrier only after they had stolen the data, shared the PHP script used with several third-parties, and supplied Gawker with the user account information.
Evidence that Apple is building its own mapping service has been found in the first beta version of iOS 5. Mac Rumors reports that the legal disclaimers found in iOS 5 hold a new section called “Map Data,” which is separate from Google’s own legal terms for its map data. In the new section, references to various companies are found. Those companies include Core Logic, a company offering Parcel data that marks boundaries of properties for positional accuracy, Getchee, which offers positional and market data for the Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian markets, Increment P Corp, a company providing location and traffic data for Japan, MapData Sciences, which provides mapping data for Australia and New Zealand, and DMTI, which provides postal code data for Canada. The list also includes TomTom, which provides global TeleAtlas mapping data—also licensed by Google for its map solution—Urban Mapping, a company that provides in-depth neighborhood data and was a prior partner of PlaceBase, a mapping company acquired by Apple in 2007, and Waze, which offers real-time maps and traffic information based on crowd-sourced data.
What the inclusion of these companies in the iOS 5 legal disclaimers means for iOS 5 users is unclear, given Google’s claim that Apple has recently renewed its Map partnership with Google, however it appears that Apple is continuing to work on its own mapping service, even as it continues to include Google Maps in its iOS devices.
Apple has been awarded a broad, comprehensive Multi-Touch interface patent that experts believe may give it the upper hand in disputes with rivals. Entitled “Portable multifunction device, method, and graphical user interface for translating displayed content,” the patent describes a device with “a touch-sensitive display (also known as a ‘touch screen’) with a graphical user interface (GUI), one or more processors, memory and one or more modules, programs or sets of instructions stored in the memory for performing multiple functions. In some embodiments, the user interacts with the GUI primarily through finger contacts and gestures on the touch-sensitive display. In some embodiments, the functions may include telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing, instant messaging, blogging, digital photographing, digital videoing, web browsing, digital music playing, and/or digital video playing.”
The patent is broad enough in its wording as to cover not only phones, but also tablets such as the iPad and media players like the iPod touch. In speaking with PC Magazine, Florian Mueller, author of FOSS Patents, indicated that the implications of the patent could be far-reaching. “This patent covers a kind of functionality without which it will be hard to build a competitive smartphone,” said Mueller. “Unless this patent becomes invalidated, it would allow Apple to stifle innovation and bully competitors.” The patent application was originally filed on December 19, 2007 and is credited to Francisco Ryan Tolmasky, Richard Williamson, Chris Blumenberg, and Patrick Lee Coffman.
Federal judge Lucy Koh has denied Samsung’s request for early access to product samples of the next-generation iPad and iPhone in its patent infringement case with Apple. According to FOSS Patents, Koh explained in her decision that while Samsung was entitled to “parity” in relation to Apple’s request for samples of certain unreleased devices, samples of those devices have been in circulation, while Apple has not yet announced any details of its next-generation iPhone or iPad. Despite the favorable ruling, the decision also contained a passage that the report suggests is a hint to Apple that it may not be able to get a preliminary injunction against the sale of the targeted Samsung products in the U.S. at this time.
“Samsung is free to argue, for instance, that there is little likelihood of confusion because consumers will not encounter its products side-by-side with the iPhone 4 or iPad 2, but rather with Apple’s next generation iPhone and iPad,” Koh said. “Similarly, as to proximity, Samsung is free to argue that because the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 will soon be outmoded and reduced in price, they are not being sold (or very soon will not be sold) to the same class of purchasers who are likely to buy new Samsung products. By choosing to allege infringement only of its current products, Apple opens itself up to these arguments.” The report goes on to suggest that Apple may wait until after it publicly announces the next-generation iPhone to proceed with an injunction request, at which time it could display the handset to the court and avoid any such issues.
The next-generation iPhone will feature an A5 processor, currently found in the iPad 2, as well as an eight-megapixel camera, according to a Bloomberg report. Citing two people familiar with the plans, the report claims that Apple is also testing a new version of the iPad with a higher-resolution, more responsive screen, although it claims the resolution would be roughly one-third higher than that of the current iPad 2 screen, a curious claim as it would break with Apple’s practice of quadrupling resolution in an effort to ease development and app scaling. Evidence of a quad-resolution screen—which would most likely feature a resolution of 2048x1536—has been found in iOS 5.
In a direct contradiction of yesterday’s report that the next-generation iPhone would sport a “radical” new case design, the report also claims that the new phone will closely resemble the iPhone 4, and had its release pushed back to September to coincide with the release of iOS 5. Finally, the report claims that Apple is also working to finish a cheaper version of the iPhone aimed at developing countries that would use chips and displays “of similar quality to” those found in the iPhone 4.
Apple has started to air its latest TV commercial for the iPad 2. Entitled “Now,” the 30-second spot is similar in tone to the company’s first to iPad 2 commercials, and features a narrator—Peter Coyote—saying, “Now we can watch a newspaper, listen to a magazine, curl up with a movie, and see a phone call. Now we can take a classroom anywhere, hold an entire bookstore, and touch the stars… because, now, there’s this.” The commercial is available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Facebook is planning to launch a native iPad app in the “coming weeks,” according to a new report. Citing people briefed on Facebook’s plans, the New York Times reports that the new application will be free, and has been specifically designed and optimized to take full advantage of the iPad. According to the report, the app has been in development for almost a year, and is now in the final stages of testing after going through several design iterations. While the Chat and Groups features have undergone overhauls for the launch, the photo sharing features—including the ability to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the iPad 2’s cameras—will likely grab the most attention. “The photo and video experience is amazing, offering full resolution and full-screen images,” said a person who has seen the app. Facebook currently offers no iPad-optimized experience via an app or the web, instead directing users to the service’s standard desktop website.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked about plans for such an app last November, and responded by stating that the “iPad is not mobile,” before Facebook’s mobile platform chief Eric Tseng clarified by indicating that Facebook considers the iPad to be part of a whole new class of devices, and not a mobile platform in the same way that a phone is.
- June 15, 2011
Three people in China have been convicted of violating commercial secrets relating to the theft of the iPad 2’s design, according to an AFP report. Citing the Guangzhou Daily, the report states that the theft took place late last year at a plant run by Foxconn, and allowed for the manufacture and sale of counterfeit iPad 2 units prior to the product’s official introduction. Xiao Chengsong, a legal agent of Maita Electronics, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined 150,000 yuan (roughly $23,000) for buying the design from two Foxconn workers for 200,000 yuan. The Foxconn workers, Lin Kecheng and Hou Pengna, were sentenced to 14 months and two years—suspended for one year—and fined 100,000 yuan and 30,000 yuan, respectively.
- June 15, 2011
Another round of 2048x1536 iPad graphics has been found in the initial beta version of iOS 5. TechUnwrapped reports that images found in the new Twitter framework are labeled “2x”—the same designation given to similarly-oversized graphics found in iBooks in January—and are 2048x1536 in size, suggesting that a future iPad model will sport a display with quadruple the pixels of the first two generations. An additional “2x” image has been found in Newsstand, although this particular image is 1536x800, while its normal-sized counterpart is 768x400. A move from 1024x768 to 2048x1536 would allow Apple to make a similar transition to the one it made when it moved from 480x320 displays on the iPhone and iPod touch to the Retina Display, which offers exactly quadruple the pixels at 960x640. While many—including iLounge—were skeptical of such a display appearing in the iPad 2, Samsung has since shown a 2560x1600, 10.1-inch display prototype, suggesting that a 2048x1536 display is at least technically possible for the iPad 3, if not necessarily available in sufficient quantities to meet likely demand. [via 9 to 5 Mac]