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Apple faces iPad trademark fight in China

Shenzhen, China-based Proview Technology has filed for a temporary restraining order to stop Apple from using the iPad name in mainland China. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple previously filed a challenge against Proview, which claims it owns the iPad name in mainland China; Apple’s challenge was rejected in December, but the company has appealed to a higher court. “We’ve been negotiating with Apple,” said Yang Rongshan, chairman of the Proview arm in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. “I can’t tell you what the status right now since this is a commercial secret, but so far their attitude is still quite ambiguous.” According to the report, the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce is also looking in to a complaint from Proview. Proview registered the name in 2001.

Motorola secures second patent win, forces Apple to halt online iPhone, iPad sales in Germany

Motorola Mobility has won a second patent ruling against Apple in Germany, even as the latter has been forced to remove some iPhone and iPad models from its online store thanks to the prior ruling. Bloomberg reports that the Mannheim Regional Court found that Apple infringed upon a Motorola patent used to synchronize email accounts with its iCloud service, a ruling that allows Motorola hold Apple liable for damage. “The court has come to the conclusion that the wording of the patent does cover functions that were at issue here,” said ruling Judge Andreas Voss. Apple “wasn’t able to convince the court that it isn’t infringing.” Apple spokesman Alan Hely said that “Apple believes this old pager patent is invalid and we’re appealing the court’s decision.”

In addition, Apple overnight removed some iPhone and iPad models from its online store in Germany in response to a ruling from December claiming that the products infringe upon a Motorola patent related to GPRS technology. Specifically, the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and all Wi-Fi models of the iPad are affected—according to BBC News—but not the iPhone 4S or Wi-Fi-only models of the iPad. “While some iPad and iPhone models are not available through Apple’s online store in Germany right now, customers should have no problem finding them at one of our retail stores or an authorized reseller,” Hely said. Apple has appealed the December ruling, arguing that Motorola refuses to license the industry standard patent on fair and reasonable terms.

Update: Apple has since been granted a suspension of the injunction against the iPhones and iPads mentioned previously. ”All iPad and iPhone models will be back on sale through Apple’s online store in Germany shortly” Apple told SlashGear in a statement. “Apple appealed this ruling because Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago.”

Avid releases Avid Studio for iPad

Pro media production software developer Avid has released Avid Studio, an advanced multimedia editing suite for the iPad. Avid Studio incorporates leading film-editing technology into an intuitive iOS app that allows users to quickly and easily edit video, audio and photos directly on their iPad. Users arrange their clips in the Storyboard view and can then move over to the Timeline view for making precision edits and adding professional transitions effects and a soundtrack. Video, audio and photos can be imported directly from the iOS media library or users can import content from external devices using the iPad Camera Connection Kit. Built-in tutorials are included to get users started quickly and a number of advanced features are available for enhancing video content such as multi-layer 3D animations, transitions and titles, layered composite video tracks, picture-in-picture effects and high-quality motion titles and graphics with full presentation and animation controls. The resulting movie can be uploaded directly to services such as YouTube and Facebook for sharing or can be exported to Avid Studio for the PC to continue with more advanced editing tools. Avid Studio requires an iPad running iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

Longform releases iPad app

Longform has released a new iPad application designed to provide access to its curated collection of the latest in-depth articles from the world’s best magazines and selected top content from across the web. First launched in April 2010, Longform.org is an online service that collects new and classic non-fiction content designed to be read beyond the web browser. Originally recommending services such as Instapaper, Read It Later and Readability, the company has now released its own iPad application tailored specifically for reading longform writing. The app features a reader-friendly design and provides full offline access to all articles. Users can quickly switch between the original web page view or a reading-optimized view and the application integrates with Readability for bookmarking articles in-app and from across the web and reading Readability content directly in the Longform app. Bookmarking via Instapaper and Read It Later is also supported, as well as sharing favourite articles via e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. Longform requires an iPad running iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

Apple’s workers, factories spotlighted in iEconomy series

The New York Times has launched a new series of articles, dubbed The iEconomy, which examine “the challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries”, and have focused specifically on Apple thus far. The first article, “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work”, examines the favorable manufacturing conditions in China and other overseas locations that keep Apple from building its products in its home country, while the second, “In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad”, examines the sometimes brutal lives of those who build Apple’s products. Both articles are too lengthy to briefly summarize here; we present these only as articles of interest for those who want to know more about the inner workings of Apple and its competitors.

Apple to offer employees $500 off Macs, $250 off iPads

Apple has announced plans to start offering substantial discounts on both Macs and iPads, according to a new report. According to 9to5Mac, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the discount plan—which offers a $500 discount on purchases of Macs and a $250 discount on purchases of iPads—at yesterday’s employee-only Town Hall event. The report claims that the discount program will go live in June, and that employees may only use the discount once every three years. The discounts will reportedly be available for any employee who has been with the company for at least 90 days.

Apple top semiconductor purchaser in 2011

Apple was the world’s top purchaser of semiconductors in 2011, according to new research from Gartner. Apple last year purchased over $17.2 billion in semiconductors, up 34.6 percent from its 2010 total of $12.8 billion, and good for a 5.7 percent share of all semiconductor purchases on a per-company basis. Following Apple on the list was Samsung, with a 5.5 percent share, HP, also with a 5.5 percent share, Dell, with a 3.2 percent share, and Nokia, with a 3.0 percent share. “The major growth drivers in 2011 were smartphones, media tablets and solid-state drives (SSDs),” said Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner; all three are major growth areas for Apple, including the iPhone, iPad, and the drives found in the company’s MacBook Air laptops.

Apple posts streaming video of education event

Apple has posted a streaming video of this morning’s education event on its website. The video, which clocks in at roughly one hour long, features Apple executives Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue, and Roger Rosner introducing the company’s new textbook and education initiatives, which include iBooks 2.0, the new digital textbooks section of the iBookstore, iBooks Author for Mac, and the new iTunes U app. For more information on the event, check out our transcript, or simply take a peek at our News section.

AT&T announces new data plans for iPhone, iPad

AT&T has announced new data plans for smartphone and tablet customers that will affect both iPhone and iPad users. The new smartphone data plans include AT&T Data Plus 300MB, which includes 300MB of monthly data for $20, AT&T Data Pro 3GB, which offers 3GB for $30, and AT&T Data Pro 5GB, which offers 5GB for $50 and also includes mobile hotspot tethering. Customers on the latter two plans can pay $10 per additional gigabyte, while Data Plus customers get an extra 300MB for $20. For the iPad, AT&T DataConnect 3GB includes 3GB for $30, while AT&T DataConnect 5GB runs $50 and includes 5GB of data. All five new plans will launch this Sunday, January 22; existing customers will have the choice of keeping their current plans or choosing from one of the new options.

Apple education event to focus on content, K-12 market

Apple’s education event, scheduled for tomorrow in New York City, will focus on broadening the education content available for the iPad, with an emphasis on the K-12 market, according to a new report. Citing two people with knowledge of the announcement, Bloomberg reports that Apple will announce a set of tools to make it easier to publish interactive textbooks and other digital educational content. In addition to making more content available, Apple also hopes to empower “self-publishers” to create new kinds of teaching tools, likely based on a modified version of the ePub standard. A report form earlier this week suggested that Apple would adopt the ePub 3 standard in such a tool, allowing for easier creation of interactive, multimedia-rich content.

iPad 3 announcement coming in early February?

Apple plans to hold a special event in early February to debut the iPad 3, according to a new report. Citing an Asian supplier and a source in the U.S., Macotakara reports that Apple is prepared to hold a special event in early February, at which it will debut both the next-generation iPad as well as iOS 5.1, which is currently in developer beta testing. The report claims that due to the Chinese New Year, the next iPad would not be released until early March, leaving a month-long gap between the product’s announcement and its release; last year, Apple debuted the iPad 2 on March 2nd, then released the device to stores on March 11, making for a debut-to-release gap of only nine days. [via BGR]

Apple working with McGraw-Hill, to launch ‘GarageBand’ for textbooks?

Apple has been working with McGraw-Hill and potentially other publishers on a digital interactive textbook initiative that it is expected to launch at its special event on Thursday, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that McGraw-Hill has been working with Apple on the announcement since June, and may have been joined in participation by Pearson and Houghton Mifflin. Cengage Learning, a leader in higher-education textbooks, has partnered with Apple in the past and will also be attending the event. “Apple today clearly has a strong position in hardware, and companies like Cengage Learning have a very strong position on the content side,” said Bill Rieders, Cengage executive vice president of global strategy and business development. “To the extent there’s a combination there, that could be exciting.”

In a separate report, Ars Technica also suggests that Apple is working on digital textbooks, but instead suggests that Apple will announce support for the more robust ePub 3 standard in iBooks moving forward, as well as a new tool for creating ePub 3- compliant e-books. Referring to the tool as “GarageBand for e-books”, the report cites former Apple education employee and current CEO of digital textbook house Inkling Matt MacInnis as expecting such a tool. “That’s what we believe you’re about to see,” MacInnis told Ars, a statement that was agreeable to the report’s other sources. “Publishing something to ePub is very similar to publishing web content. Remember iWeb? That iWeb code didn’t just get flushed down the toilet—I think you’ll see some of [that code] repurposed.” Late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs was known to have been involved with the initiative, and according to the report worked on this project for several years.

IDG: iPad replacing laptop for over 10% of business users

According to a new report from IDG Connect, the iPad is replacing laptops for over 10% business users. The global survey finds that the iPad has completely replaced the laptops of 16 percent of IT and business professionals worldwide, and has partly replaced the laptop for another 54 percent. 91 percent of IT decision-makers said they use their work at least on a partial basis, while 79 percent said they “always” use their iPads “on the move”. Not surprisingly, web browsing is the most popular activity performed by professionals on the device, with 79 percent saying they “always” use their iPad for that task, followed by reading with 76 percent, news consumption with 73 percent, work communication with 54 percent, and social media with 44 percent.

Verizon: LTE a ‘hard requirement’ moving forward

Speaking with Cnet, Keith Lampron, associate director of device marketing with Verizon, has said that the company will require LTE on all new smartphones and tablet devices launched on the network in the future. Calling LTE a “hard requirement”, Lampron said the only exception will be for phones on Verizon’s push-to-talk network, which will be 3G-only until further notice. Apple has yet to announce any LTE-compatible devices, but the statement by Verizon strongly suggests that any future iPhone and iPad devices with cellular data capabilities will be able to connect to the 4G network.

Siri dictation for iPad referenced in iOS 5.1 beta 3

Apple’s newly-released iOS 5.1 beta 3 contains references to Siri dictation on the iPad, according to a new report. Citing self-proclaimed hacker Sonny Dickson, 9to5Mac reports that the beta contains a new section in the keyboard menu labeled “About Privacy and Dictation” that, when tapped, displays standard legal and feature information for Siri dictation. As noted in the report, this menu item does not appear on the iPhone 4S, but is instead found under the Siri preferences and covers both Siri and its dictation feature, suggesting that its appearance on the iPad is not the result of the code accidentally being carried over from the iPhone 4S.

Apple seeds iOS 5.1 beta 3 to developers

Apple this morning seeded its registered iOS developers with the third beta version of iOS 5.1. According to Apple’s sparse release notes state simply that the release contains “bug fixes and improvements”. The update is currently available as an OTA Software Update for devices already running iOS 5.1 beta 2, and will likely be available shortly to registered iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Corning details Gorilla Glass 2: 20% thinner

Corning has, as promised, announced details of its new Gorilla Glass 2 material, the second-generation of the damage-resistant cover glass used in iOS devices. According to the company, Gorilla Glass 2 enables up to a 20 percent reduction in glass thickness, while retaining the same damage- and scratch-resistance as the original. Corning claims that the new material will allow for slimmer devices, brighter images, and greater touch sensitivity. While Gorilla Glass 2 will debut on Windows-based PCs, the company claims that a number of its global customers are expected to unveil new devices using it in the coming months.

Code found in iOS 5.1 points to quad-core chips

New code found within iOS 5.1 suggests that Apple is currently working on iOS devices with quad-core chips. According to 9to5Mac, iOS 5.1 includes updated processing-core management software that makes references to an option of “/cores/cores.3”, which according to people with knowledge of iOS’ inner workings, refers to a four-core chip, as “cores.0” refers to a single-core device, and “cores.1” to a dual-core chip. As noted in the report, the presence of this reference in iOS 5.1 suggests that the next-generation iPad, which is likely being tested using the software, will feature a quad-core processor. iLounge’s Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz, citing a reported yesterday that the device is likely to be launched around the same time as the iPad 2 was a year ago; the iPad 2 was launched on March 11.

GameStop sees ‘strong’ interest in iOS trade program

GameStop has announced that the company’s trade-in program for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad has seen “strong consumer enthusiasm” in the months it has been available. “The velocity of this trade program has exceeded our expectations,” stated GameStop president Tony Bartel. “We expect to see strong post-holiday traffic as customers trade in older models that were replaced by gifts.” Through the program, customers receive up to $180 in store credit for an iPod touch, up to $300 for an iPhone, and up to $400 for an iPad. Thanks to the success of the program, the company expects to continue to expand the availability of GameStop refurbished devices. [via Joystiq]

iLounge’s Starrett releases Scribe app for iOS

iLounge Senior Editor Charles Starrett has released his first iOS application, Scribe. An advanced text editor for the iPhone and iPad, Scribe is designed for users who write content for the web, with easy HTML markup features accessible directly from the iOS context menus. The application provides a clutter-free user interface with an iPhone/iPad-optimized version of the font Anonymous Pro; users can save files locally, or take advantage of iCloud and Dropbox support for syncing files between multiple iOS devices. Scribe also offers full Markdown support for users who prefer that syntax to HTML, while providing the same menu options as HTML markup. Additional features include integrated support for TextExpander, AirPrint, sending of documents via e-mail, and word/character/line counts. Scribe is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $3.

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