A claimed “pre-GM” seed of iOS 5.1 has been obtained by Brazilian enthusiast site Blog do iPhone, and reportedly offers a new form of lock screen camera access. According to the report (Translated Link), the new Camera access control sits on the lock screen permanently, and provides instant access to the camera by simply sliding the icon upward. Currently, users must double-tap the Home button, tap the camera button, and then wait for the Camera application to load. In addition, the report claims that Japanese is now listed in Siri’s Settings as an officially supported language; an expected addition, considering the virtual assistant has recently been listing Japanese when answering inquiries into her language support. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple this morning announced OS X Mountain Lion, the next release of its desktop operating system for its Mac computers. Among the new features debuted by Apple this morning—many of which were based on existing iOS apps, including Notes, Reminders, and Game Center—is AirPlay Mirroring. As the name suggests, the feature will allow users to mirror their Mac’s screen on a HDTV using an Apple TV, making it easy for users to share web pages, videos, lessons, and presentations with others. In addition, the company announced a beta version of Messages for OS X. This iChat replacement mimics the Messages app on iOS, allowing users to send iMessages across both iOS and Mac devices. The app also integrates support for AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts, as well as FaceTime, removing the need for a separate, standalone app. The beta version of Messages is available now as a free download for users of OS X Lion 10.7.3 or later; OS X Mountain Lion is currently available in preview form to registered Mac developers and is slated to ship in late summer.
As Chinese authorities in two towns have started seizing iPads from local retailers, China-based Proview is now seeking an import ban on the device. Citing various Chinese-language news reports as well as Proview attorney Ma Dongxiao, the New York Times reports that the confiscated iPads are under “temporary impoundment” from retailers in Xuzhou and Shijiazhuang. According to the report, Proview has asked authorities in more than 20 cities to investigate whether iPads were being sold following a December court ruling that dismissed Apple’s claim to the iPad name in China. In addition, Proview has made a filing with the General Administration of Customs in China seeking to block the export of iPads from the country should Proview’s trademark claims be upheld. Such a move could be devastating to Apple, as the vast majority—if not all—of its iPads are built in China; however, the report suggests that the confiscations and filing are “warnings” of the consequences Apple could face should it decide not to settle the trademark dispute.
Apple is currently working to test an iPad model with a smaller screen, according to a new report. Citing officials at some of Apple’s suppliers, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has shown the suppliers screen designs for a new device with a screen size of around eight inches, and said it is qualifying suppliers for it. One person said the smaller device will have a similar resolution to that of the iPad 2, and that Apple is working with AU Optronics and LG Display to supply the test panels. As noted in the report, Apple could opt not to proceed with the device; iLounge’s own sources have repeatedly said that Apple was working on an iPad model with a screen size in the seven-inch range, but have similarly expressed uncertainty as to whether the product would ever actually be released.
Apple will announce its next-generation iPad at a special media event scheduled for Wednesday, March 7, according to a new report. Citing sources who have been reliable in the past, iMore reports that the device will feature a 2048x1536 Retina display, a quad-core Apple A6 system-on-a-chip, and “possibly” 4G LTE wireless data capability. The latter feature was later confirmed by the Wall Street Journal, which claims that both Verizon and AT&T will offer 4G data plans for the device. The iMore report goes on to repeat claims that originated with iLounge, including the suggestion of a vastly improved—5-8 megapixel—rear camera and FaceTime HD-capable front camera for the device.
Retailer Meijer has significantly dropped the price of the 16GB iPad 2 ahead of the rumored arrival of the next-generation model. AppleInsider reports that the big-box store’s weekly ad for February 12-18 touts the 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi as being priced at only $429—a $70 discount off the typical retail price—and notes that “all iPads [are] on sale”. The promotion is being offered on a “while supplies last” basis, suggesting that the sale may be part of a move by the retailer to clear out inventory ahead of the new model’s arrival. Apple is expected to announce its next-generation iPad early next month.
Apple is said to be in “crunch mode” when it comes to picking the apps it will demonstrate on-stage at the launch of its next-generation iPad and feature in new advertisements for the device. Citing sources with knowledge of the matter, The Next Web reports that the process of soliciting demonstrations from app developers and picking demonstrations to use at the live event is continuing at an increased rate as Apple seeks to finalize its lineup. As expected, the report claims that the company is focused on graphics-oriented applications with high-definition assets that will be able to take advantage of the device’s expected Retina display. The report goes on to say that some apps are being forwarded to TWBA/Chiat/Day for possible inclusion in the initial commercial spots, with that process entering its final phase, as well.
A German court has rejected a request from Apple to block sales of Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1N tablet in Germany. Citing the news agency dapd, the AP reports that a state court in Duesseldorf rejected Apple’s request for an injunction barring sales of the tablet, which is itself a modified version of the Galaxy 10.1 tablet that Samsung is barred from selling in Germany due to its similarity to the iPad. This latest ruling stated that Samsung had changed the design to the extent that the 10.1N did not breach Apple’s rights or German competition laws.
Following yesterday’s appearance of photos showing a purported iPad 3 back panel, a number of new images of a similar part have appeared online, joined by several new rumors. Citing unnamed sources, AllThingsD reports that Apple will debut the iPad 3 in the first week of March at a special event in San Francisco. The typically well-connected publication speculates that the event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and that the device itself will be available roughly one week following the event. Separately, The Verge—again citing unnamed sources—claims that the A6 CPU found inside the iPad 3 is not a quad-core chip, but instead a dual-core model like its A5 predecessor, contrary to a prior report citing code found in iOS 5.1. Notably, code found in new iPhone carrier profiles suggests that iOS 5.1 will be released on March 9.
In terms of images, Cult of Mac has posted a number of high-resolution photos of purported iPad 3 components, including multiple shots of a back panel that appears to be mostly identical to the one pictured yesterday. In addition, Apple.pro (Translated Link) has posted additional photos of a similar back shell part, while Macotakara has posted an image of a purported Sharp-made LCD panel which is said to be made for the iPad 3. As previously reported by iLounge, the iPad 3 is expected to be largely similar to the iPad 2 in exterior design—although be ever-so-slightly thicker—but is also expected to sport a faster processor, an improved camera, and a Retina-class display.
Update: The New York Times’ Bits blog is now reporting—citing separate sources briefed on Apple’s plans—that the next-generation iPad will be unveiled at an event in early March, and that the device looks very similar to the current iPad 2.
A photo of a purported “iPad 3” rear housing has appeared online, and shows a number of small—but notable—changes between it and the iPad 2. According to Fix-iPhones’ RepairLabs, the new shell provides mounting holes for a smaller logic board, which the report suggests is to make more room for an even larger battery. Other differences in the two devices are said to include the camera hole and a different LCD mounting system. Notably, the report claims that the iPad 3 housing does not seem thicker than that of the iPad 3, but notes that it would be hard to prove without having both screens in place. Our sources have indicated that the iPad 3 will be very modestly thicker, a difference so small that it literally requires calipers to measure. [via AppleInsider]
Apple has asked a European telecommunication standards body to set basic rules governing how companies license their industry-standard patents. Citing a recently disclosed letter from Apple to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple said the telecommunications industry lacks consistent licensing schemes for the many patents necessary to make mobile devices, and offered suggestions for setting royalty rates.
In addition, the company claimed that the lack of clear guidelines for the licensing of patents on a fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory basis — otherwise known as Frand— has led many companies to demand abnormally high royalty rates from one another, and has thus led to patent infringement lawsuits. “It is apparent that our industry suffers from a lack of consistent adherence to Frand principles in the cellular standards arena,” wrote Bruce Watrous, VP and Chief IP Counsel with Apple. Apple has asked the body to set “appropriate” royalty rates for technology, relative to the number of industrywide patents required to make a device, and has also said that royalties shouldn’t be beyond a common base. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Motorola asked Apple to pay a royalty of 2.25 percent for sales of some iPhones and iPads, a deal that would have been worth over $1 billion in 2011 alone.
Motorola asked Apple to pay a potential royalty of 2.25 percent of sales for some iPhones and iPads last year, according to a new report. Citing a letter filed in a California court last month, the Wall Street Journal reports that Motorola had “demanded” the royalty for a license of its patents. According to the report, some consider the royalty—which would have accounted for more than $1 billion based on iPhone sales in 2011 alone—to be rather pricey, with IP consultant Florian Mueller saying that the high rate was likely offered only because Motorola is required to offer licenses on its industry-standard patents. “[Motorola] wants Apple to refuse it so they can pursue injunctions against Apple,” said Mueller. Notably, the letter does not specify which devices would be affected nor whether such an agreement would be retroactive.
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 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.”
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 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.
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 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 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 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.