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Apple pushing for smaller SIM standard

Apple has proposed a new SIM card standard smaller than the micro SIMs found in the iPhone 4 and iPad, according to Reuters. “We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to (European telecoms standards body) ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor—smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad,” Anne Bouverot, Orange’s head of mobile services, told the news agency. “They have done that through the standardisation route, through ETSI, with the sponsorship of some major mobile operators, Orange being one of them.” Bouverot added that the standardization process would take time and that the first devices to use the new standard could emerge next year.

Slacker Radio adds on-demand listening and iPad support

Slacker Radio has released an update to its iOS application adding a native iPad user interface and support for on-demand listening via a new Slacker Premium Radio subscription. The Slacker Radio iOS app allows users to listen to streamed music on their device from a wide selection of pre-defined stations that can be browsed by genre; users can also create their own custom stations to mix their favorite artists and genres and paid subscribers can cache stations for offline listening when no 3G or Wi-Fi data connection is available.

In addition to the Basic and Plus subscriptions, Slacker Radio has added a new Premium subscription level that allows users to search for and play songs, albums and artists on demand. Premium users can also build custom playlists from songs found on Slacker stations. Slacker Radio is now a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download. Use of the app requires a minimum free Slacker Radio Basic subscription which provides ad-supported listening to streamed stations; paid Plus ($4/month) or Premium ($10/month) subscriptions can be purchased in-app to remove adds and provide additional features such as unlimited song skips, station caching, news radio, song lyrics and on-demand listening.

Parrot announces racing game for AR.Drone

Parrot has announced a new upcoming racing game in the lineup of iOS apps for its iOS-controlled AR.Drone Quadricopter. AR.Race will allow one to four pilots with iOS devices and AR.Drones to challenge themselves and each other on up to five different customizable racing circuits. Optional props will be available to set up challenging circuits for the different race styles including inflatable items, pylons, a finishing line and a donut. A basic race option will be available that can be used without props; a simple tap on the hull of the AR.Drone is used to indicate the end of a tour. More sophisticated circuits use the AR.Drone camera to identify props and will challenge players to avoid obstacles, round pylons and fly through the donut before crossing the finishing line, with times automatically recorded by the app. Users can position the pylons in relation to other natural obstacles such as trees to create multiple circuits, slaloms and more complicated courses. Players can also optionally toggle the piloting assistance option to enable the AR.Drone to make high-speed turns during a race. AR.Race is scheduled to be released on June 7th as a free download from the App Store; optional accessories will include a pack of two pylons and one finishing line for $60 and a single donut for $50 and will be available from the Parrot Online Store.

Samsung to show high-res tablet screen prototype

Samsung has announced that it will be demonstrating a 10.1-inch, 2560x1600 display at the SID Display Week 2011 International Symposium, which runs from May 17-19. According to the release, the display uses PenTile RGBW technology, which allows for the 300 dpi resolution. “Samsung’s PenTile display technology is the only display technology that operates at 40 percent less power yet provides twice that of Full HD-viewing performance for consumers compared to legacy RGB stripe LCDs. There is no other commercial display technology on the market today that offers this high of a resolution and pixel density in a 10.1-inch size display,” said Dr. Sungtae Shin, Senior VP of Samsung Electronics. As noted by TUAW, while the screen size and pixel density do appear to confirm that an iPad-sized Retina Display is possible, it is extremely unlikely that Apple would use this particular part in a future iPad, due to its larger size and resolution beyond that of a pixel-doubled iPad display.

Backflip Studios releases Army of Darkness Defense

Backflip Studios has released a new casual defense game for iOS based on the cult classic movie Army of Darkness. In Army of Darkness Defense, players take on the role of Ash, the time-travelling sales clerk who must defend Lord Arthur’s castle from hordes of evil undead and protect the Necronomicon in order to return home. The game uses a tug-of-war play style with fully animated graphics, an original music score and dozens of quotes from the movie voiced by Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams. The player can summon a wide variety of allies and special abilities to assist in the castle’s defense and must fight their way through fifty initial waves with an optional unlockable endless wave at the end. Awards and leaderboards are available through Game Center integration. Separate versions are available and both are on sale for a limited time; Army of Darkness for the iPhone and iPod touch is currently priced at $1 and Army of Darkness HD for iPad users currently sells for $3.

The Omni Group releases OmniOutliner for iPad

The Omni Group has released the much-anticipated iPad version of OmniOutliner, its popular outlining and note-taking app for the Mac. OmniOutliner for iPad provides users with the ability to collect and organize structured information ranging from to-do lists and agendas to laying out basic project plans and writing outlines. The application provides rich-text support with a simplified styling system, easy rearranging and grouping of rows and multiple column formats supporting numbers, text, pop-ups lists and more. Images can be pasted directly into OmniOutliner documents for inline display and the app supports inline notes and active linking of URLs to web content and other supported iOS data types.

OmniOutliner documents are completely interchangeable with OmniOutliner 3 on the Mac and can be transferred over USB via iTunes File Sharing, e-mailed or uploaded to MobileMe or other WebDAV servers. Documents can also be exported to and sent out in dynamic HTML, plain text or Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) for sharing with other users. The iPad version also provides for direct import of OPML files. OmniOutliner for iPad requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $20. The app can be used as a standalone application or along with OmniOutliner for Mac, sold separately.

50% of iPad mag subscribers opt-in for personal info sharing

Nearly half of all iPad users who purchase a magazine subscription through the App Store are allowing Apple to share personal information with the publisher. Forbes reports that the figure, which came from Mark Edmiston, founder of the tablet magazine studio Nomad Editions, has been confirmed by Apple’s vice president of Internet services Eddy Cue. “So, all the sudden, what was an insurmountable obstacle no longer is,” said Edmiston. The surprising statistic may present a large part of the answer as to why more publishers are choosing to offer subscriptions for iPad versions of their magazines via the App Store; the presumed lack of access to this information was cited as a point of contention in Apple’s negotiations with publishers. [via Mac Rumors]

iPad 2 exhibiting gamma issues during video playback?

A number of iPad 2 users are reporting color gamma issues during video playback. Based on the user observations in an Apple Support Communities discussion as well as on the iLounge Forums, the problem is apparent across apps and different video formats, manifests itself as an extreme loss in contrast, and is even more noticeable when the device is connected to a larger display via Apple’s Digital AV Adapter, an issue that was noted in our review. The users do report that changing the orientation of the device appears to fix the issue for a brief moment, but no permanent solution has yet been found; it is likely that the issue can be fixed via an iOS software update.

CBC TV adds AirPlay Video

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has added AirPlay video support to its official iPad app making it among the first major network television providers to allow wireless video streaming from the iPad to an HDTV. CBC TV provides iPad users with on-demand access to such popular CBC programs as Dragons’ Den, Republic of Doyle, Being Erica and the Rick Mercer Report. With the latest version, iOS 4.3 users can now stream video content from the app directly to an Apple TV using AirPlay. Additional new features include improvements to location detection and network, stability and graphic performance. CBC TV 1.1 is available from the Canadian App Store as a free download. AirPlay video support requires iOS 4.3 or later and an Apple TV running Software version 4.2 or later.

Adobe releases Photoshop Touch apps for iPad

Following last week’s release of Photoshop CS5.5, Adobe’s Photoshop Touch apps for the iPad have now appeared on the App Store. Originally announced last month, the new Photoshop Touch SDK allows third-party developers to create mobile and tablet apps that integrate with Photoshop running on a Mac or Windows PC. To demonstrate this new functionality, Adobe has developed three of its own companion apps for the iPad.

Adobe Color Lava for Photoshop ($3) allows users to create custom colours and colour themes by mixing colours on the iPad touchscreen to create custom swatches and five-swatch themes. Custom colours and themes can be saved on the iPad and accessed within Photoshop CS5 using a Wi-Fi connection between the iPad and the desktop computer. Adobe Eazel for Photoshop ($5) acts as a drawing pad to allow iPad users to create paintings on the touchscreen that can be sent from the iPad into Photoshop CS5 for further processing. The app incorporates a new painting technology with a unique interaction between “wet” and “dry” paint that allows for more advanced painting techniques.

The third app, Adobe Nav for Photoshop ($2) turns the iPad into a control pad for Photoshop CS5 running on a desktop computer. Nav connects to Photoshop over Wi-Fi and allows users to access various Photoshop tools and select open documents using the iPad touchscreen as a control surface. Users can customize the Photoshop CS5 toolbar on the iPad to access their most-used functions and browse, reorder, view and zoom in on up to 200 open Photoshop documents. All three apps are now available from the App Store and require an iPad running iOS 4.3 or later and Adobe Photoshop CS5 version 12.0.4 or later on the desktop.

Apple in talks with Nuance over iOS 5 voice tech?

Apple is reportedly in talks with Nuance Communications over the use of its voice recognition services in iOS 5. Citing multiple anonymous sources, TechCrunch reports that Apple has been in talks with Nuance for months, possibly over an acquisition, but more likely over a far-reaching licensing agreement and or partnership. As noted in the report, Siri, the voice-based personal assistance and search service acquired by Apple in April 2010, relies on Nuance technology for its services; Siri technology is said to play a large role in iOS 5, and the report claims that Apple has yet to successfully renegotiate the original deal between Siri and Nuance. The report cites Nuance’s $6 billion market cap as a major obstacle in any acquisition talks, as much of this value comes from the company’s various licensing deals, many of which could potentially dry up should Apple take control of the company. Nuance also develops a number of iOS apps, which it sells under its Dragon brand.

Update: According to a second report from TechCrunch, Apple has reached a deal with Nuance that will allow it to run and build upon Nuance’s software at its new data center in North Carolina. The deal will enable Apple to process voice information for iOS users more quickly, and prevent such data from going through third-party servers.

Amazon Cloud Player now streaming to iOS devices

Amazon has quietly updated the Cloud Player music component of its Cloud Drive online storage service, allowing for playback over iOS devices using the Safari browser. Launched in late March, Cloud Player gives users to access both MP3 and AAC files stored using the Cloud Drive service, allowing for browser-based playback. As noted by Engadget and confirmed in iLounge’s brief testing, the feature appears to work well, with a small but notable delay between song selection and the beginning of playback. Playlist management features also work, and, surprisingly, the Cloud Player also works well with iOS’ multitasking audio controls. To utilize the new offering, iOS users simply need to navigate to their Cloud Player from within Safari.

LG displays to blame for iPad 2 shortages?

Problems at LG Displays’ production lines may have played a part in Apple’s struggle to meet demand for the iPad 2, according to a new report. Citing anonymous industry sources, DigiTimes reports that Samsung shipped a total of four million 9.7-inch IPS panels for iPads in the first quarter, outpacing the 3.2 million delivered by LG Displays. LG is said to have forcibly reduced its first quarter shipments due to a light leakage problem with panels produced at its 6G production lines, although the problem is said to have been fixed. A number of iPad 2 owners reported problems with backlight light leakage shortly after the device’s release. The report also notes that Chimei Innolux has been selected as a supplier of iPad 2 IPS display panels, but is still awaiting verification from Apple, and is expected to start shipping panels this month. A prior report indicated that Innolux had been added by Apple as a third supplier of touchscreen sensors for the iPad 2.

iPad 2 launches in China to long lines, scalpers

Apple today officially launched the iPad 2 in China to lengthy lines. M.I.C. Gadget reports that the Apple Store in Beijing sold out in just four hours, while AppleInsider notes that online orders opened with a shipping estimate of one to two weeks. Both reports indicate that scalpers were seen in line and outside of the store, where they were selling units for a markup of 200-400 yuan (roughly $30-$60) over the regular prices, which start at 3688 yuan (~$568). Notably, only iPad 2 with Wi-Fi models were available, as the 3G model has yet to launch in the country. Apple COO Tim Cook said during the company’s recent Q2 2011 Financial Results Conference Call that Apple’s focus has very much been on China, where the company saw a “sea change” in sales last quarter; revenue from China was over $5 billion for the first half of the year.

Remember the Milk for iPad now available

Online task management service Remember the Milk has released an update to its iOS application adding native iPad support. Remember the Milk 2.0 introduces a completely redesigned user interface for the iPad using a gesture-rich sliding panel interface for viewing categories, task lists and task details on the larger screen. The app syncs all data bi-directionally with the Remember the Milk online service, storing tasks, notes, lists, Smart Lists, tags and more for offline use when no Internet connection is available. Users of the free Remember the Milk service can synchronize manually once per day, while users with a “Pro” subscription can take advantage of immediate automatic sync with iOS 4 background completion and push notifications for badge counts and task reminders.

On the iPad, tasks can be completed or postponed using two-finger swipe gestures and users can slide task list, detail and note panels to reposition them or slide a panel off the right edge of the screen to close it. Remember the Milk 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download. A Remember the Milk account is required to use the app; automatic synchronization and push notifications require a $25/year “Pro” subscription. More details are available on the company’s blog.

Photosmith delivers iPad photo workflow for Lightroom users

C2 Enterprises has released a new app designed to help iPad users collect and organize photos on the go, share content on social media services and sync the resulting collections to Adobe Lightroom. Photosmith provides the ability to organize, rate, tag and label photos imported from sources such as the iPad Camera Connection Kit and includes support for JPEG and Canon & Nikon RAW files. Users can view detailed EXIF information such as ISO and shutter speed and set titles, captions, descriptions and IPTC metadata. Photos can be viewed at full 100% zoom to check detail and the app supports sharing photos via Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox or e-mail in various resolutions.

A free Lightroom plug-in allows users to transfer photos from their iPad to Lightroom via Wi-Fi and sync collections, keywords, ratings, labels, EXIF and IPTC information in the process. Photos can also be imported using the standard iPad USB for better performance with metadata subsequently synced to Lightroom via Wi-Fi. Changes made in Lightroom are also synchronized back to the iPad and Lightroom keywords are automatically transferred to the iPad so they can be easily applied while on the go. Photosmith requires an iPad running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $18.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.3, fixes location bug

Apple has released iOS 4.3.3, the latest version of its mobile operating system for the iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM), iPod touch 3G, and iPod touch 4G. According to Apple’s release notes, the update contains changes to the iOS crowd-sourced location database cache; the update reduces the size of the cache, no longer backs up the cache to iTunes, and deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off. The database in question was the cause of a recent uproar over Apple’s supposed location tracking, leading the company to release a Q&A document in which it gave an explanation for the cache, and blamed its large size on a “bug.” iOS 4.3.3 is available now via the Update feature in iTunes; a similar update, iOS 4.2.8, is also available for the CDMA iPhone 4.

ColorWare expands custom coloring service to iPad 2

ColorWare is now offering its custom coloring service for the iPad 2. The company is offering customers two ways to get the service, either by purchasing a unit directly from them—prices start at $900—or by sending in their own and paying $400. Through the service, users will be able to pick individual custom colors for the rear shell, logo, and Home button, each available in glossy or soft touch finishes. ColorWare’s custom coloring services for the iPad 2 are available now.

Apple airs new iPad 2 spot ‘If You Asked’

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Apple has begun airing its latest TV advertisement for the iPad 2. Entitled “If You Asked,” the 30-second spot shows iPad 2 units in a variety of settings with task-specific apps, while the narrator states, “If you ask a parent, they might call it intuitive. If you ask a musician, they might call it inspiring. To a doctor, it’s groundbreaking. To a CEO, it’s powerful. To a teacher, it’s the future. If you ask a child, she might call it magic. And if you asked us, we’d say it’s just getting started.” The new commercial is now available for viewing on Apple’s website.

SK Telecom, KT halt online iPad 2 orders

South Korean carriers SK Telecom and KT have halted online orders for the iPad 2 in the wake of high demand. Reuters reports that the carriers, which began accepting orders for the device last week, declined to share sales numbers but indicated that the move was spurred by tight supplies. “Our iPad 2 inventory has been depleted and we apologize for failing to provide enough supplies due to the product’s global supply shortages,” SK Telecom said in a posting on its website. Apple launched the iPad 2 in South Korea, as well as Hong Kong, India, Israel, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey and the UAE last Friday.

Update: 9 to 5 Mac notes that the Apple Online Store in Singapore has stopped accepting orders for the both the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models of the iPad 2, perhaps indicating a more widespread shortage of the device.

Update x2: Apple’s online store in Hong Kong is also listing all models of the iPad 2 as “currently unavailable.”

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