Pulse has released an update to its popular visual news reader for iOS devices adding support for Pulse.me, its new offline reading service. Pulse allows users to view and explore their RSS feeds in a unique and engaging way by displaying articles in a series of interactive thumbnail views rather than the list format used by many other RSS apps. With the introduction of the new Pulse.me service, users can now quickly and easily save stories for later reading which can then be viewed on any other Pulse-enabled device or via the Pulse.me web site. Users can create a Pulse.me account directly in the Pulse app using Facebook Connect or their own unique Pulse.me username and can then save stories simply by starring them within the app. Pulse.me also provides optional integration with Instapaper, Evernote, Read It Later and Google Reader, allowing users to simultaneously save their starred items to these services as well. Pulse News for iPhone and Pulse News for iPad are available separately from the App Store as free downloads.
Acrylic Software has updated its distinctive Pulp newsreader for the iPad adding the ability to sync with Pulp for Mac. Pulp provides users with a customizable newspaper-style view of their RSS feeds, grouping articles into pages that allow users to quickly scan through headlines, previews and photos. Users can create their own categories to organize their pages and customize the column layout and presentation of each page. The latest version now allows users to synchronize pages, feeds and read articles between the iPad and Mac versions of the app via a free Pulp Sync account. The update also adds a home screen badge to display the number of new articles, the ability to search feeds based on title or keyword, swipe gestures for moving between articles and support for saving articles to Readability. Pulp for the iPad requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5. Pulp for Mac is sold separately and is currently available from the Mac App Store for an introductory price of $10.
Junecloud, developer of the popular Delivery Status touch app has released Notefile, a new light-weight note-taking app for iOS devices. Notefile is a universal app that allows iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to quickly take notes and sync them across multiple devices and the web. Notes are synced automatically via an SSL-secured connection with the Junecloud web service where they can be accessed from any web browser or on a Mac using a free dashboard widget. Delivery Status touch users can also use their Junecloud account to manage both Notefile and Delivery Status tracking info in one place. Notefile also provides integration with SmileOnMyMac’s TextExpander app for snippet expansion when composing notes. Notefile is available from the App Store for $5; a Mac dashboard widget is also available as a free download from the developer’s web site. Users must register for a free account at junecloud.com/sync to sync notes between devices.
Foxconn has reopened its Chengdu, China plant following an explosion last month that killed three employees and injured numerous others. AllThingsD reports that the company has also concluded its investigation into the incident, but has yet to release the results. The upper floors of the building are home to iPad 2 production lines, which had been shut down since the May 20 incident; Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White said in a note to clients—quoted by AllThingsD—that the factory had yet to reach its optimal utilization rate due to component shortages, thus making the impact of the explosion less damaging to iPad 2 supplies than it could have been.
Apple has released an update to GarageBand for the iPad adding audio out support and the ability to import audio files. GarageBand 1.0.1 now supports audio output via AirPlay, Bluetooth A2DP and HDMI using the Apple Digital AV Adapter and users can also now import AIFF, WAV and CAF audio files and Apple Loops directly into the app. Additional improvements include the ability to copy and paste audio clips into GarageBand from other supported apps on the iPad and several stability and performance fixes, including addressing an issue with GarageBand freezing when using Smart Instruments. GarageBand 1.0.1 requires an iPad running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.
Apple is using a little-known guideline document in an attempt to curb third-party iPad and iPhone giveaways, according to a new report. Fortune claims that Apple has only recently begun to reach out to companies in an attempt to enforce its Guidelines for Third Party Promotions, a document that has been around since at least last January. The rules for third-party promotions forbid the use of the iPad, iPhone, or iPhone Gift Card in a promotion, specify that the iPod touch can only be used in “special circumstances and requires a minimum purchase of 250 units,” forbid the use of the word “free” as a modifier for an Apple product name, and the use of Myriad Set font, and require that the promotion notes that “Apple is not a participant in or sponsor of this promotion.”
A pair of new reports suggest iOS 5 may receive system-level integration with Twitter. Citing multiple unnamed sources, TechCrunch reports that Apple will be a launch partner for Twitter’s new in-house photo sharing service, with options to share images to Twitter built directly into the OS—similar to the current YouTube video sharing integration—and a “Send to Twitter” button. In linking to the same story, John Gruber of Daring Fireball claims that it is “[s]o close to the bigger story, but yet so far[,]” and says to “Imagine what else the system could provide if your Twitter account was a system-level service.” Apple will unveil iOS 5 during its WWDC keynote adress, which begins Monday, June 6 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.
Apple has announced that its will unveil iCloud, its “upcoming cloud services offering,” during its traditional keynote address to open its Worldwide Developers Conference. According to the release, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executives will make appearances during the keynote, which will feature the unveiling of iCloud, as well as Mac OS X Lion—the eighth major release of Mac OS X—and iOS 5, the latest version of the software that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference will begin with the keynote address, to be held on Monday, June 6, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.
Apple may be considering offering a discount on an iPad 2 as an option in its yearly Back-to-School promotion, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous Apple source, Boy Genius Report claims that Apple’s now traditional promotion will be announced at WWDC next month. The promotion is said to include a free iPod touch or $229 towards the purchase of any other iPod with the purchase of a new Mac, but may also give customers the option of taking a $200 discount on a new iPad 2 unit instead. The report itself seems less than fully confident about the idea, however, and such a move would be highly unusual, as the promo is normally meant to help Apple clear out inventory of iPod units prior to their traditional September refresh, instead of serving as a way to boost sales of recently updated products such as the iPad 2.
Apple, along with AT&T and US Cellular, has been hit with a patent infringement lawsuit by Visual Interactive Phone Concepts (VIPC). In its case against Apple, VIPC is asserting two patents, both of which are entitled “videophone interactive mailbox facility system and method of processing information,” according to a FOSS Patents report. The complaint states that Apple infringes on the patents due to its sales of “mobile communication devices that are videophones,” and also names the App Store—“an application service for users to view, download and use applications on their videophones”—the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore as infringing entities, because they include “a central data center that facilitates the order and delivery of [apps, entertainment content, books, PDF documents, etc.].” Apple is accused of “intentional and willful infringement,” which, as the report notes, would result in treble damages should the court agree.
Apple will launch the iPad 2 in Russia, Brazil, and the Ukraine this Friday, May 27, according to various reports. RT reports that the iPad 2 will be available from Re:Store, MediaMarkt, Beliy Veter Cifrovoi, ION, Technosila, and Eldorado in Russia, with prices ranging from 18,990 rubles (roughly $668) for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model to 30,990 rubles (~$1,090) for the 64GB 3G model. Twitter user iJulianoR reports that the iPad 2 will launch in Brazil, but does not mention any further details, while UkrainianiPhone.com states (Translated Link) that iStore, MOYO, Comfy, and Foxtrot stores will carry the device in the Ukraine, with prices similar to those in Russia. [via 9 to 5 Mac]
Opera Software has released a major update to its Opera Mini Web Browser adding native iPad support alongside a significantly updated UI. Opera Mini is a replacement web browser for mobile devices that promises improved browsing performance and data cost savings by proxying requests through Opera’s servers and compressing and optimizing web content before delivering it to the mobile browser. Opera Mini 6 adds higher-resolution graphics and native support for the iPhone 4 Retina Display as well as the iPad and iPad 2 as well as UI performance improvements for zooming and panning on web pages. The new version also includes direct sharing on Facebook, Twitter and MyOpera, the ability to open new pages in a background tab and improved international font support for non-latin languages. Opera Mini 6 is available from the App Store as a free download.
The iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad collectively account for 80 percent of all wireless video viewing, according to the latest data from Internet video ad firm FreeWheel (PDF Link). During Q1 2011, the iPhone accounted for 30 percent of all wireless video views, as did the iPod touch. The iPad—despite its much smaller user base—accounted for 20 percent of wireless video views, tied with Google’s Android platform as a whole. FreeWheel attributes iOS’ overwhelming majority to its larger user base and the fact that “so many content producers prioritized their video development for this platform ahead of others.” Overall, wireless video viewing remains small—less than one percent—compared to online video viewing in general. FreeWheel’s data is comprised of 10 billion video views and 5.5 billion video ad views in Q1 2011 and is primarily U.S.-based. [via NYT]
Mobile payments startup Square has released a version 2.0 of its iOS application, which brings with it an expanded iPad-specific feature set the company is referring to as the Square Register. These new features allow sellers to customize their systems with product photos, prices, sortable categories, and create variations of specific items, accept cash payments, let regular customers set up tabs, publish their menus, and share daily specials. Tab functionality is enabled by the new Card Case feature, which allows buyers to setup tabs, find local stores and shops, browse daily specials and menus, and store all of their digital receipts in one place, and is accessible only after visiting a participating business. Square’s iOS app is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Apple over the weekend launched a significant revamp of its retail stores, replacing its paper-based information graphics with iPads. As noted by ifoAppleStore, there is now one iPad next to each major product in the stores, including Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, and the iPod touch, while smaller iPod models are mounted in groups with a single iPad. The iPads, which are mounted semi-permanently in clear acrylic, are running interactive software that can take customers through each product’s main features, and features a Specialist button that allows customers to request assistance, with an indication of where the customer is the queue of other people waiting.
In addition to the changes made at the retail stores, Apple also released version 1.3 of its Apple Store app for iOS. The update offers the ability to custom-configure a new Mac, and new in-store features that allow customers to request assistance from a Specialist, check on Genius Bar wait times and make appointments, and see when the next workshop is scheduled. The Apple Store app for iOS is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Yuri Vishnevsky, creator of experimental generative artwork site weavesilk.com has released an iPad app that allows users to create flowing interactive artwork using the iPad screen. Supported by an original soundscape created by Osmos music composer Mat Jarvis, Silk absorbs users into an ethereal experience where strands of colour spring from their fingertips. The app provides simple gesture-based controls for choosing colours, adjusting direction and clearing the canvas, and users can screenshot the results into the iPad photo library for creating wallpapers or sharing via e-mail or other online services. Silk requires an iPad running iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
An explosion has been reported at Foxconn’s Chengdu manufacturing plant, causing a number of casualties. Citing a variety of Chinese news sources, M.I.C. Gadget reports that the explosion occured around 7:00 p.m. local time in building A5 of the complex, and had that a doctor on the scene said he had already seen six or seven people injured, with more reports injury expected. According to the report, there were hundreds or more workers inside the building at the time of the explosion, which cause many materials to be thrown out of the building. The building is known to house iPad 2 production lines on its second, third, and fourth floors; it is unknown what affect the explosion may have had on the iPad 2-related equipment.
Update: The Wall Street Journal reports that two people were killed in the blast and sixteen injured, three seriously.
Square Enix has released Chaos Rings Omega, a prequel to last year’s Chaos Rings RPG. The new instalment reveals the backstory of the Arc Arena life-or-death tournament from 10,000 years earlier, laying the foundation for the events and setting of the original game. Chaos Rings Omega provides classic RPG game play on a rich 3D graphic interface ideal for the iPhone and iPod touch Retina Display. Players engage in turn-based battles in the Arc Arena to defeat enemy monsters, obtaining their magic and special attacks. The new game features a refined battle system from the prior version and will include free monthly content updates beyond this first version to add new features such as voice acting from top-quality Japanese talent, and the raising of level caps and addition of new secret bosses. The game is available in separate device-specific versions: Chaos Rings Omega ($12) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Chaos Rings Omega for iPad ($15).
A newly published Apple patent application suggests that the company may be planning to use small, locally-stored clips of media items stored in the cloud as an on-device buffer. Such a setup would allow for reduced media footprints on devices such as the iPod and iPhone, as only a short portion of each song or video—think an iTunes preview clip—would be stored locally, in order to give the device an opportunity to grab the rest of the item while reducing the possibility of playback pauses as media is retrieved from a server.
Entitled “Local Storage of a Portion of Streamed Media Items,” the patent describes “locally storing one or more clips corresponding to a media item such that the clips can be immediately played back in response to a user request to play back the media item. While the clips are played back, the electronic device can retrieve the remaining segments of the media item from the user’s media library as a media stream over a communications network. Once the playback of the clip is complete, the electronic device can seamlessly switch playback to the media stream received from the user’s library.” Notably, one of the images included with the patent shows an iTunes synchronization settings screen, in which an iPhone is set to “Sync partial music,” with a “Minimum Connection Speed” of 3G. As with all Apple patents, this application does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via AppleInsider]
Red Chair has released another major update for its highly acclaimed Infinity Blade for iOS devices, adding a third new content pack and a new multiplayer arena. With Infinity Blade: Arena players can now challenge their friends to multiplayer matches via Apple’s Game Center or play in Survivor mode and face off against a legion of Titans. The update also adds a set of new Holiday Helms for every season, two dozen new magic rings, swords, shields and helmets to collect and master. New achievements and more leaderboards are also now available as well as some additional surprises in the game. Infinity Blade 1.3 is a universal app and is currently available from the App Store for $3 for a limited time. The game requires an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later; it is recommended that users update to the latest version of iOS before playing the game, however.