SkyGrid has released an redesigned version of its iOS news aggregator app improving the user interface and navigation. SkyGrid 2.2 now allows users to select the Photo Grid view across all sections and provides a separate Following Grid for every source and topic being followed. Image quality has also been improved throughout the app and users can now swipe between home screens and take advantage of more seamless scrolling to view additional stories. The new version also includes an updated Choose Your Interested Guide providing more content and allows users to add more topics or sources to their following grid from any page simply by tapping on the green ribbon in the top right corner. SkyGrid is available from the App Store as a free download.
New code discovered in Apple’s iChat instant messaging client suggests that the company is preparing to add iMessage support to the app. Citing information provided by a developer, Mac Rumors reports that the version of iChat in OS X Lion contains properties for “_timeDelivered” and “_timeRead,” suggesting that the application will offer the tracking of delivery and read receipts for instant messages. Such features, however, are not offered by any of iChat’s current native messaging services, but are offered by iMessage. As noted in the report, support for iMessage in OS X Lion would allow Mac users and iOS 5 users to exchange messages with one another in real time, and would serve as a compliment to Apple’s FaceTime video chat service, which also allows for direct communication between Macs and iOS devices.
Parallels has updated the iOS companion application for its recently released Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac adding support for remote control of the Parallels host Mac in the same manner as remotely controlling virtual machines. The new version also adds audio support, allowing users to play back music and audio remotely from the host Mac or other virtual machine, and iOS clipboard support for copying and pasting text between the iOS device and the remote computer. Additional improvements in the update include better support for external displays and keyboards, the ability to limit connections to Wi-Fi only, and a number of general stability, performance and usability improvements. Parallels Mobile is a universal app requiring iOS 4.0 or later and is currently available from the App Store for an introductory price of $5, reduced from the normal price of $20. The app requires Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac or later; remote control of the host Mac requires Parallels Desktop 7.
Both Samsung and Apple have filed new patent infringement suits against each other in France and the UK, respectively. Samsung’s suit, filed in a Paris district court, accuses Apple of infringing three Samsung patents related to UMTS technology, and specifically targets the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and 3G-enabled iPad and iPad 2 models. Apple’s suit against Samsung was filed in the UK; details on it are scarce, as the patents in question have not yet been identified. Finally, Samsung has also filed an appeal against a German ruling from last week that saw sales of its Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet barred in the country. Samsung and Apple are involved in a large number of patent disputes worldwide.
Apple intends on releasing its eighth beta version of iOS to registered developers this Friday, according to a new report. Citing a trusted source, Boy Genius Report claims that following the release of iOS 5 beta 8, Apple plans to release the Gold Master (GM) build of the software on or around September 23, and that that build will be loaded onto already-assembled iPhone 5 hardware that is waiting for final software. Finally, the report claims that Apple will then request carrier partners to give technical acceptance to the GM by October 5, although it remains unclear what Apple plans to do should the GM fail to receive acceptance.
Cocoa Box Design has released an update to Penultimate, its digital ink notebook app for the iPad, adding support for importing images and improving the wrist protection features. Penultimate 3.1 now allows users to insert photos and images directly onto notebook pages from either the iOS photo library or the iPad 2 camera. Images can be moved, resized and rotated using standard touch gestures and users can also make handwritten notes on top of an image which will move with the picture as it is repositioned on the page. A new paper collection, “Photo Pages” has also been added as an optional in-app purchase to provide several simple, useful templates for photo albums that provide automatic layout features when working with images.
The update also improves the application’s Wrist Protection feature making it more natural for a wider variety of stylus users, particularly left-handed users and those with unusual writing grips. Users can now simply select their preferred writing position from an illustrated settings panel to avoid inadvertent wrist interaction while working with a stylus. Penultimate 3.1 is available from the App Store for $1.
Bloom Studio has released a major update to Planetary, its visual music explorer for the iPad. Part visualizer, part music player, Planetary allows users to explore their music collection as a 3D trip through the galaxy, zooming in on artists displayed as solar systems, albums as planets, and tracks as moons. Version 2.0 adds several significant graphical enhancements with new galaxy detail, solar flares, eclipses, atmospheric glow, accretion disks and more detailed textures for planets and moons. Additional graphic detail has also been added for the more powerful iPad 2 capabilities.
The new version also the ability to select playlists and toggle shuffle and repeat modes directly within the app along with automatic camera motion during playback, gyroscope support for the iPad 2 and scale and speed sliders to adjust the view. Several bug fixes and performance issues have also been addressed in the update. Planetary is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has won another court battle in its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung. Reuters reports that a German court has upheld an injunction barring Samsung from selling its Galaxy 10.1 tablets in Germany. In the ruling, Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hoffman said that the overall impression of the Tab 10.1 was too similar to the iPad, stating that it “is distinguished by its smooth, simple areas.” The decision limits retailers to sales of existing stock and or obtaining new supplies from Samsung’s parent company Samsung International. Samsung can object to the decision.
Update: A follow-up report from GigaOM indicates that this seems to be the result of a technical glitch rather than an actual policy change, citing an e-mail from Netflix VP of Corporate Communications Steve Swasey in which he stated that “No Netflix member is limited to less than two concurrent streams. A few Netflix members have heard differently from us, which is an error that we are correcting.”
The iPad 3 will feature a thinner, lighter battery module, according to a new report. Citing Institutional investors, the Taiwan Economic News reports that the component, expected to be manufactured by Simplo Techonology and Dynapack International Technology, is also expected to cost 20-30 percent more than the same component int he iPad 2, and will also offer a longer service life. Notably, a recent Digitimes report claimed that the iPad 3’s expected high-resolution, 2048 x 1536 display requires a much larger backlight than prior models, which may offset thickness gains earned from using a thinner battery. In addition, the report claims that the new battery will be required to meet CTIA IEEE 1625 standards for better quality and safety reliability, with deliveries to begin in the fourth quarter of this year. [via AppleInsider]
Verizon Wireless has started to air its own TV advertisement for the iPad 2. The 30-second spot highlights the use of the Verizon model’s 3G connection to download books, stay connected when away from Wi-Fi, post to Twitter, and take pictures. The new spot is available for viewing on YouTube or in embedded form below. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple is using two Taiwanese companies as suppliers for the iPhone 5’s camera lens, according to The Taiwan Economic News. The report claims that Taiwan-based Largan Precision and Genius Electronic Optical will share orders for lenses for the iPhone 5’s expected eight-megapixel camera, with Largan supplying a slightly larger portion. According to the report, the two companies also shared orders for the iPhone 4’s five-megapixel lens and the iPad 2’s higher-resolution lens, while Genius is said to produce nearly all the VGA lenses for iPhones and iPads.
Video game specialty retailer game stop may soon begin offering the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad in its stores, according to a new report. Citing several unnamed sources, 9to5Mac reports that the announcement was made to dealers at a recent trade show in Las Vegas. GameStop also recently began accepting iOS device trade-ins for store credits, and may be planning to offer used products before phasing in new offerings. Such a move by GameStop would likely bolster iOS’ growing reputation as a viable gaming platform.
Apple has received regulatory approval for the WCDMA-compatible Wi-Fi + 3G model of the iPad 2 in China, according to a Wall Street Journal report. China’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center has issued the network license required for official sales to an Apple device with 3G wireless data capabilities, listed as model number A1396—the same model number as the standard GSM iPad 2. The report notes that the model is already available through the company’s partners in Hong Kong, where it will soon open its first retail store in the upscale IFC mall, but that sales in mainland China have been limited to the Wi-Fi-only models. When released the 3G iPad 2 will be compatible with and will likely be sold by Apple’s current iPhone parter China Unicom.
Vito Technology has released an update to Solar Walk adding support for displaying content on an external 3D TV. Solar Walk is a 3D interactive virtual model of our solar system that allows users to navigate through space and time exploring the planets and their moons along with several of Earth’s satellites and hundreds of named places on Earth’s Moon, Mars, Earth and Venus. A Time Machine feature allows users to adjust time back or forward moving planets and satellites along their real trajectories. Version 1.8 adds support for connecting to an external screen including 3D TV support along with 3D models of Earth’s ten main satellites with real-time trajectories and more detailed Earth textures. The update also adds three new educational movies: Tidal Phenomena, Major Circles of Latitude and Zodiacal Constellations. Solar Walk 1.8 is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $3.
Hulu has released an update to Hulu Plus adding limited support for displaying video content on an external display over HDMI on the iPad 2. With the release of the iPad 2 in March, Hulu Plus was originally able to provide HDMI output via the new display mirroring feature, however the company quickly moved to block this capability, releasing an update in April that disabled display mirroring when using the Hulu Plus application, presumably due to content licensing restrictions.
The release of Hulu Plus 2.4 adds HDMI output capabilities back into the application; rather than using the display mirroring feature, however, the app sends a separate, standard-definition video stream to an HDMI connected display. The update also adds the ability to save an entire season to the queue, adds closed captioning support to some content and renames “Subscriptions” to “Favorites.” Hulu Plus 2.4 is available from the App Store as a free download. HDMI output requires the Apple Digital AV Adapter and an iPad 2.
Apple has started to air its latest TV commercial for the iPad 2. Entitled “Learn,” the 30-second advertisement is similar in tone to the company’s prior iPad 2 commercials, and features a voiceover by Peter Coyote which states, “Are you curious about new ideas? Do you want to learn a new language, or just a new word? Maybe you want to know more about anatomy, or astronomy. You could master something new, or uncover a hidden talent. There’s never been a better time to learn.” The new commercial is available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Apple has seeded its seventh beta version of iOS 5 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch to registered developers. Listed as build 9a5313e, the release is also available as an over-the-air update for devices running the prior beta, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 7 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Electronic Arts has released Surviving High School HD, an iPad version of its popular choice-based role-playing game. First released for the iPhone and iPod touch nearly two years ago, Surviving High School has provided unique, ongoing playability by providing a storyline and framework in which the developer releases new episodic content each week allowing the player to experience new stories and adventures in the lives of a group of high school and college students in the fictional town of Centerscore.
Providing the same general gameplay as the original, Surviving High School HD also introduces two new iPad-specific game features that appear when playing in landscape mode. A new “Faceplace” section provides a fictional Facebook-style news feed where in-game characters post their thoughts as the game progresses while a Decision Tree section adds a full diagram showing the current scene and possible story branches and allows the player to skip back to specific scenes once they’ve completed an episode. As with the original version, the game begins with the included “Football Season” story and continues each week with new episodic content. Users can access the current week’s “Now Airing” episode for free or purchase previous episodes from an “On-demand” section. The application also displays a new illustrated episode timeline unique to the iPad, showing each episode in thumbnail form. Unfortunately, in-app purchases made in the iPhone version of Surviving High School are not transferable to the new iPad version and must be purchased separately, although previous seasons are available in discounted content packs. Surviving High School HD is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has started to offer a limited selection of refurbished iPad 2 units on its online store. Currently, the models offered include 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G models on AT&T and Verizon, 64GB Wi-Fi only models, and 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G models on both AT&T and Verizon. Each model is priced at $50 less than retail, making the prices for the three models mentioned above $679, $649, and $779, respectively. It is not clear how much stock Apple has, although it is likely that these more expensive models will be joined by more affordable 16GB and 32GB units in the coming weeks.