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.
Apple organized a team in 2008 to crack down on the spread of knockoff iPods and iPhones in China, according to a new report. Citing a September 2008 memo from the Beijing embassy that was published online by WikiLeaks, CNN reports that despite Apple’s move, progress has been slow, as gadget piracy isn’t a high priority for the Chinese government. The report states that members of Apple’s global security team were recruited from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer after it executed a series of crackdowns on counterfeit Viagra production in Asia, and that former Pfizer security chief—and former FBI agent—John Theriault leads the team. It goes on to say that China’s Guangdong province has become a hub for manufacturing and selling counterfeit Apple products, as Apple manufacturing parter Foxconn operates factories there. According to the report, the Chinese counterfeit ring is also responsible for supplying knockoff goods to India, where officials had discovered shipments that came from China through Hong Kong.
OfficeTime Software has released an iOS version of its popular desktop time and expense tracking app. Aimed at consultants, freelancers, attorneys and other professionals who need to track their time for billing purposes, OfficeTime for iOS is designed to balance features and ease of use, making it simple and intuitive to enter time and expenses. The application includes support for multiple timers, easy switching between tasks and continuing timing in the background while using other iOS applications.
Advanced features include one-touch report generation by project or time period, tracking billable hours against fixed cost estimates and contracts and exporting reports and data to Microsoft Excel and Apple Numbers. OfficeTime for iOS can also synchronize data with OfficeTime for Mac and Windows including support for aggregating data from multiple iOS devices for team reporting and billing. OfficeTime for iOS is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $8. A free version is also available which provides limited projects and categories and excludes data export and desktop synchronization capabilities.
PopCap games has released the long awaited iPad version of its highly acclaimed Peggle arcade puzzle game. Optimized for the larger iPad display, Peggle HD provides the same basic game play and features from the iPhone and iPod touch version, where players must clear pegs from the board by launching a ball into the playing field and hitting the pegs either directly or rebounding off other objects. Four different game styles are available: the classic campaign-style Adventure mode, Quick Play, two-player Duel mode and Challenge mode. Players can train with the usual ten Peggle Masters to learn special magical skills for different levels and progress through 55 levels and 40 Grand Master Challenges. Peggle HD is available from the App Store for $3.
G5 Entertainment has released Virtual City Playground HD, a sequel to the company’s popular city-building game introduced last fall. Virtual City Playground is an expanded version of the previous game adding 87 new quests, over 90 new buildings and landmarks and Facebook and Game Center integration. Players can build their own open-ended city in a see sandbox mode with no predefined goals or take on any of the optional scenarios for more challenges.
Virtual City HD also incorporates a new freemium model with In-App Purchases that can be used to buy in-game currency, city credits and invest points to progress more quickly in the game and access additional content. Game Center integration allows users to post high scores and achievements and users can also share their achievements on Facebook to earn invest points. G5 Entertainment also plans to release additional regular free updates to offer more content, game mechanics and improved social integration. Virtual City Playground HD is available from the App Store as a free download.
Comex, founder of the browser-based jailbreak tool JailbreakMe and major figure in the jailbreak community, has announced that he will soon be starting an internship with Apple. “It’s been really, really fun, but it’s also been a while and I’ve been getting bored,” he wrote in a Twitter update. “So, the week after next I will be starting an internship with Apple.” It’s unclear what type of position the coder might hold with Apple, but given his background, it seems likely that his expertise may be used to discover and plug vulnerabilities in iOS and in mobile Safari in particular. [via 9to5Mac]
Samsung has filed its opposition to Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the United States, and in doing so has cited a sci-fi classic as evidence that the iPad’s design existed well before Apple’s patent covering it. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents reports that in its briefing, Samsung cited a pair of devices shown during Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as valid prior art for a certain iPad-related design patent. “In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers,” the briefing reads. “As with the design claimed by the D’889 Patent, the tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table’s surface), and a thin form factor.” While the actors are seen interacting with the tablets as they would static video screens, the scene does not show the devices running an OS, applications of any sort, or otherwise performing other tasks one would associate with an iPad. The clip is available for viewing below. [via MDN]
Taiwan-based Radiant Opto-Electronics is set to become the major supplier of backlight units for the iPad 3, according to a new report. Citing anonymous industry sources, DigiTimes reports that LG Display will be the largest supplier of LCD panels for the next-generation iPad, while Samsung and Sharp will also be counted on as LCD suppliers. The report claims that Samsung relies on Radiant for all its backlights for iPad 3 panels, while Radiant’s backlights account for over half the backlights needed by LG, and will also be used in some of Sharp’s panels, although Sharp also sources some of its panels from a Japan-based supplier. A report from late last week indicated that the iPad 3 will launch in early 2012 and will sport a high-resolution 2048 x 1536 display.
Apple has dropped its pricing on refurbished first-generation iPad units, offering them for as low as $299. As of the time of this writing, 16GB Wi-Fi only refurbished units are priced at $299—although currently out of stock—while 32GB units sell for $399 and 64GB models are priced at $499, with the latter pair listed as in stock and shipping within 24 hours. Wi-Fi + 3G models are also available and sell for a $100 premium over their Wi-Fi only counterparts.
Support for Japan’s earthquake warning system has been discovered in the latest beta release of iOS 5. 9 to 5 Mac reports that iOS 5 users in Japan can turn on an early earthquake notifications via a slider at the bottom of the iOS Notification Center settings pane. According to a Time magazine profile of the system from earlier this year, it provides warning messages to users from seconds to one to two minutes before the most damaging waves strike, giving them a chance to seek cover. As noted in the report, the new feature will likely replace third-party apps offering similar functionality.
Evernote has released a major update to its universal note management app for iOS devices adding support for creating and editing rich text notes, accessing shared notebooks and more. Evernote 4.1 now allows users with iOS 4.2 or later to add rich text styles, lists and links to notes as well as editing existing Evernote items containing simple styles; prior versions of Evernote could display rich-text content from Evernote, however users were limited to appending plain-text information to existing formatted notes. Additional new features include the ability to access notebooks shared by other users, view images in notes as a slideshow and search within individual notes.
The iPad version of the universal app also now sports a new look look and feel with the ability to pinch and zoom in the note list and select multiple notes for simplified sharing and deletion. The iPhone and iPod touch version also includes redesigned screens for creating and editing notes. Additionally, users with an Evernote Premium subscription can now also specify a password to lock the Evernote application on the device. Evernote is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download. An Evernote Premium subscription is required for some features and additional storage and can be purchased within the app for $5/month or $45/year.
Online music service Rdio has introduced a new Family Subscription Plan allowing users to purchase multiple Rdio Unlimited accounts for family members under a single subscription and at a discounted price. Rdio Unlimited accounts are designed for individual personal use and do not allow streaming of music from more than one device simultaneously; under the family plan each member gets their own separate Rdio Unlimited account with control over their own music collection, social network and other Rdio features.
Once subscribed to the Family Plan, the master user can invite users via e-mail to either create new accounts or link their existing accounts to the plan. Invitations are accepted either via the Rdio website or using the Rdio iOS app and users under the same Family Plan are automatically setup to follow each other on Rdio by default. Family Plans start at $18/month for two accounts with each additional account priced at $5/month extra. Recently updated with iPad support, the Rdio iOS app is available from the App Store as a free download.