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First iPad 2G case shows rear camera, new curves?

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Shenzhen MacTop Electronics, a Chinese manufacturer, is now offering what it claims is a case for the second-generation iPad. Dubbed the “Crystal Case for iPad 2nd Generation,” the case appears to have different, slimmer contours than the first-generation model, with the speaker opening unusually large on the back, and a hole for a rear-facing camera in the upper left-hand corner, similar to its position on the iPhone and fourth-generation iPod touch. Apple has yet to announce or even acknowledge the existence of a second-generation iPad, although recent rumors have pegged the device’s release as coming within the next 100 days.

Update: Following our initial report, a second case was spotted sporting the same camera hole and expanded speaker-area cutout as the first case; the text accompanying the second image suggests the cutout is for a new SD card slot. The unusual size and shape of the cutout would suggest either the placement of the SD card above the current speaker, realignment of the speaker closer to the new iPad’s back with the card slot in its former place, or potentially a new pop-out door akin to the ports on the first-generation MacBook Air. All three possibilities seem somewhat unlikely in light of recent Apple design decisions.

Update 2: We’ve added an article briefly discussing how a rear iPad camera could work relative to other iOS devices and tablet competitors.

Apple lowers prices on refurb iPads, adds 3G models

Apple has lowered its prices on its refurbished iPad Wi-Fi units while adding 3G offerings. Compared to the prior discount of $50 off retail for Wi-Fi models, the 16GB model is now $429, or $70 lower than retail units, while the 32GB and 64GB Wi-Fi models have seen their prices slashed to $499 and $599, respectively, a discount of $100 off retail. The refurbished Wi-Fi + 3G models are discounted $50 off of retail bringing their pricing to $579-$779. Apple first started selling refurbished iPads in September; all refurbished units include a standard one-year limited warranty.

NYT: iPad ads ‘sold out’ since app launch

Speaking today at the UBS Securities media conference, The New York Times Company digital manager Martin Nisenholtz said the company had been “sold out” on iPad advertisements since the paper’s app went live in the App Store. Barron’s reports that Times CEO Janet Robinson also made mention of the company’s plan to start a paid access model next year, saying that “users will get access to a set number of articles per month, but will be asked to pay after that,” and added that the Times will offer “packages” across “platforms,” which the article suggests may be referencing combined web and iPad/iPhone/tablet access. Robinson added that the company already has several commitments from advertisers for ads in its iPad app for 2011.

Apple now selling iPad Gift Card packages

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Apple’s retail stores are now offering “iPad Gift Card” packages for the holidays. As seen in our photos, the iPad gift cards aren’t specially-printed cards with iPad imagery on them, but instead appear to be standard Apple Store gift cards that have been placed inside iPad-specific packaging. Interestingly, customers weren’t initially able to purchase iPads with Apple Store gift cards, as company policy required users to pay with a debit or credit card.

iOS 4.2 reduces power output of iPad’s Dock Connector

iOS 4.2 reduces the maximum power output of the iPad Camera Connection Kit’s USB adapter, essentially breaking compatibility with some cameras and other devices, according to a new report. 9 to 5 Mac claims that Apple has reduced the maximum amount of power that the iPad’s 30-pin connector can emit from 100mA to 20mA, leaving many non self-powered devices, including keyboards, microphones, flash drives, and some cameras unable to connect. According to the report, connecting such a device under iOS 4.2 results in an alert that says “The connected USB device requires too much power.” As noted in the report, it is unknown whether this is a bug or a deliberate change by Apple, nor whether it will be remedied in a future software update.

Apple, publishers disagree on iTunes subscription terms

Apple is at a standstill in talks with magazine publishers over the terms of a potential iTunes subscription model, according to a new report. Citing anonymous publishing sources, AllThingsD reports that Apple is offering publishers the ability to sell app subscriptions through iTunes, 70 percent of revenue, and the ability to offer a simple opt-in form for gleaning name, address, and e-mail address. The publishers are apparently unhappy with the revenue split model, preferring to sell subscriptions themselves, but are more at odds over the lack of access to subscribers’ credit card data, which is valuable to them for marketing purposes and allows them to bundle the digital subscriptions with traditional print media. The report also notes that a News Corp. executive said the company’s upcoming iPad newspaper the Daily won’t launch until the first quarter of 2011, but expects it to showcase a new “push” feature from Apple that will allow new issues to be downloaded to an iPad automatically. Notably, News Corp. owns AllThingsD.

Orange, T-Mobile, 3 offer subsidized iPads in U.K.

  • December 3, 2010
  • iPad

As expected, Orange, T-Mobile, and 3 are now offering subsidized iPad 3G units in the U.K. Pricing on the subsidized units ranges from £199 for 16GB models to £349 for 64GB units with a 24 month contract; pricing for the iPad itself is consistent across carriers. Orange is offering a £27 monthly plan with 1GB of anytime and 1GB of “quiet time” data, the same plan is also being offered by T-Mobile. 3, meanwhile, is charging £25 a month for 15GB of data.

JPMorgan to give bankers iPads in pilot program

  • December 1, 2010
  • iPad

JPMorgan Chase is preparing to roll out a pilot program which will see iPads given to investment bankers, according to a new report. Citing an internal email, Bloomberg reports that the company will distribute iPads free of charge to all associates in its global investment banking division; the bankers will be able to use the devices for corporate email, contact and calendar functionality, view attachments, mark-up and annotate confidential documents, and make client presentations, as well as download apps for personal use. “We believe there are real benefits in our working environment that can be realized using this device - as well as the personal productivity and enjoyment that come as part of the package,” two managing directors at JPMorgan said in the email. “There are a variety of ways to leverage the iPad. Some work off-the-shelf whilst others rely on JPMorgan software/security tools. Depending on its success we will evaluate if we should repeat this one time initiative and/or expand it to others.” According to the report, employees will get to keep the iPads for as long as they remain with the global investment banking division, or until the pilot program ends on May 1, 2011.

Apple posts new 4.2.1-focused iPad TV spot

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Apple has posted its latest iPad television ad, focusing on the new features of iOS 4.2.1. Like its prior “iPad is…” commercials, the new spot—entitled “iPad is Amazing”—shows the iPad being used mostly in front of a white background, utilizing a variety of different apps and features. The spot starts with the words “iPad is” on the screen, and is followed by a different app or feature demonstration, along with a descriptor—including “creating,” “printing,” “vital,” “ideas,” “multi-tasking,” “facts,” “figures,” and “amazing,” the last showing a movie being streamed to an Apple TV using AirPlay. As with the prior “iPad is” ads, it features the song “Never Stop” by Gonzales in the background. Apple’s new “iPad is Amazing” ad is available for viewing on the company’s website.

Survey: iPad, Kindle dominating e-Reader market

  • November 30, 2010
  • iPad

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According to the results of the latest ChangeWave survey, the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle are dominating the e-Reader market, despite differences in the devices’ usage patterns. When asked what eBook reader they currently owned, 47 percent said the Kindle—down 15 percent since the prior survey—while 32 percent said they owned an iPad, double the 16 percent of the market it held in August. Other entrants in the market included the Sony Reader at five percent and the Barnes and Noble Nook at four. In terms of customer satisfaction, 75 percent of iPad owners said they were “very satisfied” with their device, compared to just 54 percent of Kindle owners; overall satisfaction numbers, which include both “very” and “somewhat” satisfied responses, were even at 96 percent.

Another question the survey posed was what type of content users read on their respective devices. While Kindle owners were more likely to read books on their device than iPad users—at a count of 93 percent to 76 percent, respectively, iPad owners were nearly five times more like to read newspapers and magazines than Kindle owners, and 15 times more likely to read blogs and news feeds using their devices. Finally, while just five percent of respondents said they were very likely to buy an e-Reader over the next 90 days—10 percent said they were somewhat likely—42 percent of those respondents said they were most likely to purchase an iPad, compared to 33 percent who said they were most likely to buy a Kindle. The survey was completed November 8 and included responses from more than 2,800 consumers.

Steve Jobs confirms AirPlay for Safari, 3rd-party apps?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly responded to a customer email, saying the company hopes to expand the scope of its AirPlay streaming feature in 2011. Mac Rumors reports that a reader emailed Jobs, asking whether Apple planned to make AirPlay video streaming available in Safari and to third-party app developers. In typically terse fashion, Jobs supposedly responded, “Yep, hope to add these features to AirPlay in 2011.” The inability to stream video from Safari or third-party apps, as well as the inability to stream videos shot on an iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS directly to an Apple TV, have been discussed as major shortcomings of AirPlay.

iPad launches in 11 countries, subsidy offered in Japan

  • November 30, 2010
  • iPad

Apple today officially launched the iPad in 11 more countries, while SoftBank announced a steep subsidy on iPad 3G models in concert with multi-month contracts. Included in today’s launches are the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the previously announced South Korea, Sweden, and Taiwan. As Mac Rumors notes, pricing, retail distribution, and cellular data providers vary from country to country; interested customers should check with Apple to find out more information regarding availability. In addition, SoftBank is now offering a new pricing plan (Translated Link) which makes the 16GB 3G model free with a 24 month contract; customers must agree to pay 4,725 yen, or roughly $56, monthly for 3G service, with the 32GB and 64GB 3G models adding 400 and 790 yen to the monthly cost, respectively. [via Engadget]

Virgin Digital releases Project iPad magazine, early thoughts

Virgin Digital has released Project, a new multimedia magazine designed specifically for the iPad. Project promises coverage of a wide range of topics including international culture, entertainment, design, business and travel though a free reader app that sells individual monthly issues for $3. Each issue includes content updated daily throughout that month, as well as videos, photo galleries and music. Previously purchased issues can be kept in the app or re-downloaded later at no additional charge. Project requires an iPad running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Initial Thoughts on Project from iLounge’s Editors: Despite the hype that’s been circulating recently over the very existence of Project as a rival to News Corp.‘s upcoming iPad-exclusive publication Daily, it’s safe to say that you can easily save $3 by skipping this new magazine. Excited by the prospect of a publication guided by Virgin’s Richard Branson, we instead found Project to be a third-rate clone of the many Adobe-aided iPad magazines we’ve seen before, filling pages with weak, laddie mag-class writing and quite possibly the most useless Jeff Bridges interview we’ve ever read. Apart from its back end, which seeks to fuse what amount to blog-like web updates and comments into the application, there’s precious little novelty here.

Survey: 11% of consumers likely to buy iPad

  • November 29, 2010
  • iPad

According to a new study of consumers conducted by The NPD Group, 11 percent of consumers are likely to purchase an iPad by February 2011. Citing a NPD “fact sheet,” AppleInsider reports that the survey also found that iPad usage increases with length of ownership; consumers who owned an iPad for two months or less use it for around 15 hours per week, a stat that increases to 18 hours/week in those who have had their iPads for more than three months. According to the report, NPD also found that 58 percent of iPad owners purchased the Wi-Fi only model, suggesting the sales ratio of Wi-Fi to 3G models is around 6 to 4.

Apple hiring away RIM enterprise sales staffers

Apple has added five former employees of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) to its enterprise sales team according to a new report. Citing multiple LinkedIn accounts, Dow jones Newswires reports that five members of RIM’s enterprise sales team have left the company to join Apple, including Geoff Perfect, a five-year RIM employee who served as Head of Strategic Sales and left the company for Apple in April 2009; Perfect now serves as Head of Enterprise iPhone Sales. Four other former RIM employees now hold positions as iPhone and/or iPad sales representatives in New England, New York City, and Canada. Apple confirmed that all five are now working in enterprise sales at the company, but declined to offer any specifics as to their positions.

Sling Media releases SlingPlayer for iPad

Sling Media has released an iPad version of its Slingbox client for iOS devices. SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad allows users to stream TV and other video content to their iPad from select Slingbox devices using a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. Users can view and control video content via the SlingPlayer app and Slingbox from sources such as cable, satellite and IPTV set-top boxes and DVRs, TiVO, Apple TV and even home security cameras. Slingbox Pro-HD users can also stream digital over-the-air broadcasts. SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad follows the release of SlingPlayer for iPhone ($30) earlier this year with a redesigned iPad-native interface including a revamped programming guide and a recent channels feature. Slingbox for iPad is sold separately from the iPhone version and is available from the App Store for $30. The SlingPlayer applications for iOS require a Slingbox Solo or Pro-HD and are not compatible with older Slingbox devices.

CoreMIDI apps begin appearing for iOS 4.2

Following Monday’s release of iOS 4.2 Apple has now begun to approve third-party applications that provide support for its new CoreMIDI functionality. CoreMIDI allows applications to send and receive Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) commands directly from an iOS device without requiring specialized third-party hardware. Developers can instead use a standard set of API calls to communicate with external MIDI devices through the Dock Connector using Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit to interface with MIDI devices over USB or interface with wireless MIDI transceivers over Wi-Fi. The new CoreMIDI technology provides a simpler way for developers to leverage the iPad and other iOS devices in a wide variety of professional studio applications ranging from digital music composition to complex lighting control. Luminair for iPad ($130) by Synthe FX is among the first such professional-grade MIDI applications to be released with the new CoreMIDI functionality, transforming the iPad into an advanced yet intuitive multitouch console for lighting designers.

News Corp. to announce iPad newspaper at Apple event?

A pair of new reports suggest that News Corp, headed by Rupert Murdoch, will announce a new tablet-based newspaper at an upcoming Apple event. The Guardian reports that the new paper, called the Daily, is a collaboration between Apple and News Corp and has been under development in New York for several months. The report goes on to state that the paper will cost 99 cents per week, and will be able to be delivered automatically to an iPad using a new subscription plan from Apple.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball, in linking to the aforementioned report, suggests that the initiative will launch with a press event, with Murdoch—and possibly other newspaper and magazine executives—joining Steve Jobs on stage. In addition, Gruber states that he’d heard December 9th as possible date for the event, but notes that this is a Thursday, an unusual day for Apple to hold a press event. Gruber goes on to state that based on information from sources outside Apple, the event will not be for a central “iNews” or “Newsstand” app from Apple, but will instead be for a new recurring subscription billing option for apps, paid through the user’s iTunes account. He also states that the News Corp developers working on the new Daily app have been given “preliminary documentation on the new subscription billing APIs from Apple.”

Apple updates iWork for iPad suite

Apple has updated its three iWork apps for the iPad: Pages, Numbers and Keynote to add support for iOS 4.2. The updates add wireless printing via AirPrint and support for iOS 4.2 multitasking and Numbers also adds a print preview feature to allow users to adjust how a sheet will print across multiple pages. The PDF export from Numbers will also respect any pagination settings created in the print preview. Numbers users can also now enter formulas using a keyboard and the predictive function selector. Keynote 1.3 adds an enhanced presenter display that now allows users to see the current slide, the next slide or their notes when connected to an external display. Keynote users can also now import and add presenter notes to slides from within the app. The update also improves reliability when importing and exporting iWork for Mac and Microsoft Office documents, fixes issues related to WebDAV and adds additional localizations for Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish and Traditional Chinese. Pages, Numbers and Keynote are sold individually from the App Store for $10 each.

Orange, T-Mobile to offer subsidized iPads in U.K.

  • November 22, 2010
  • iPad

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Orange and T-Mobile plan to offer the iPad 3G on a subsidized basis in the U.K., according to a new report. Engadget has reposted a press release from Orange, which says it will “offer new purchase options for iPad users, including more affordable prices when purchased with a data service plan, for iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G models in the coming months.” The report notes that T-Mobile is expected to make a similar announcement soon, and claims that a price tag of £200 (roughly $320) has been rumored, in conjunction with a two-year data plan. It’s unclear when the two companies will actually begin rolling out the new offerings.

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