Skype has released an update for its iOS applications adding support for Bluetooth audio on recent devices. Skype for the iPhone and iPod touch now supports Bluetooth headset devices on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, fourth-generation iPod touch and the iPad 2; the iPad version of Skype has also been updated to add Bluetooth support for the iPad 2. Additional improvements in the iPhone and iPod touch version of Skype include a redesigned user interface with support for emoticons and enhanced video with image stabilization. Both of the Skype applications include bug fixes related a security vulnerability nd are now ad-supported—advertising will be shown to users who do not have a Skype subscription or Skype Credit in their account. Skype for the iPhone and iPod touch and Skype for iPad are available separately as free downloads from the App Store.
Business Insider reports that Facebook engineer Jeff Verkoeyen, the developer responsible for building the company’s iPad application has left Facebook to take a job at Google. In a post on his blog earlier today, Verkoeyen expressed frustration that Facebook has delayed the release of the iPad app despite the fact that it has been ready to be released for several months. Verkoeyen noted that he was the lead engineer on the Facebook iPad app back in January and put a great deal of time into the app, which was considered “feature-complete’ in May. Despite this, Facebook reportedly kept repeatedly delaying the release, leading Verkoeyen to believe that at this point the app “may never be released.” Verkoeyen has since updated his blog post to remove details about the iPad application and spoke with Business Insider to clarify that the frustration was his “personally” and was not a “reflection on Facebook as a company.”
In June the New York Times reported that Facebook was planning to launch a native iPad app in the “coming weeks” citing people briefed on Facebook’s plans, and native iPad support was later discovered in a July update to the iPhone and iPod touch application. These reports led many to speculate that Facebook was simply waiting to release an iPad app during the company’s f8 developer conference last week, however no mention was made of the iOS platform at all during the keynote presentation, which focused primarily on major new social features for the web.
Taiwan-based Via Technologies has filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the iPad maker infringes on three of its patents covering microprocessors. Bloomberg reports that the suit, filed yesterday in U.S. federal court in Deleware, is based on three Via patents covering the use of microprocessors in mobile phones and tablet computers. “The products at issue generally concern microprocessors included in a variety of electronic products such as certain smartphones, tablet computers, portable media players and other computing devices,” Via said in the complaint. Apple was also named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by LVL Patent Group against 27 companies, claiming they infringe upon four patents related to the wireless recording of transactions. AppleInsider reports that LVL is seeking a permanent injunction preventing the defendants from selling the supposedly infringing products.
Canadian Television Network CTV has released a new iPad application that provides on-demand access to its network content alongside an interactive social environment. The app provides on-demand streaming of television shows, including popular prime-time content carried by the network such as Desperate Housewives, Flashpoint and Pan Am. Users can also bookmark episodes for future or repeat viewing, check local broadcast schedules, share web links to shows on Twitter and Facebook and view series photos, episode guides and news updates.
A unique CTV Social Screen feature also provides a ‘second-screen’ experience during select live broadcasts where users can interact with other CTV app users in a moderated, live chat using their existing Facebook or Twitter accounts. The curated chat environment also integrates tweets from cast members, Facebook comments and other insider commentary from across the social web to act as a companion during primetime shows. The CTV app for iPad requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Mobigame has released an update to its popular block-rolling puzzle game Edge adding a new 3D engine and Game Center integration. With the new engine the latest version of Edge now runs a full 60 FPS and users can sync progress between their devices using Apple’s Game Center. The update also includes graphics optimized for the Retina Display and iPad 2 multisample anti-aliasing along with optimizations for older first- and second-generation devices. Users can also now play against a ghost block and several bug fixes are included to improve playability. Edge 1.7 is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $3.
Despite the country’s seeming fervor for Apple products in recent months, the iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G launched in China with no lines whatsoever, according to a new report. Citing reports from Chinese-language Eastday and Netease, M.I.C. Gadget reports that Apple’s flagship stores in Shanghai and Beijing failed to bring in crowds for the release, despite preparations that included hiring black-shirted security guards and the set up of long queues outside the stores, which are shown sitting empty in photos accompanying the report. An anecdotal report from the Beijing Xicheng Apple Store included in the report indicates that the store actually delayed opening for ten minutes due to the fact that there were no customers inside, with the first customers to arrive looking to purchase iPhones, not iPads—the first 3G iPad 2 wasn’t sold until the store had been open for twenty minutes. The report suggests that this particular model isn’t selling well due to a combination of price, the fact that it had been available in other parts of the world for some time and was therefore sold on the grey market, and China Unicom’s data offerings for the device.
Alawar Entertainment has released Farm Frenzy 3, the third instalment in its popular farming sim series for the iOS platform. The latest game features a revamped art style, new gameplay and introduces a new storyline presented in comic-book style interludes. In Farm Frenzy 3 players take on the role of a new character, Scarlett, whose must earn the trust of the community by building a successful farming business and unseat the greedy president of the Farmers Union in the next election. The game provides 95 levels where players must manage local farms across exotic locations from the South Pole to Africa, feeding animals, protecting the farm, collecting produce and manufacturing goods. Game Center and OpenFeint integration also provide tracking of 16 different trophies and achievements and the developer plans to offer sequels via in-app purchase providing additional levels and new challenges. The full game is available in two versions: Farm Frenzy 3 ($3) for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and third- or fourth-generation iPod touch and Farm Frenzy 3 HD ($5) for the iPad. Free Lite versions are also available that provide a more limited set of levels and animals.
Canon has announced that it has added AirPrint support to three PIXMA printers. According to the announcement, the PIXMA MG8220, MG6220 and MG5320 Wireless Photo All-In-One inkjet photo printers will now support AirPrint wireless printing from the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. In addition, the company also announced that the majority of PIXMA inkjet printers launched from this point forward will include support for the feature. Introduced in iOS 4.2 last November, AirPrint allows for configuration- and driver-free printing to supported printers directly from iOS devices.
Springpad has released an update to its iOS application adding new features to allow users to more quickly get information into the system. Springpad is an online notebook service that allows users to easily collect and record ideas and information in a structured manner, providing automatic organization of content and links to relevant external sources. The latest update introduces a Quick Add shortcut that can be saved to the iOS home screen allowing users to directly access the app’s new item entry screen and a mobile-optimized web clipper that can be installed as a bookmarklet in Safari. The new version also addresses some issues with international keyboards, scanning of QR codes and note editing. Springpad is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Toktumi, developer of the popular Line2 VoIP communications app for the iPhone and iPod touch has released a native iPad version of its app. Line2 HD brings voice calling and text messaging to the iPad over either a Wi-Fi or 3G data connection. Users can place and receive calls using the built-in speakerphone or connect a wired headset of Bluetooth device. As with the iPhone version users sign up for a Line2 account and are assigned their own phone number that acts a full-featured phone line to place and receive calls and text messages in the app. Calls can also be forwarded from the Line2 service to up to six other phone numbers when the iPad is out of data coverage. The app also provides caller ID support, handling of multiple calls including conference calling with up to 20 participants, visual voicemail, call waiting and call transfer features. Call history and text messages are logged and grouped in a single contact-orientation communications stream making it easy for users to get a snapshot view of communications with a given contact. Line2 HD is available from the App Store as a free download. A Line2 account is required to use the app, with a free 7 day trial available, after which a subscription is required starting at $10/month for a basic plan with unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada.
Apple has signed a foundry partnership agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), according to a new report. Citing industry sources, Digitimes reports that under the new agreement, TSMC will use its 28nm and 20nm process technologies to produce Apple’s next-generation CPUs. Reports linking the two companies date back to as early as June, as tensions between Apple and A5 manufacturing partner Samsung became increasingly evident. The report goes on to state that Apple and TSMC have not yet discussed backend manufacturing, and suggests that Apple may have TSMC and other dedicated packaging and testing houses split the orders due to TSMC’s limited backend services capacity.
TweetDeck has released an update to its iPhone app removing support for its Deck.ly extended posting service. Redesigned and released earlier this year as an entirely new app, TweetDeck for the iPhone and iPod touch incorporated its own tweet shortening service known as Deck.ly that allows users to write tweets longer than 140 characters, posting as many characters as possible within the tweet followed by a link to an online page to display the full length of the tweet.
At the time that the new app was released, TweetDeck also promised that a similar iPad update would be coming. However, shortly after this the company was acquired by Twitter and despite claims that the company would continue to provide “the same focus and products” all references to the iPad app were removed from the company’s web site. There have been few TweetDeck updates since the acquisition, and this latest update appears to have been released primarily to remove Deck.ly support “as part of the process of making TweetDeck more consistent with Twitter.com & Twitter’s mobile apps.” TweetDeck for the iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store as a free download.
An ex-Samsung Electronics manager has testified that he disclosed confidential shipping data for iPad components to investors prior to the device’s release, Businessweek reports. Testifying in the insider-trading trial of Primary Global Research (PGR) exec James Fleishman, Suk-Joo Hwang, who worked for 14 years at Samsung’s U.S. division, told jurors that he had lunch with Fleishman and a hedge fund manager in Mountain View, CA, four months prior to the iPad’s launch, at which he shared the information. “One particular thing I remember vividly was that I talked about the shipment numbers of Apple, it was about iPad,” Hwang said. “This is in December 2009, before it came out with the tablet PC, they didn’t know the name then, so I talked to them about the tablet shipment estimates in that meeting.” Hwang was working for PGR as a consultant at the time.
Hwang went on to say that a man at a nearby table was staring at him, and he became concerned that the man might be an Apple employee; shortly after the lunch, he was told by a colleague that Samsung had lost a supply contract with Apple. “I thought, ‘Oh that guy was an Apple guy and they found out,’” Hwang said. “I was scared.” Hwang was granted immunity from prosecution by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in return for his testimony.
Apple’s iPad increased its share of the tablet market in the second calendar quarter of 2011, according to new research from IDC. According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker, demand for the iPad 2 gave Apple a share of 68.3 percent in Q2, up from 65.7 percent in the prior quarter, while Android’s share of the market slipped from 34 percent in Q1 to 26.8 percent in the second quarter. Overall tablet shipments were up 88.9 percent over the prior quarter an 303.8 percent year-over-year to 13.6 million units; IDC is predicting second-half 2011 tablet shipments of 62.5 million units.
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.