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Apple awarded comprehensive Multi-Touch interface patent

Apple has been awarded a broad, comprehensive Multi-Touch interface patent that experts believe may give it the upper hand in disputes with rivals. Entitled “Portable multifunction device, method, and graphical user interface for translating displayed content,” the patent describes a device with “a touch-sensitive display (also known as a ‘touch screen’) with a graphical user interface (GUI), one or more processors, memory and one or more modules, programs or sets of instructions stored in the memory for performing multiple functions. In some embodiments, the user interacts with the GUI primarily through finger contacts and gestures on the touch-sensitive display. In some embodiments, the functions may include telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing, instant messaging, blogging, digital photographing, digital videoing, web browsing, digital music playing, and/or digital video playing.”

The patent is broad enough in its wording as to cover not only phones, but also tablets such as the iPad and media players like the iPod touch. In speaking with PC Magazine, Florian Mueller, author of FOSS Patents, indicated that the implications of the patent could be far-reaching. “This patent covers a kind of functionality without which it will be hard to build a competitive smartphone,” said Mueller. “Unless this patent becomes invalidated, it would allow Apple to stifle innovation and bully competitors.” The patent application was originally filed on December 19, 2007 and is credited to Francisco Ryan Tolmasky, Richard Williamson, Chris Blumenberg, and Patrick Lee Coffman.

Judge denies Samsung request for iPad 3, iPhone 5

Federal judge Lucy Koh has denied Samsung’s request for early access to product samples of the next-generation iPad and iPhone in its patent infringement case with Apple. According to FOSS Patents, Koh explained in her decision that while Samsung was entitled to “parity” in relation to Apple’s request for samples of certain unreleased devices, samples of those devices have been in circulation, while Apple has not yet announced any details of its next-generation iPhone or iPad. Despite the favorable ruling, the decision also contained a passage that the report suggests is a hint to Apple that it may not be able to get a preliminary injunction against the sale of the targeted Samsung products in the U.S. at this time.

“Samsung is free to argue, for instance, that there is little likelihood of confusion because consumers will not encounter its products side-by-side with the iPhone 4 or iPad 2, but rather with Apple’s next generation iPhone and iPad,” Koh said. “Similarly, as to proximity, Samsung is free to argue that because the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 will soon be outmoded and reduced in price, they are not being sold (or very soon will not be sold) to the same class of purchasers who are likely to buy new Samsung products. By choosing to allege infringement only of its current products, Apple opens itself up to these arguments.” The report goes on to suggest that Apple may wait until after it publicly announces the next-generation iPhone to proceed with an injunction request, at which time it could display the handset to the court and avoid any such issues.

Bloomberg: Next-gen iPhone to sport A5, 8MP camera

The next-generation iPhone will feature an A5 processor, currently found in the iPad 2, as well as an eight-megapixel camera, according to a Bloomberg report. Citing two people familiar with the plans, the report claims that Apple is also testing a new version of the iPad with a higher-resolution, more responsive screen, although it claims the resolution would be roughly one-third higher than that of the current iPad 2 screen, a curious claim as it would break with Apple’s practice of quadrupling resolution in an effort to ease development and app scaling. Evidence of a quad-resolution screen—which would most likely feature a resolution of 2048x1536—has been found in iOS 5.

In a direct contradiction of yesterday’s report that the next-generation iPhone would sport a “radical” new case design, the report also claims that the new phone will closely resemble the iPhone 4, and had its release pushed back to September to coincide with the release of iOS 5. Finally, the report claims that Apple is also working to finish a cheaper version of the iPhone aimed at developing countries that would use chips and displays “of similar quality to” those found in the iPhone 4.

Apple airs new iPad 2 commercial “Now”

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Apple has started to air its latest TV commercial for the iPad 2. Entitled “Now,” the 30-second spot is similar in tone to the company’s first to iPad 2 commercials, and features a narrator—Peter Coyote—saying, “Now we can watch a newspaper, listen to a magazine, curl up with a movie, and see a phone call. Now we can take a classroom anywhere, hold an entire bookstore, and touch the stars… because, now, there’s this.” The commercial is available for viewing on Apple’s website.

Facebook to launch iPad app within ‘weeks’?

Facebook is planning to launch a native iPad app in the “coming weeks,” according to a new report. Citing people briefed on Facebook’s plans, the New York Times reports that the new application will be free, and has been specifically designed and optimized to take full advantage of the iPad. According to the report, the app has been in development for almost a year, and is now in the final stages of testing after going through several design iterations. While the Chat and Groups features have undergone overhauls for the launch, the photo sharing features—including the ability to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the iPad 2’s cameras—will likely grab the most attention. “The photo and video experience is amazing, offering full resolution and full-screen images,” said a person who has seen the app. Facebook currently offers no iPad-optimized experience via an app or the web, instead directing users to the service’s standard desktop website.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked about plans for such an app last November, and responded by stating that the “iPad is not mobile,” before Facebook’s mobile platform chief Eric Tseng clarified by indicating that Facebook considers the iPad to be part of a whole new class of devices, and not a mobile platform in the same way that a phone is.

Three jailed in China over iPad 2 design theft

Three people in China have been convicted of violating commercial secrets relating to the theft of the iPad 2’s design, according to an AFP report. Citing the Guangzhou Daily, the report states that the theft took place late last year at a plant run by Foxconn, and allowed for the manufacture and sale of counterfeit iPad 2 units prior to the product’s official introduction. Xiao Chengsong, a legal agent of Maita Electronics, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined 150,000 yuan (roughly $23,000) for buying the design from two Foxconn workers for 200,000 yuan. The Foxconn workers, Lin Kecheng and Hou Pengna, were sentenced to 14 months and two years—suspended for one year—and fined 100,000 yuan and 30,000 yuan, respectively.

New 2048x1536 iPad graphics found in iOS 5

Another round of 2048x1536 iPad graphics has been found in the initial beta version of iOS 5. TechUnwrapped reports that images found in the new Twitter framework are labeled “2x”—the same designation given to similarly-oversized graphics found in iBooks in January—and are 2048x1536 in size, suggesting that a future iPad model will sport a display with quadruple the pixels of the first two generations. An additional “2x” image has been found in Newsstand, although this particular image is 1536x800, while its normal-sized counterpart is 768x400. A move from 1024x768 to 2048x1536 would allow Apple to make a similar transition to the one it made when it moved from 480x320 displays on the iPhone and iPod touch to the Retina Display, which offers exactly quadruple the pixels at 960x640. While many—including iLounge—were skeptical of such a display appearing in the iPad 2, Samsung has since shown a 2560x1600, 10.1-inch display prototype, suggesting that a 2048x1536 display is at least technically possible for the iPad 3, if not necessarily available in sufficient quantities to meet likely demand. [via 9 to 5 Mac]

Next-gen iOS GPU licensing begins

Imagination Technologies has announced that six companies are now licensing its next-generation mobile graphics processing unit architecture. Codenamed “Rogue”, the PowerVR Series6 architecture is said by the company to deliver “unrivalled GFLOPS per mm2 and per mW for all APIs,” and “not only a clear technology advantage and exceptional roadmap, driven by one of the largest teams of graphics engineers in the world, but also an extensive ecosystem of third party developers which has created hundreds of thousands of apps optimised for POWERVR enabled devices to date.” Imagination said ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments, and MediaTek are all Series6 partners, while the other three licensees—a group that likely includes Apple—have yet to be announced. Apple currently employs Imagination’s GPU designs in its iOS devices, most recently in the iPad 2, which uses the PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU, and also owns a 9.5 percent stake in the company. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple calls Samsung iPad 3, iPhone 5 request ‘attempt to harass’

Apple has responded to a Samsung request to provide its lawyers with samples of its next-generation iPhone and iPad an “improper attempt to harass” Apple. FOSS Patents reports that Apple, in its response, argues that delivering such samples would result in the exposure of “extremely sensitive trade secrets,” that Apple is not claiming infringement of future products, but of current offerings, and that the request goes far beyond Apple’s own, which requested “expedited discovery” of Samsung products that, at the time of the request, had already been unveiled publicly. The report also notes that Samsung’s law firm, Quinn Emanuel, also represents a variety of Android device makers against Apple and others, and might therefore be able to make use of any confidential information on future Apple products to developer infringement cases that its clients could bring against Apple in a later stage.

Apple first sued Samsung this past April, claiming that products such as the Galaxy S 4G, Epic 4G, Nexus S, and Galaxy Tab copy the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad; Samsung quickly countersued in South Korea, Japan, and Germany, before filing a separate countersuit in the U.S.

PDF Expert adds paperless signature support

Readdle has released an updated version of its iPad application for viewing, editing and annotating PDF files adding support for signing documents directly on the device. PDF Expert 2.5 adds support for entering both saved and one-time signatures on electronic forms allowing users such as legal professionals and sales people to sign agreements and contracts with partners and clients right on the iPad while working in the field.

The “My Signature” feature allows users to create a regular, standardized signature that is saved in the app for re-use while the “Customer Signature” feature is designed to allow other users such as customers and clients to electronically sign documents on the iPad without the signature being saved outside of the form for compliance with various industry regulations. The new version also adds support for electronic PDF forms with integrated signature fields, allowing documents to be easily signed directly in the proper place. Signed documents can then easily be sent out via e-mail or uploading a corporate web server for further processing. The new version also adds support for selecting text by dragging, refactors PDF stamps and improves calculations in forms in addition to various other performance and stability improvements. PDF Expert 2.5 is available from the App Store for $10.

Apple confirms Verizon iPad 2 recall

Apple has confirmed that it has been forced to recall a number of CDMA iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G units. “Duplicate MEID codes were flashed onto an extremely small number of iPad units for the Verizon 3G network,” an Apple spokeswoman told Reuters. MEID, or mobile equipment identifier, is a unique number used to identify a device when it connects to the network, and must be unique for each device. Apple declined to say how many units were affected; the company is replacing affected units that were already sold with new ones.

Nuance Dictation in iOS 5, unlocked iPhones coming to U.S. Apple Stores?

Twitter user Chronic, a past source of Apple leaks, posted a couple of interesting notes this weekend pertaining to iOS 5 and the iPhone. In one post, he links to a pair of screenshots purportedly from an iOS 5 device showing Internal Settings menus that contain options related to Nuance speech recognition technologies. One shot references a Mic on the space key, and the other Nuance Dictation, suggesting that iOS 5 users will have the option to tap a button on the virtual keyboard to start/stop dictation as an alternative to manually typing out a message. In the second, he claims that unlocked iPhones are headed to U.S. Apple Stores for a Wednesday rollout, with the following part numbers: MC603 (16GB, Black) MC604 (16GB, White) MC605 (32GB, Black) MC606 (32GB, White). If true, it would mark the first time Apple Stores in the U.S. offered unlocked iPhones; there is a possibility that the rollout could take place on Tuesday instead.

Additional social contact features found in iOS 5

Additional social contact integration features have been discovered in the beta version of iOS 5. AllThingsD reports that when adding a new contact in iOS 5 beta, alongside the option to add a contact’s Twitter username are fields for adding Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Myspace usernames. Clicking on the account name opens up a Safari window with that person’s page on the related service; it is unclear whether Apple has further, Twitter-like integration planned for these other services in the final release, or whether the features will be removed prior to the public launch.

Apple replaces stolen iPad for thief, leaves victim hanging

In a new twist on an old problem with stolen Apple devices, a thief successfully convinced the Apple Store to swap a stolen iPad 2 for a new device with a different serial number, after which Apple refused to help the victim of the crime. iLounge reader Dan Chang says that he purchased a black 64GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G from the Apple Store Tysons Corner in May, and the device was stolen less than a week later. Chang filed a police report and was told that the iPad’s serial number would show up as a stolen item if sold to a pawn shop. On June 6, Chang used Apple’s Service and Repair tool to check the serial number of the stolen iPad, and received the following message: “We’re sorry, but this is a serial number for a product that has been replaced… If your information is correct, you may need to contact us.”

Chang followed the instructions and contacted Apple Customer Service, providing the company with his serial number. Apple confirmed that the iPad 2 had been replaced at another local Apple Store based on a battery-related complaint, and told Chang to visit the Store in person to discuss the matter. During his visit, the manager told Chang that she was not responsible for his stolen iPad, and told him to call Apple Customer Service, which he had already done.

Again following instructions, Chang was told that the iPad had been “recycled” and was no longer traceable; further, the representative said that Apple was not responsible for the stolen item, and that he should contact the police to try and catch the thief. In the end, Chang ended up without his $870 iPad 2, which he says he will not be replacing with another iPad or any other Apple product. He says he wishes that the thief had taken the stolen iPad to a pawn shop, where at least it could have been reclaimed thanks to the serial number tracking system, instead of to an Apple Store, where it was accepted with no questions asked and with no recourse available to the victim. The absence of a simple online Apple tool enabling users to report the loss or theft of their devices is at least partially to blame for this problem.

Apple recalling Verizon 3G iPad 2 units?

Apple has recalled a select batch of Verizon 3G iPad 2 units, according to a new report. Citing a number of customer complaints on Apple’s Support Communities board, 9 to 5 Mac reports that a batch of Verizon iPad 2 units—most, if not all of them engraved—were shipped out to customers directly from China, in some cases reaching the customers’ local facilities before being redirected to Apple’s Elk Grove offices per Apple’s request. The report also cites an anonymous Apple Store employee, who claims that Apple has given all the stores a list of serial numbers to scan, and if a given unit is a match, it is to be set aside and shipped back to Apple. The employee claimed that the serial numbers cover only Verizon units, and that he or she personally had over one hundred to send back. Apple is offering two accessories of the customers’ choice to those who had their online order shipped—and thus charged to their cards—only to see it recalled. It is currently unclear what the problem with the recalled units might be.

Update: 9 to 5 Mac has indicated that the problem may be related to an inability of the recalled units to let users view or edit account information once they are activated with Verizon.

Namco releases Galaga 30th Anniversary Collection

In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the classic arcade shooter Galage, Namco Bandai Games America has released Galaga 30th Collection for iOS. A universal app, the Galaga Collection includes access to the redesigned and modernized remakes of the four classic Galaga series titles: Galaxian, Galaga, Gaplus and Galaga 88 all in one app. The free app includes the Galaxian G 30th Edition and 30th anniversary opening movie with the other three game titles available via in-app purchase. The games feature updated graphics for the iOS platform, optimized touch-panel controls and leaderboards and achievements through Apple’s Game Center that can also be shared via Twitter and Facebook from directly within the app. Players can earn Galaga points that can then be used to upgrade and customize their fighter and aim for high scores with a new score attack mode. Galaga 30th Collection Requires iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. Additional game titles are available via in-app purchase for $3 each or $8 for all three.

iOS 5 Mix: Panorama, 1080p video, Custom alerts, more

Code within the new iOS 5 beta suggests that Apple is planning to enable a built-in panorama function into the Camera app. 9 to 5 Mac reports that various panorama-related code snippets, including PANO_OPTION = “Take Panorama”, SAVING_PANORAMA = “Saving Panorama”, and CANCEL_PANO_BUTTON_TITLE = “Cancel”, have been found in the beta code. Apple has in the past included code in iOS beta releases that didn’t appear in the initial release; it is also possible that the code pertains to a feature that will be specific to some yet-unannounced device. In addition, the publication has found that iOS 5 has the ability to setup an Airport base station from within the Wi-Fi Networks menu, and also supports playback of 1080p video files on the iPad 2.

iLounge has discovered that in iOS 5, users can customize the alert sounds for New Mail, Sent Mail, and Calendar alerts, and that the prior “Syncing” progress screen has been replaced by a status bar indicator. Images of both can be found below.

Fanhattan unifies online movie, TV show searches

A new iPad app has been released to provide users with a single point for searching out entertainment content across multiple online services. Designed to make it easier for users to find their favourite movies and TV shows online, Fanhattan allows users to search for content across Netflix, iTunes, Hulu Plus and ABC all from within a single app. Users can search for and browse related content including reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, ratings, trailers, actor and crew bios and more and then easily begin watching content in the appropriate app with a single click. Fanhattan is available in the App Store as a free download.

New in iOS 5: Twitter integration + Reminders

Apple today demonstrated the new Twitter integration features and Reminders app of iOS 5 as part of its WWDC keynote address. The software’s Twitter integration will allow users to sign in once and then tweet directly from all Twitter-enabled apps, which include Photos, Camera, Safari, YouTube, and Maps; new APIs will allow third-party developers to take advantage of the feature, as well. Reminders is a new app that helps users manage tasks, offering features that include creating and grouping related tasks together and setting time or location-based reminder alerts, letting the device remind the user when a certain deadline approaches or when the arrive at or depart a location. iOS 5 will be available this fall.

iTunes in the Cloud services now live on iOS 4 devices

If you’ve purchased music or music videos from the iTunes Store in the past, now would be a good time to check out the iOS 4 version of the iTunes Store application. A new “Purchased” tab has just been added dynamically to the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad versions of iTunes, enabling you to see and retrieve the entire collection of music that you’ve previously purchased from the iTunes Store—including music videos. This is the live implementation of the iTunes in the Cloud.

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Several options are available from the Purchased tab. A list of “All” songs shows you everything you’ve purchased, with 50 Recent Purchases as a secondary list, above a scrollable alphabetical collection of individual artists with a number of downloaded files off to the side. You can Download All [Artist’s Name] Songs by clicking a cloud download icon, or do the same with the Recent Purchases list—but not the “All Songs” collection. You’re also able to use a tab to sort the list by Not On This iPad/iPhone/iPod files, seeing only the ones you don’t currently have on the device.

 

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Songs are downloaded individually to the device, and cannot be streamed; this is solely a locker to retrieve tracks as needed for your device. For users who thought they’d lost their only backups of iTunes-purchased music, this is a great new feature, and provides high-quality 256kbps AAC versions of tracks, assuming that you purchased the “iTunes Plus” versions from Apple. We’ve discovered that tracks that were purchased at 128kbps and not upgraded to iTunes Plus will still redownload via iTunes in the Cloud at 128kbps.

Note: The feature appears to be working only for U.S. iTunes Store accounts for the time being, notes our Canada-based editor Jesse Hollington.

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