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Alcatel-Lucent company sues Apple, others over video patents

Multimedia Patent Trust (MPT), a subsidiary of telecom firm Alcatel-Lucent, has filed suit against Apple, Canon, LG, and TiVo, claiming patent infringement. Paid Content reports that MPT is claiming the companies violate four of its patents relating to digital video compression technologies, including MPEG-2 and two different varieties of MPEG-4. The company is seeking royalty payments on all “video-capable” Apple products, including iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Macs. As the report notes, the MPEG-LA was set up to collect royalties on all relevant digital video patents, but that doesn’t stop companies such as Alcatel-Lucent from suing for royalties years after negotiations are completed.

2nd-gen iPad to sport larger speaker, two cameras?

  • December 22, 2010
  • iPad

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A new report claims to shed light on a number of design changes to the second-generation iPad, which is expected to be announced by Apple in early 2011. In addition to slimming changes that will see the iPad shrink from its current 242.8mm height by 189.7mm width by 13.4mm depth down to approximately 239mm tall by 186mm wide by 10.4mm deep—roughly 3mm smaller in every dimension—the new iPad will feature an improved speaker, twin cameras, and no SD card slot, according to Macotakara. Explaining an unusually large lower rear hole seen in earlier leaks of new iPad cases, the redesigned model will feature larger speaker grilles to accommodate better-sounding audio, rather than the SD card that some speculated would be nestled behind grilles similar in size to the first-generation iPad’s; the image here is a rendering by Taiyo Fujii, not a photo. The display on this model will remain at 9.7” as on the original iPad’s, says the report.

The report also states that the new iPad’s rear shell will be flatter and similar to that of the fourth-generation iPod touch, that the ambient light sensor has been moved and reshaped, and that the two cameras—one in front, one in back—will be similar in quality to those found on the iPhone 4, including video recording capabilities. A 3G model is said to have the same antenna locations as the original iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G. Finally, the report states that production has begun on the new iPads, with a current shipping date of mid to late January, though whether that date represents an actual availability timeframe or merely Apple taking possession of the devices from its contract manufacturers remains unclear.

Photogene for iPad adds new editing tools, browser view and more

Omer Shoor has released a major update to Photogene for iPad, his popular photo editing software for iOS devices. Photogene for iPad 2.0 adds a new photo browser that allows users to view photos as large thumbnails, easily switch between the browsing screen and the editing screen and add captions to photos directly from the browser. The new version also adds support for batch uploading of several photos at a time and the ability to export photos in resolutions up to 8 megapixels. Users can also now view EXIF metadata for photos, including geotag information, and print photos via AirPrint. Several new editor tools have also been added including de-noise filter, improved sharpening, a heal/clone tool and a selective blur tool. The update also fixes problems in the previous version with opening RAW files. Photogene for iPad is available from the App Store for $4.

MobileNavigator adds iPad support, Zagat Guide

Navigon has released an update to its turn-by-turn GPS navigation apps adding native iPad support, optional Zagat guide integration and a new Active Lane Assistant feature. MobileNavigator 1.7 is now a universal app supporting the iPhone and iPad 3G natively, the first major GPS navigation app to provide universal support in a single app. iPod touch and iPad Wi-Fi users can also use MobileNavigator with an external GPS accessory. Users can also now take advantage of additional travel and restaurant guides through Zagat via an in-app purchase, providing ratings, reviews and directions to restaurants, hotels and other attractions from the Zagat Guide, integrated directly into the POI database.

The update also introduces a new optional Active Lane Assistant feature that provides a live lane animation in the lower-right corner of the map view, displaying the current lane configuration and indicating which lane the driver should follow. Additional new features include e-mail sharing of favourites between multiple iOS devices and a new MyReport feature that allows users to report road changes such as names, new speed limits and one-way streets directly from within the app such as names. Navigon MobileNavigator is available from the App Store in several versions for different geographic areas: MobileNavigator North America is currently available for $45, with U.S. and Canada versions available separately for $35 each. Region-specific U.S. versions are $25 and MobileNavigator Europe is $75. Prices for other areas around the world range from $40 to $65. Zagat content is available via in-app purchase for $6; Active Lane Assistant and Zagat content are not available in all areas.

AT&T now selling iPad 3G units online

  • December 22, 2010
  • iPad

AT&T is now selling the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G online. The lone iPad 3G service provider in the U.S. is offering the same prices as Apple’s retail and online stores—$629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB, and $829 for 64GB units. Other links on the page lead to iPad accessory offerings, a page to order replacement Micro-SIM cards, and an AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spot finder. Despite being the only U.S. service provider for the device, AT&T didn’t begin in-store sales of the iPad until October, the same month that the iPad debuted at Walmart, Target, and rival carrier Verizon. Notably, AT&T does not specify whether iPad 3G units ordered today will arrive in time for the holidays.

Apple releases iAd Producer to developers

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Apple has released its new iAd Producer tool to members of the iOS developer program. According to Apple, iAd Producer “automatically manages the HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript behind your iAd to make creating beautiful, motion-rich iAd content as easy as point and click,” and offers project templates for both the iPhone and iPad. Other features include a visual designer, page templates, pre-built animations and effects, advanced JavaScript editing, and more. iAd Producer is available now as a free download from iOS developer program members. [via Mac Rumors]

Motorola attacks iPad in tablet teaser video

  • December 20, 2010
  • iPad

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Motorola has posted a new video online that teases a tablet introduction at CES 2011 while taking shots at the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. The video, entitled “Tablet Evolution” and reposted by Laptop Magazine, is a CG walk through a corridor of tablets, ranging from an Egyptian Hieroglyphic tablet to the Rosetta Stone, with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek description for each. When the video swings to the iPad, the description says “It’s like a giant iPhone, but… it’s like a giant iPhone,” before swinging to show the Samsung Galaxy tab, which it describes as “Android OS, but Android OS… for a phone.” The video ends with a shot of an upcoming tablet from Motorola shrouded atop a pedestal, and then a brief segment of a bee flying around the Motorola logo — a likely indication that the tablet will run “Honeycomb,” Google’s upcoming, tablet-optimized version of Android.

iPad now available in the Philippines

Apple is now offering the iPad in the Philippines. The company is selling all six models of iPad on its online store, with prices ranging from PHP 23,990 (roughly $541) for the 16GB Wi-Fi model to PHP 40,990 (~$924) for the 64GB 3G model. As TUAW notes, the iPad’s Filipino rollout was delayed quite a bit longer from the device’s U.S. launch than was the iPhone 4’s, which launched in the country just three months after its initial introduction.

Electronic Arts releases SimCity Deluxe for iPad

Electronic Arts has released the iPad version of SimCity Deluxe, the latest mobile edition in its city-building game franchise. SimCity Deluxe for iPad provides all of the same game play features as its iPhone and iPod touch counterpart with higher-resolution graphics and a user interface redesigned to take advantage of the larger iPad screen. In addition to optimized controls and overlay windows, the iPad version also provides dockable information pop-ups to provide players with quick access to important SimCity statistics. SimCity Deluxe for iPad provides the same scenarios, starter cities, buildings and landmarks as the iPhone version, all rendered for the higher-resolution iPad screen. SimCity Deluxe for iPad is currently available from the App Store for a special limited-time sale price of $1.

iPad, iPhone play part in insider trading sting

An executive at Flextronics, a parts supplier to Apple, passed on secret information about the iPad and iPhone 4 before their announcements, according to a new report. Citing a 39-page legal complaint lobbied against Walter Shimoon, a senior director of business development at Flextronics, and three other men, the Wall Street Journal reports that Shimoon shared information about Apple’s iPad, iPhone, and iPod with an unnamed government informant. “They [Apple] have a code name for something new…It’s, it’s totally…it’s a new category altogether. And, uh, I speculate, it doesn’t have a camera in it, what I figured out. So I speculated that it’s probably a reader…Something like that…I believe it’s called…K48,” Shimoon told the informant in October 2009, nearly four months before the iPad’s introduction. During the same call, Shimoon said that Apple was working on a new version of the iPhone that would include two cameras; the iPhone 4 was launched eight months later. Shimoon is also said to have provided information about Apple sales figures for the iPhone for the third quarter of 2009, and sales forecasts for the iPhone and iPod for the fourth quarter of 2009.

Star Walk Christmas Edition tracks Santa, adds AirPrint support

Vito Technology has released an updated Christmas Edition of its interactive astronomy guide apps for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. In keeping with the holiday season, the update adds the ability to track Santa Claus’ journey on Christmas Eve, including the ability to fast-forward to December 24th using the application’s Time Machine feature to find out where Santa will be in advance of the big day. The new version also adds AirPrint support for printing sky maps with stars and constellations, new star catalogues including more information on spectral class and distance from the Earth and expanded details on interesting satellites including launch dates and stories. Star Walk is available in two versions: Star Walk for the iPhone and iPod touch sells for $3 while Star Walk for iPad is sold separately for $5.

Nokia files 13 new patent complaints against Apple

Nokia has filed a total of 13 new patent complaints against Apple in Europe, representing the latest chapter in a legal battle that started over one year ago. According to a Reuters report, the new complaints were filed in Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, and accuse Apple of infringing on Nokia patents related to several technologies, including touch user interfaces, on-device app stores, signal noise compression, and modular structure. “The Nokia inventions protected by these patents include…a wiping gesture on a touch screen to navigate content, or enabling access to constantly changing services with an on-device app store, both filed more than ten years before the launch of the iPhone,” Paul Melin, vice president of Intellectual Property at Nokia, said in a statement. “These actions add 13 further Nokia patents to the 24 already asserted against Apple in the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Delaware and Wisconsin Federal courts.”

Nokia first filed suit against Apple in October 2009, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents; Apple filed a countersuit claiming patent infringement in December. The lawsuits were followed by a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint from Nokia near the end of the year, alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.”

The ITC launched an investigation into Nokia’s claims against Apple in late January; it announced a similar investigation into Apple’s claims against Nokia in February. In March, a federal judge in Delaware signed an order halting litigation between Nokia and Apple pending resolution of the companies’ respective claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC); Nokia then sued Apple again in May, alleging that the iPhone and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G infringe on five of its patents. The ITC case between the two companies is ongoing, but ITC staff issued a pre-trial memo stating that Nokia shouldn’t be found liable of infringing upon Apple’s patents. A recent report indicated that Apple has been bolstering its legal team ahead of key battles with Nokia, as well as HTC and Motorola.

Apple launches iAd on iPad with ‘Tron Legacy’ spot

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Apple has extended its iAd mobile advertising network to the iPad. Citing an Apple spokesperson, AdAge reports that a spot for Disney’s upcoming film Tron Legacy will be the first iAd to appear on the iPad, and will remain the sole iPad-formatted iAd through the end of the year. According to the report, the iAd includes nearly 10 minutes of video content, images from the movie, a theater locator with showtimes, a preview of the film’s Daft Punk-scored soundtrack with the ability to purchase the album from iTunes without leaving the ad, and the ability to send an email promoting the movie from within the ad. “Disney and Apple are excited to debut the ‘Tron Legacy’ iAd today as a special preview of iAd for iPad, which launches next year,” said the companies in a statement for Ad Age. “iAd brings ‘Tron’s’ pulsing energy and vivid graphic style to iPad’s stunning display, creating a truly immersive ad experience.” In addition, Apple also told AdAge that many of the early challenges that led to lengthy ad creation processes have been overcome.

Google Voice app adds iPod touch+iPad support

Google has released an update to its official Google Voice app adding compatibility with the iPod touch and iPad. Originally released with iPhone support only, the new version can now be used on other iOS devices to send and receive text messages, receive Push Notifications and listen to voicemail. Users can also now place calls using Google’s Click2Call feature to connect the call via a nearby phone. Although not a universal or native iPad app, Google Voice can also run in iPhone compatibility mode on the iPad. The update also adds several other improvements including access to the Do Not Disturb setting, disabling of text forwarding when Push Notifications are enabled and improvements in Address Book and SMS integration. Google Voice is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download. A free Google Voice account is required to use the service.

Apple removes iOS jailbreak detection API

Apple has quietly removed or disabled an API meant to allow security software to detect jailbroken devices from afar, only months after adding it to iOS. NetworkWorld reports that the API, introduced in iOS 4.0, was part of a bundle of mobile device management APIs, but is not functional under iOS 4.2. In simple terms, the API allowed security software to remotely query the OS to see if it had been compromised, but according to one security engineer, the API was simple one piece of a larger set of checks used to determine jailbreak status. “We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct,” said Joe Owen, vice president of engineering at Sybase, which offers Afaria device management software. “I’m not sure what motivated their removing that….I’ve not had anyone [at enterprise customer sites] talk to me about this API being present or being removed.”

Owen added that the API itself might not have been 100 percent reliable, as certain jailbreak routines could have compromised its functionality. “It’s an interesting concept - asking the OS to tell you if it has been compromised,” he added. “Because a smart attacker might first change that very part of the OS. Jailbreaks often get better and better at disguising the fact that anything has been compromised.” Enterprises used the API, and still employ other jailbreak detection techniques, to block jailbroken devices from accessing potentially sensitive corporate data. Apple has yet to acknowledge the change in API status or give any reason for its apparent removal.

Apple searching for Verizon iPad engineer

A new Apple job posting reveals that the company is looking for a Verizon iPad engineer. The job carries the official title of Verizon iPad System Engineer, but surprisingly doesn’t involve work on any cellular radio or network technology. Instead, the iPad System Engineer will “work with the carrier business teams, business customers, and Apple sales resources to drive the adoption of iPad in enterprise accounts,” and will be responsible for “developing carrier relationships within the carrier technical teams.” The listing calls for someone with enterprise sales experience, knowledge of VPN, Wi-Fi, and enterprise security technologies, and, if possible, hands-on experience with Microsoft Exchange Active Sync and Exchange Server. While it appears as though the position could be aimed at helping to drive enterprise sales of the Wi-Fi-only iPad at Verizon, it also serves as further evidence of the expanding collaborative relationship between Apple and Verizon. [via Engadget | Electronista]

iPad users complain of slow Wi-Fi under iOS 4.2

  • December 10, 2010
  • iPad

A number of iPad users are reporting sluggish Wi-Fi performance following the installation of iOS 4.2. According to a lengthy thread on Apple’s Support Discussions, the problem seems to affect both iPad Wi-Fi and iPad 3G models and multiple brands of routers, including Apple AirPort units; some users report having fixed the issue by rebooting their routers and/or resetting the network settings. It is unclear how widespread the problem is or when a fix might be available for those affected. If you’re having problems with Wi-Fi performance on your iPad running iOS 4.2, let us know in the comments. [via TUAW]

Report: iPad 2G to have dual cameras and high-res display

  • December 10, 2010
  • iPad

The second-generation iPad will have both front- and rear-facing cameras, among several other improvements, according to a new report. Citing four people familiar with the situation, Reuters reports that touchscreen chip designer Wintek, battery maker Simplo Technology, and cover maker AVY Precision are all ramping up for a new round of production in the first quarter of 2011, with two sources claiming the ramp-up is for the second-generation iPad. Curiously, the report comes only one day after several supposed second-generation iPad cases appeared online, all of which sported holes on the back for a rear-facing camera.

Along with the cameras, one source told Reuters that the new model will be thinner, lighter, and have a higher resolution display. Camera module manufacturers Genius Electronic Optical and Largan Precision were also said by two sources to be starting new supply contracts with Apple, although neither source could confirm for which Apple product the modules are intended. As noted yesterday, recent rumors have pegged the iPad 2G’s release as coming within the next 100 days.

Epic Games releases Infinity Blade

Epic Games has released its anticipated game Infinity Blade. Developed exclusively for the iOS platform, Infinity Blade is a 3D first-person RPG shooter powered by Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 technology. Players take on the role of a knight on a quest to free the realm from an evil immortal God King and save civilization by journeying to the Dark Citadel and battling the God King’s Titans. The game provides a dynamic single-player campaign with extensive character customization of weapons, armor and magic items and advanced character progression through levelling up and increasing attack, health, shield and magic skills over the course of the game. Players navigate using intuitive tap-to-move controls to search and explore the castle realm and engage in combat moves using simple swipe gestures. The initial release of Infinity Blade provides Game Center achievements and leaderboards with a single-player campaign only; multiplayer features are planned for a future update. Infinity Blade is a universal app and is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch and the iPad and requires iOS 3.2 or later. It is available from the App Store for $6.

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.

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