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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.

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.

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