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 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.
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]
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two of the new changes in iOS 5 were not given special attention during the WWDC 2011 Keynote today. First, Apple has officially added new multitasking gestures to the iPad that were previewed—originally for comments from developers—starting in a prior beta version of iOS 4. The gestures include four- or five-finger swipes to reveal the multitasking bar, pinch to return to the Home screen, and left- or right-swipes to switch between apps. While some developers complained that the gestures created issues in their apps, Apple’s decision to preview them in iOS 4 and then include them in iOS 5 gave developers a chance to figure out ways to accommodate them; the beta version of iOS 5 will continue this testing opportunity through fall.
Additionally, Apple has disclosed a collection of Accessibility updates. In addition to adding support for specialized hardware accessories created for users with mobility, hearing, vision, and cognitive disabilities, iOS 5 includes LED flash and custom vibration settings to signal when people are calling. It also includes VoiceOver improvements such as custom element labeling to provide personalized spoken cues for menu options.
A third interesting feature was briefly previewed: a new iPad “split keyboard” that lets users rely on their thumbs or fingers on opposite sides of the screen for typing. Swiping down with four fingers will bring up the keyboard, which includes roughly half of its smaller-sized keys on each side of the screen, and can be repositioned upwards or downwards as you prefer. The new keyboard enables you to see more of the center of the screen without having keys in the way.
We’ve just posted the full chronological transcript of our play-by-play from the WWDC 2011 Keynote. If you haven’t seen the separate news stories yet, today’s big announcements pertained to the fall 2011 releases of iOS 5 and Apple’s new free wireless synchronization service iCloud, as well as the July 2011 release of Mac OS Lion. Click on the title of this article for the full transcript, and visit our Flickr photostream for live photos from the event.
Along with a host of other changes and improvements, Apple today showed off updated versions of iOS’ Camera and Safari apps. The Camera app has been given new prominence via a button on the lock screen that allows for instant access to the Camera app without the need to unlock the phone. Users can also now use the volume up button as a physical shutter button, and the app has also gained AE/AF lock, pinch to zoom, and basic editing tools including crop, rotate, red-eye reduction, and automatic enhancement. Safari has received the Reader feature from the Mac version, as well as a “Reading List” that syncs between devices, and tabbed browsing on the iPad.
As part of iOS 5, Apple today demonstrated a new notifications system for iOS, as well as a new messaging service called iMessage. The new Notification Center moves all notifications into a new slide-down drawer at the top of the screen. All app notifications appear in this area, and users can tap on a notification to go the related app, or tap a small “x” to dismiss them; weather and stock information can also be configured to show up at the top of the drawer. The new iMessage system works very similarly to the iPhone’s existing Messages application, but also offers delivery and read receipts, typing indication, automatic push of new messages to all a users’ devices, and works over 3G or Wi-Fi.