During Apple’s first-quarter 2011 financial results conference call today, Apple COO Tim Cook made several statements that suggest the company sees display technology as a potential component investment for the future. When asked about Apple’s long-term investments on components, Cook mentioned the company’s prior $1 billion flash memory investment as something that was important across the product line, and added that the company has identified a similarly important area in recent quarters. Cook said that the company has come into pre-payment agreements in this new area for parts, equipment, and tooling in hopes of achieving a specific competitive advantage. While Cook didn’t directly mention it, separate reports from the same week in December claimed that Apple was expected to supply a portion of the investments required for a new Toshiba LCD plant and Sharp LCD production line, respectively. Both reports specifically mentioned that as a result of Apple’s investment, the new factory and new production line were expected to produce displays primarily for the Cupertino-based company. Given Apple’s reliance on touchscreen technology in its iOS devices, it seems likely that these were the agreements to which Cook was referring during the call.
Update: The investment is worth $3.9 billion dollars over two years, and involves three vendors. Apple made pre-payments of $650 million during the last quarter, and expects to make $1.05 billion in payments during the March quarter.
TiVo has released a free iPad remote control app for users of its TiVo Premiere box. With the new TiVo app, iPad users can search and browse content directly from their device without interrupting whatever programming they are currently watching. The application allows users to view a 14-day program guide, schedule and manage both one-time and Season Pass recordings and see listings of new and recommended content using a gesture-based touchscreen interface. Users can also post comments about shows and movies to Twitter and Facebook from directly within the app. The application works with the TiVo service so that users can also search and browse shows when away from home and schedule recordings remotely. The TiVo application for the iPad requires a TiVo Premiere or Premiere XL box and is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
U.S. prosecutors are expected to announce criminal charges relating to the alleged theft of email addresses and SIM ICC-ID numbers for over 110,000 iPad 3G users last June. Reuters reports that the charges arise from the hacking of AT&T’s servers which led to the breach; a security company known as Goatse Security discovered a script on AT&T’s website, accessible by the public, through which it obtained the data. Although the company claimed that it notified AT&T of the breach, it also admitted to sharing the PHP script it used to harvest the data with several third-parties prior to AT&T’s response. Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, and the FBI plan to hold a press conference later today to discuss the charges; we will update this story once more information is available.
Update: Two men, Daniel Spitler and Andrew Auernheimer, were each charged with one count of fraud and one count of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization, according to Reuters.
A pair of new reports suggest the second-generation iPad will feature a 2048x1536 display, as well as a multi-core GPU and multi-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor. Mac Rumors reports that two iPad “x2” graphics have been discovered in the latest version of iBooks, including a bookmark icon found in August, and a new wood tile graphic, both of which are twice the resolution of their predecessors, suggesting an overall resolution of 2048x1536. The article notes that a higher-resolution display would require a more powerful graphics unit to drive it, partially explaining the appearance of a driver for the POWERVR SGX543 GPU in the first iOS 4.3 beta.
Citing a source familiar with Apple’s graphics strategy, AppleInsider reports that the company will be using a dual-core variant of the SGX543, known as the SGX543MP2, which will offer roughly four times the performance of the A4’s SGX535. The report also claims that the new GPU will be paired with a multi-core ARM Cortex-A9 for general computing processing, and notes that many of the iPad’s 2011 tablet rivals will be using a similar multi-core, A9-based processor when they hit the market later this year. Finally, the report suggests that the new graphics prowess could enable Apple to offer HDMI output on the iPad and iPhone, and could potentially lead to 1080p output for a next-generation Apple TV.
New code found within the first iOS 4.3 beta suggests Apple is planning to incorporate the POWERVR SGX543 GPU from Imagination Technologies into an upcoming product or products. Mac Rumors reports that the SGX543 is said to deliver seven million more polygons per second and double the fillrate of the older SGX535 that is found in Apple’s A4 chip. In addition, the new GPU offers support for the Apple-backed OpenCL specification, which allows applications to tap unused GPU processing power for general computing tasks, as well as support for multi-core configurations. Notably, a rumor from late 2009—the chip itself was announced that January—suggested that Sony was interested in using the chip as the graphics processor for its second-generation PSP handheld gaming console, suggesting that Apple and Sony are on a similar path when it comes to portable gaming.
PopCap Games, developer of highly-acclaimed games including Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled 2, has revealed in an e-mail that it “soon” plans to release an iPad-native version of its award-winning Peggle. Following its release on PC and Mac platforms, Peggle was released as a Click Wheel iPod Game where it truly took off, receiving our iPod Game of the Year Award before making its way to the iOS platform as an iPhone and iPod touch version, then adding the semi-sequel Peggle Nights as additional downloadable content. The iPad version would likely follow Plants vs. Zombies in being a standalone “HD” version, using touch-optimized content from the Mac game that was released years ago.
Amazon has released an update to its Kindle app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad adding the ability to open and import supported e-book formats. Kindle 2.5 now allows users to open e-book files from sites such as Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive directly from the Safari browser or Mail app using the “Open in” feature in iOS 4. Supported ebook formats can also be transferred to a user’s device via USB using the File Sharing feature in iTunes. The new version also adds the ability to continue downloading books while the app is in the background, improves the image zoom feature and provides a new book indicator and miscellaneous bug fixes. Kindle for iOS is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
News Corp. and Apple have delayed the debut of the former’s new iPad newspaper, The Daily, in order to polish the new subscription platform that will be used to deliver the paper. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the digital newspaper was supposed to be unveiled next Wednesday by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Apple CEO Steve Jobs at a special event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the launch has been delayed by weeks, and not months, according to the report. “The app and the service work, it’s just getting them to talk to each other that needs more time,” said a person familiar with the matter. News Corp. confirmed the delay but declined to comment beyond that. Once released, Apple’s new subscription platform will allow customers to sign up for a subscription to a periodical via the App Store and get the publication delivered automatically to their iPad each time a new issue is published, instead of needing to purchase each issue individually either as a separate app or through in-app purchases.
Four new image files found within the first iOS 4.3 beta support the idea that the iPad 2 will have at least one camera capable of both still photo and video capture, while also suggesting that the second-generation device’s screen will sport the same resolution as its predecessor’s. 9 to 5 Mac reports that two images depicting the same shutter screen as found on iPhone and iPod touch—in landscape and portrait orientation—have been found; the new images are labeled as being for the iPad, and not for any other product. Two additional images are used to indicate an empty still photo or video camera roll, and are likewise labeled for iPad. Notably, the camera shutter images are 1024x768 in size, suggesting that Apple plans to keep the same screen resolution in the second-generation iPad as it used in the first.
Further digging into the code of the newly released iOS 4.3 beta has revealed a new MobileMe feature, as well as device keys for unannounced products. Mac Rumors reports that settings for a new feature called “Find My Friends” has been found. The strings appear to be associated with the Settings app and are related to MobileMe, suggesting Apple is planning to launch a MobileMe-based competitor to location-based services like Loopt and Google Latitude. Engadget, meanwhile, has discovered device keys for two next-generation iPhones—labeled iPhone4,1 and iPhone 4,2—as well as three next-generation iPads, labeled iPad2,1, iPad2,2, and iPad2,3. The article speculates that the new iPhone keys are for CDMA and GSM variants of the fifth-generation iPhone, while the iPad keys include CDMA and GSM variants of the iPad 3G, along with a Wi-Fi-only second-generation unit.
Apple has released iOS 4.3 beta 1, the first beta version of its next major point release for iOS, to its paid developers. According to notes accompanying the release, the beta includes a pre-release version of future Apple TV Software so that developers can test AirPlay functionality with their 4.3 apps, meaning that users should be able to send video from apps or websites to the Apple TV under the new software. A prior report also indicated that the Personal Hotspot Internet sharing feature debuting on the Verizon iPhone 4 will make its way to other models under iOS 4.3, although it is unclear whether the functionality is included in this update. Separate beta versions of iOS 4.3 for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch are available as downloads for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.
Update: TUAW reports that the new beta also includes support for new four- and five-finger gestures on the iPad. “This beta release contains a preview of new Multi-Touch gestures for iPad,” reads Apple’s developer page for iOS 4.3. “You can use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen; swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar; and swipe left or right between apps. We are providing this preview before releasing them to the public to understand how these gestures work with your apps. Test them and give us your feedback on the Apple Developer Forums.”
Update x2: Mac Rumors notes that the new beta also offers an option in the Settings app to choose whether the iPad’s side switch acts as a screen rotation lock or as a mute switch. The iPad originally shipped with the switch acting as a screen rotation lock, but Apple changed its behavior in iOS 4.2.
Apple is planning to produce a CDMA-compliant version of the iPad for use on Verizon Wireless, according to a new report. Citing Francis Shammo, CFO of Verizon Communications—Verizon Wireless’ parent company—Bloomberg reports that the new offering will pose a further challenge to AT&T, which lost its iPhone exclusivity with today’s announcement of a CDMA iPhone 4 for Verizon. The report states that Shammo declined to say when the product may become available, but given the fact that the current-generation iPad was revealed almost a year ago, it seems likely that any CDMA version may appear as a second-generation product. Verizon currently sells Wi-Fi-only iPad units—bundled with MiFi mobile hotspots for data access—at its stores.
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch will appear onstage with Apple CEO Steve Jobs to announce the former’s new iPad-only newspaper, The Daily, on January 19, according to new reports. Yahoo! News reports that the event will be held in San Francisco, and that the date could change, although January 19 remains the expected launch date. Citing Ad Age’s Edmund Lee, Forbes reports that Murdoch briefed some reporters on The Daily at the 2011 International CES, although the information is under embargo. Forbes also claims that The Daily’s staffers have been engaged in full-scale dry runs for weeks, and notes that thedaily.com landing page now offers a coming soon message, as well as a new icon (pictured). Prior reports have indicated that The Daily will take advantage of a new subscription plan from Apple that will enable automatic delivery of new content to readers’ iPads.
A rear shell purportedly from the second-generation iPad has been spotted at the 2011 International CES within the iLounge Pavilion. The shell, which has been marked by developer Gopod Mobile with “iPad 2” and “128GB” logos that would not appear on the actual device, is being shown paired with an iPad 2-specific foldable rechargeable battery pack developed by the company, and depicts the revised device’s redesigned curves, ports, and cameras; it is said by Gopod to represent the actual appearance of the as-yet-unreleased thinner and slightly smaller iPad. Three full-sized photos follow; additional photos can be seen in our 2011 CES Photo Gallery.
Sales of iPad-formatted versions of print magazines dropped towards the end of 2010, according to a new report. Citing figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, WWDMedia reports that Vanity Fair sold only 8,700 digital editions in November, down from an average of 10,500 for August, September, and October; Glamour, which sold 4,301 digital issues in September, saw sales drop 20 percent in October and another 20 percent to just 2,775 in November. GQ‘s November sales were the worst since April, when the iPad was released, and Wired saw sales of 22,000 and 23,000 in October and November, respectively, after averaging 31,000 digital sales between July in September, down from sales of over 100,000 in June. While the report notes that publishers are hopeful the sales of new iPads over the holidays will increase sales, it should be mentioned that most digital editions are priced at or above the newsstand price for print editions, with no subscription model currently available. A report from earlier this month indicated that talks between Apple and magazine publishers over the terms of a potential iTunes subscription model were at a standstill, with the two sides unable to agree on revenue and subscriber information sharing issues.
Virtual band Gorillaz has released its new album, The Fall, which was written and performed primarily on the iPad. Over the course of composing and recording the fifteen track album, the band used a variety of applications, including Speak It!, SoundyThingie, Mugician, Solo Synth, Synth, Funk Box, Gliss, AmpliTube, Xenon, iElectribe, BS-16i, M3000 HD, Cleartune, iOrgel HD, Olsynth, StudioMiniXI, BassLine, Harmonizer, Dub Siren Pro, and Moog Filatron. Described by CNN as having a “more basic vibe” than the band’s studio-based efforts, the album was recorded over 32 days on the band’s 2010 North American tour, and was mastered at Abbey Road Studios. Those interested in hearing the album can listen to it for free online by signing up for the band’s mailing list; it is currently available as a free download for members of the band’s fan club, and is expected to see a wider release next year.
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.
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.
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.
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.