Following its official announcement at the iPad 2 media event yesterday, Apple has released a pre-release version of the Gold Master of iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to members of the iOS developer program. This likely represents the last developer-only release prior to the final public release of iOS 4.3 which has been scheduled for March 11th. It is currently unknown what specific changes have been made in this latest version, although Apple highlighted some of the new features in iOS 4.3 during yesterday’s media event and some previews have been seen from prior beta releases. Apple’s iOS 4.3 GM seeds for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch are available now to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center. Notably, although developers were previously provided with a beta version of iOS 4.3 for the Apple TV, a GM seed of the Apple TV iOS has not yet been made available.
Obscured by the many iPad 2-related announcements yesterday, Apple failed to make any mention of MobileMe-based video or photo uploading during its media event. A quick scan of Apple’s iPad 2 mini-site shows that no references are made to sharing photos or videos via MobileMe, although the service is still mentioned by name in references to synchronization and location-based services. Recent reports have suggested that Apple is working on a revamp of its paid MobileMe service which would position it as a free online, cloud-based “locker” for content such as photos, videos, and music. In addition, the company recently discontinued its boxed MobileMe retail packages before pulling it from its computer configuration options and ultimately removing any method through which a user could pay for the service. References to a “Media Stream” service have been found inside recent beta versions of iOS 4.3, which might point to a replacement service for traditional MobileMe sharing options.
Following yesterday’s announcement of the iPad 2, Apple is now selling the original first-generation iPad as refurbished for prices starting at $349 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model up to $659 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G model, with new units selling at $100 reductions from their original $499 to $829 asking prices. Similar price reductions have been made in other countries as well, where the first-generation iPad is still being sold on the main Apple Store pages at reduced prices, pending the March 25th release of the iPad 2 in those countries.
Further, Electric Pig is reporting that Apple is offering refunds for customers who have purchased first-generation iPads within the past 14 days. Upon request to the company, Apple will refund the $100 price difference for customers who would prefer to keep their original iPad rather than returning it.
We’ve just posted an iPad 2 hands-on interface video (new: HD version) on Vimeo so that you can check out the new camera features, settings, and other neat features of the second-generation iPad, as well as a hands-on iPad Smart Cover installation video showing how the magnetic clasp system and auto-lock/unlock features work. For more hands-on details, check out our First Looks at the iPad 2 and the iPad Smart Cover.
Apple has announced that the iPad 2 will be launched simultaneously in 26 additional countries around the world on March 25, two weeks following its U.S. debut. Countries included in the March 25 launch are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. The company intends to launch the iPad 2 in even more countries worldwide “in the coming months” but has not yet committed to which additional countries or any specific release dates. Pricing for the iPad 2 outside of the U.S. has not been announced, and the Apple Stores in other countries are not accepting pre-orders or providing any additional information, instead simply prompting users to sign up to be notified of additional release details as they become available.
Apple has released information on its web site indicating that the iPad 2 will go on sale in the U.S. on March 11th at 5:00 pm. Notably, unlike previous Apple product releases it does not appear that customers will be able to pre-order the device online or pre-reserve a device for pickup at a local Apple Retail Store. The Apple Store indicates that customers will be able to place an order “starting March 11.”
The iPad 2 will be selling at the same price points as the original iPad, with the Wi-Fi models selling for $499, $599 and $699 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, respectively, and the Wi-Fi + 3G versions selling for $130 more at $629, $729 and $829. Separate Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available for both AT&T and Verizon.
Today Apple also announced the upcoming release of two new Apple applications for the iPad: iMovie and GarageBand. iMovie will be released as a universal app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch and provides new features such as multi-track audio editing, a precision editor, and the ability to output video via AirPlay and share videos in HD with popular sites. The app will include an improved UI evolved from the original iMovie app for iOS released last summer, resembling more of a beginners’ version of iMovie for the Mac with more powerful editing features. The new version will include a new voiceover recording system, three new themes, sound effects, transitions and new visual effects. Users will be able to share videos from iMovie to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and CNN iReport.
GarageBand for the iPad will include built-in touch instruments, guitar amps and effects with eight-track mixing and 250 loops built-in. Files created in the iPad version of GarageBand can be used with the Mac version and vice-versa, and GarageBand on the iPad will be able to output directly into AAC format for sending content via e-mail. Users can transform the iPad screen into a variety of touch instruments such as a piano, synthesizer, drum kit or virtual Smart Guitar all with photorealistic interfaces. The app will also take advantage of the accelerometer for velocity-sensitivity on piano keys and drum sets. The app will also provide a series of Smart Instruments designed to be easily played by novices and experienced musicians alike. Users will be able to record from any instrument screen and e-mail their mixes or send them to iTunes.
Both applications are scheduled to be released on March 11th and will sell for $5 each.
During today’s Media Event, Apple’s Scott Forstall provided a preview of iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The new iOS update is expected to improve Safari performance using the Nitro engine for twice the speed and as expected will include improved support for AirPlay video and audio from third-party apps, the ability to customize the iPad switch for mute or orientation lock and support for the new Personal Hotspot feature first debuted on the Verizon iPhone 4. iOS 4.3 will also include support for iTunes Home Sharing, allowing users to wirelessly stream content to an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch from their iTunes library. The iPad 2 will ship with iOS 4.3 which also provides support for FaceTime on the iPad and new software for the iPad 2 cameras. iOS 4.3 is scheduled to be released on March 11 and will support the iPhone 3GS and GSM iPhone 4, first-generation iPad and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. Notably, support for the Verizon iPhone will not be included in the initial iOS 4.3 release; it is unclear whether a later update will be released separately for the Verizon iPhone 4.
At today’s iPad 2 Media Event, Apple’s Scott Forstall provided a demonstration of the new camera features that will be included on the iPad 2. As expected, the iPad 2 will provide built-in support for FaceTime in a manner similar to the FaceTime application included on the fourth-generation iPod touch. FaceTime on the iPad will be shown full-screen and as with other FaceTime-capable devices users will be able to see a preview window in the corner of the screen and switch between cameras to show people what they are looking at.
Apple also unveiled Photo Booth for iOS, which will be included on the iPad 2 as part of iOS 4.3. Similar to the Mac application of the same name, Photo Booth on the iPad 2 will allow users to take pictures with either the front or rear cameras and apply a collection of special effects chosen from windows at the bottom of the screen. Photos can be shared with friends and Forstall noted that the iPad 2 is so fast that 9 live video feeds for the special effects can be previewed on the screen simultaneously.
During its Media Event today Apple unveiled the latest-generation iPad. Dubbed the iPad 2, Steve Jobs described the new model as an entirely new design. Building on last year’s A4 chip, the iPad 2 features a dual-core A5 chip which provides essentially two processors for twice the performance. Graphics performance in the new model has been enhanced even further with nine times the performance of the first-generation model. Despite the performance improvements, the A5 chip provides the same lower power consumption as last year’s A4 chip, providing the same legendary 10-hour battery life as the first-generation iPad.
As anticipated, the iPad 2 will also include two video cameras—one rear and one front camera for FaceTime, video and photo capture similar to the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. The new model also adds the gyroscope sensor first introduced on the iPhone 4 last summer. Despite the extra hardware, the iPad 2 comes in at 66% of the thickness of the original iPad at 8.8mm—thinner than the iPhone 4, and reducing the weight to 1.3 pounds.
The iPad 2 will be available in two colours—black and white, both available from launch day, as well as 3G versions for both AT&T and Verizon at launch. The iPad 2 is expected to retail at the same prices as last year’s original iPad, with the 16GB model selling for $499 in the U.S. Expected release date is March 11th in the United States, followed by a simultaneous release in 26 other countries on March 25th.
Hours ahead of the official announcement of the second-generation iPad, Chinese site DGtle has posted a series of photos purporting to represent the new device. Though the images appear to be a very close approximation of the iPad rear casing first spotted by iLounge in January, notably including a different speaker grille design and a 3G antenna panel, the images also show seams, edges and a model number on the back that call into question their legitimacy as photos of a production iPad model as opposed to a mockup. Until the actual iPad design is unveiled later today, images of this sort should be taken for what they are: approximations that can be used to understand general changes likely to appear in an upcoming iPad model.
iLounge will provide live coverage of Apple’s special event in San Francisco tomorrow, starting a little bit before 10:00 AM Pacific Time/1:00PM Eastern Time. We look forward to having you join us here for the event, which is expected to include announcements of the second-generation iPad, iOS 4.3, and updated iTunes/MobileMe services, but could possibly go further.
Bookmark Live.iLounge.com today. Right before the event begins, we’ll be switching over to that special page for updates so that we can optimize performance for all of our readers. A separate chat room will host reader discussions of the announcements as they happen. See you then!
Update: We’re updating the Live.iLounge.com page now with photo links and text. Check it out!
The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the iPad for use as an alternative to paper flight charts. CNN reports that the approval, which applies only to charter company Executive Jet Management and the app Mobile TC, took three months of rigorous testing across 250 flights, and included rapid decompression testing. In addition, the airline will be required to carry a second approved electronic device—most likely a second iPad—in case of a system or software crash, although neither the device nor the app crashed during testing. Jeff Buhl, product manager for the Mobile TC app at developer Jeppesen, said the iOS operating system and app proved “extremely stable” during testing, adding that in the “unlikely” event of a crash, the app is ready to go again in “in 4-6 seconds from re-launch to previous state.”
Despite the approval’s limited conditions, the report notes that it opens the door for other operators, including major airlines, to move to iPad-based charts, though any airline wishing to use the device will have to go through equally rigorous testing. “As far as the iPad is concerned, we do that on a case-by-case basis when an airline applies to be able to use it,” said FAA spokesman Les Dorr. According to Jeppesen, several carriers are looking into using the iPad and Mobile TC; Alaska Airlines began testing the iPad in November and there are now roughly 100 pilots currently evaluating the device.
As expected, Apple has sent out invitations to select members of the media inviting them to a special event on March 2. The image accompanying the invitation features a mockup of iOS’s Calendar app set for the date of March 2, with a corner peeled back to reveal an image of the original iPad underneath, and the tagline “Come see what 2011 will be the year of.” Apple is expected to unveil the second-generation iPad at the event; the device itself is expected to feature a front-facing camera for FaceTime video calling, a larger speaker, and a thinner design, among other improvements. The event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco and will start at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.
Apple is scheduled to hold a special media event on March 2 in San Francisco, at which it will unveil the second-generation iPad. Citing several sources close to the situation, AllThingsD reports that the date is firm, and that the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is the likely venue; notably, it served as the venue for Apple’s original iPad media event, as well. Apple has yet to send out invitations to media members officially confirming the event and the time/place, but given the close proximity of March 2, it will likely do so later this week.
Apple has secured close to 60 percent of global touch panel capacity for 2011, leading to tight supplies for its competitors, according to a new report. Citing sources from upstream component makers, DigiTimes reports that Apple’s move was made in order to achieve its internal goal of shipping 40 million iPads in 2011, with the company holding control over the capacity of major panel suppliers such as Wintek and TPK. Sources from iPad distributors reportedly said that Apple’s 2010 order forecasts to OEM partners were also high, but the biggest problem on the supply side was not capacity, but instead low yields of touch panels. The report notes that aside from Apple, large companies such as Motorola, RIM, and HP are also competing for related components, leaving second-tier tablet makers “out of the game.”
LogicInMind has updated its PowerPoint presentation remote application for iOS devices adding streaming of presentations to the Apple TV. SlideShow Remote allows presenters to control a Windows PowerPoint presentation from their iOS device, including previewing slides, reading personal notes and quickly jumping to any slide. Users can also download presentations to view slides without a computer and give presentations directly from their iOS device using Apple’s Dock Connector to VGA adapter. Version 2.6 now incorporates AirPlay support for iOS 4.2 devices allowing iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to wirelessly stream PowerPoint slides directly from their device to a second-generation Apple TV. SlideShow Remote 2.6 is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $5. The application is compatible with Microsoft Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 and Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 or later. PowerPoint on Mac OS X is not currently supported. VGA output is available with the Apple Dock Connector to VGA Adapter on the iPad, iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch; AirPlay support requires an AirPlay-compatible device running iOS 4.2 or later.
A new report claims that Apple and Samsung are negotiating a component contract that would see the iPhone maker purchase $7.8 billion in parts from Samsung this year. Citing industry sources, the Korea Economic Daily, via the Wall Street Journal, reports that the massive contract would include LCD displays, mobile application processors, and NAND flash memory chips used in the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. The report notes that should the contract push through, Apple would become Samsung’s largest customer.
Naan Studio has released a major update to its popular Twitter client, Echofon adding native iPad support to the free version as well as several other new features for both the free and paid versions. Echofon 4.0 is now a universal application supporting the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad; previously only Echofon Pro offered native iPad support. Version 4.0 on the iPad also introduces support for Twitter’s real-time user streams providing instantaneous updates of new tweets without having to rely on a refresh cycle. A new mute feature allows users to filter out specific users, clients or hashtags from their Twitter stream and global push notifications have now been made available to users of the free version. In addition, Push Notifications have been expanded to include not only mentions, replies and direct messages but now also include new followings, favorites and native Twitter retweets. Account settings for features such as mute filters and push notifications can also now be synchronized automatically across multiple iOS devices. Echofon is available from the App Store in two versions: Echofon (free) and Echofon Pro ($5). The free version is ad-supported but as of version 4.0 otherwise includes the same features of Echofon Pro.
HP today unveiled its upcoming TouchPad tablet device, a likely rival to the iPad. Looking remarkably similar to a first-generation iPad, the TouchPad features a 9.7-inch, 1024x768 multi-touch screen—the same size and resolution as the iPad—a weight of 1.6 pounds—the same weight as an iPad 3G—and measures 7.48 inches x 9.53 inches x .54 inches, or just slightly wider, shorter, and thicker than the first-generation iPad, which measures 7.47 inches x 9.56 inches x 0.5 inches. Beyond those physical similarities, the device also shares several technical features with the iPad, including 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR wireless capabilities, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, A-GPS in the 3G model, a digital compass, stereo speakers, and an accelerometer. It will be powered by a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, and will also feature a gyroscope and a front-facing 1.3 megapixel webcam.
The device will run webOS 3.0, the next-generation of the operating system debuted by Palm in its Pre handset, offering “true” multitasking, a “Touch-to-Share” feature that allows for the transfer of data from one device to another by tapping the two devices together, wireless printing, a full web browser with Adobe Flash support, and more. Several aspects of webOS 3.0 demoed during HP’s unveiling event looked very similar to those found in iOS 4.x on the iPad, most notably the mail application and the on-screen keyboard. WebOS 3.0 will also support wireless communication between webOS-based smartphones and the TouchPad via a new Touchstone dock. HP said that Wi-Fi-only, 3G, and 4G versions of the device will be available this summer, with pricing to be determined at a later date. [via Engadget]