Apple has been granted three noteworthy patents relating to the multi-touch technology found in the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The first patent, entitled “Portable Electronic Device with Multi-Touch Input,” describes a method of input that includes “displaying an object on a display surface of a portable electronic device; detecting multi-touch input associated with the object; determining, based on the multi-touch input, an operation to be performed on the object; and performing the operation on the object,” and also mentions gesture recognition and Web page rendering in a multi-touch environment.
The second patent, “Ellipse fitting for multi-touch surfaces,” covers the tracking of multiple fingers and palm contacts as approach, touch and move across a proximity-sensing, multi-touch surface, and the integration of different types of manual input including typing, direct manipulation, and handwriting. The final patent, “Simultaneous Sensing Arrangement,” discusses multi-touch touch-sensor devices and the methods they use to detect and understand touch placement and movement. [via Patently Apple]
G5 Entertainment has released the iPad version of its popular Virtual City simulation game. Released last month for the iPhone and iPod touch, Virtual City is a city-building simulation where players develop their cities to meet specific goals by addressing transportation, entertainment, industrial and environmental needs while also building housing and providing city services such as health care, public safety, waste collection and mass transit. Virtual City HD brings the iPhone and iPod touch gaming experience to the iPad with graphics and controls optimized for the larger screen and includes a new Sandbox Mode allowing players to build their own cities from the ground up in addition to playing through the dozens of in-game scenarios. Virtual City HD is available from the App Store for $10; a free lite version is also available.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless have each announced that they will begin offering the iPad in their stores beginning on October 28. AT&T will offer all three models of the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G at its more than 2,200 stores, while Verizon Wireless will offer the three iPad Wi-Fi models bundled with a Verizon MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot for the same prices as the equivalent iPad Wi-Fi + 3G models: $629 for 16GB units, $729 for 32GB models, and $829 for 64GB devices, making the relative price of the MiFi $130. The MiFi 2200 is a portable, battery-powered hotspot that uses Verizon’s 3G cellular network to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal to up to five devices, including the Wi-Fi-only iPad, as well as the iPod touch and computers, eliminating the need for devices to have built-in cellular data hardware.
Verizon’s pricing for the bundle compares favorably with its listed retail MiFi price of $270, though the MiFi costs more than it would with a two-year Verizon contract; it is being offered for free after a $100 online discount. However, Verizon will offer a monthly access plan for iPad customers of up to 1GB of data for $20 a month—half the price and quadruple the data of the company’s traditional 250MB for $40/month MiFi offering—yet will provide iPad service on a month-to-month, no contract basis, a sign that a major deal was struck with Apple to improve upon its expensive current data plans to attract iPad customers, and possibly future iPhone customers, as well. Verizon will also offer the iPad in its stores on a standalone, un-bundled basis. “This is the perfect pairing for holiday travels,” said John Stratton, chief operating officer for Verizon Wireless. “iPad together with the nation’s largest and most reliable 3G data network allows customers to easily connect on the go wherever they are.”
Sam’s Club, the warehouse club owned and operated by Walmart, has announced plans to offer the iPhone and iPad in its membership warehouse stores. The Street reports that the announcement was made during Walmart’s annual meeting this morning; no timeframe was given for when the devices would hit store shelves. Additionally, the company said it was attempting to increase the quality in its consumer electronic categories, and that it will offer non-food in-store demos to help facilitate growth in other categories. The announcement comes at a time when a number of retailers, including Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, have been adding the iPad to their Apple device offerings ahead of the holiday season.
At a ceremony last night, Apple was awarded five T3 Gadget Awards, the most of any company. The iPad received Innovation of the Year and Gadget of the Year awards, while the iPhone 4 was picked as Commuter Gadget of the Year, but lost Phone of the Year to HTC’s Desire. Apple also won computer and retailing awards in the ceremony, during which British actor and writer Stephen Fry produced a white iPhone 4 on stage, joking that it was the “only one in Europe.”
In its continuing effort to expand iPad distribution ahead of the holiday shopping season, Apple has secured a place for the iPad on the shelves of select Walmart stores. Citing an internal Walmart email, Mac Rumors reports that through the end of October, Walmart will be rolling the iPad out to approximately 1,000 stores, with plans to expand iPad sales to another 800 locations in November. The email suggests that Walmart will offer all six models of the iPad, with initial inventory to be limited to five units for the store to which the email was sent. Not long after publishing the initial email screenshots, a photo showing an iPad for sale on the shelves of a Denver, Colorado Walmart was added to the report, indicating that the company’s roll out of the tablet has already begun. In recent weeks, Apple has increased the number of retail outlets carrying the tablet computer by expanding iPad sales to all U.S. Best Buy stores and by rolling the device out at Target stores.
Update: Walmart has confirmed that it will offer all six models of the iPad in hundreds of its stores beginning on Friday, Oct. 15, and will expand to 2,300 stores in November. In addition, Walmart.com will sell the iPad through its Site to Store service, which provides free shipping of online orders to a local Walmart store.
CBS Mobile and Chillingo have released a new universal iOS game based on the Emmy-nominated television series Numb3rs. In Numb3rs The Game, fans take on the role of an FBI consultant tasked with bringing down a sinister criminal network in Los Angeles, working alongside popular Numb3rs characters such as Charlie and Don Eppes. Numb3rs is a logic action game where players must solve mathematical puzzles and equations and play various mini-game missions such as diffusing bombs and interrogating suspects. The game also provides multiple difficulty levels and integrates with Chillingo’s Crystal social gaming platform for posting scores to leaderboards and tracking achievements. Numb3rs The Game is a universal iPad/iPHone application and is available from the App Store for $1.
Electronic Arts has announced its fall 2010 lineup of iPhone, iPod touch and iPad games. Upcoming titles include SimCity Deluxe for the iPad and EA Sports FIFA 11, EA Sports NBA Elite 11, EA Sports MMA, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Heroes Lore and High Caliber Hunting for the iPhone and iPod touch.
SimCity Deluxe for iPad will bring the popular iPhone and iPod touch title to the iPad screen with higher-resolution HD graphics including textured terrain, a larger interactive display, controls optimized for the iPad screen and new game features such as simultaneous disaster strikes. SimCity Deluxe for iPad is scheduled for release in November.
Three new EA Sports titles have also been announced for the iPhone and iPod touch, all scheduled for release later this month. EA Sports FIFA 11 will deliver updated players, teams and stadiums to the 2010 edition, high-resolution Retina Display graphics and improved dual control options to provide advanced controls for experienced players and simplicity for casual players.
Mercedes-Benz Financial has announced that the results of its limited iPad pilot program were so “overwhelmingly positive” that the company is expanding the program to all 355 dealerships in the U.S. During the pilot phase, select dealerships in the U.S. were letting potential customers fill out paperwork on the spot using iPads, instead of forcing them into a dealership office to complete the sale, with the hopes of preserving more sales lost at the last minute. “We were surprised,” Andreas Hinrichs, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz Financial, said in an interview with Macworld. “The feedback was so positive we said, we need to push this out to all the dealers and take the financing process to a new level.” The company will also begin use of the 3G-enabled iPads in its leasing process, allowing customers returning vehicles to watch the post-lease inspection and sign the completed forms using their finger.
In addition, Mercedes is showing off a prototype iPad docking station at the Paris Motor Show. Similar to the one shown at the show by rival manufacturer BMW, the Mercedes mount sits horizontally behind the front seat headrest and allows back seat passengers full use of the iPad while it charges. No pricing or availability information has yet been announced.
Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Motorola, Inc., has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and certain Mac computers infringe Motorola patents. The company has also filed patent infringement complaints against Apple in the Northern District of Illinois and the Southern District of Florida. According to Motorola’s announcement, the three complaints include 18 patents, which relate to “wireless communication technologies, such as WCDMA (3G), GPRS, 802.11 and antenna design, and key smartphone technologies including wireless email, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multi-device synchronization.” Motorola Mobility has asked the ITC to start an investigation into Apple’s potential infringement and issue an Exclusion Order barring the importation, sales, marketing, advertising, and use of such products in the U.S.; in its court cases, it is seeking to force Apple to cease using its patented technology and provide compensation for any past infringement.
Target is not doing the best job when it comes to retailing the iPad, according to a new report. IfoAppleStore reports that while the iPad is in a decent, but not great, position next to Target’s electronics point-of-sale counter—a position also occupied by Apple’s line of iPods—not a single iPad, non-working or otherwise, was available for customers to look at. No information cards or descriptions of the device’s capabilities were on display, and the iPad boxes themselves were locked behind glass doors, with no salespeople available to discuss the product or even remove one from the case. In addition, a small range of iPad accessories, including the iPad Camera Connection Kit, were on display on an end-cap adjacent to the iPad area, but once again, the products were locked down, requiring assistance for purchase. Over a half an hour span on Sunday afternoon, ifoAppleStore reports that not a single person approached iPad display; during the same hour, multiple customers approached the live display of touchable, usable iPads at a nearby Best Buy.
Canadian television network Citytv has launched an official application for watching streaming network content on the iPad. Citytv Video works over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections and provides free, ad-supported access on-demand to popular prime-time content such as Modern Family, Biggest Loser, Cougar Town, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother and more. Users can view both full-length programs or short clips of highlights and access both current and previous episodes. The application also provides live streaming of Breakfast Television, Citytv’s daily morning show as well as a catalog of video clips from CityLine and previous episodes of Breakfast Television Toronto. An integrated TV schedule allows users to see what’s airing on Citytv and users can also configure Push Notifications to alert them when new episodes of their favourite shows are available for streaming. The app also provides a viewing history and the ability to flag favorite episodes and share links to content via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. Citytv Video is available from the Canadian App Store as a free download and supports both the iPad Wi-Fi and iPad 3G. Citytv is owned by Rogers Media, a sister company of Rogers Wireless which provides iPad 3G data services in Canada. Unlike some of the prior iOS apps released by Rogers Media, however, a Rogers data plan is not required to use this app.
The Omni Group has released a major update to OmniGraffle, its professional diagramming application for the iPad. OmniGraffle for the iPad is an iOS version of The Omni Group’s popular desktop application of the same name, and provides functionality similar to Microsoft’s Visio for Windows, allowing users to create diagram style drawings such as process charts, page layouts, wireframes and graphic designs, taking full advantage of the iPad multitouch interface. OmniGraffle 1.3 adds support for importing photos from the iPad photo library onto an existing canvas or into the application’s shape library. Users can set photo opacity, position, rotate, resize and crop photos. Integration with the Graffletopia online stencil repository allows users to download and install new stencils directly into the app, providing quick and easy access to new collections of images and shapes. The update also adds a new Line Tool and Text Tool to the palette of drawing tools, adds favorite and default styles for all of the existing tools and provides the ability to have multiple fonts and colors for text labels. The latest version also includes a number of interface and usability improvements to make working with OmniGraffle easier. OmniGraffle is available from the App Store for $50; version 1.3 is a free update for current users.
Amazon.com has started selling the iPad directly. Previously available from the online retailer through third-parties, Amazon itself is now stocking and selling both 32GB and 64GB Wi-Fi models. It is unclear whether Amazon will start selling 16GB and/or Wi-Fi + 3G models at some point in the future; all but the 16GB with Wi-Fi + 3G models are available on the site from a third-party reseller. The expansion of iPad distribution comes just one day after Target began selling the iPad in its U.S. stores.
Apple has released an update to its MobileMe Gallery application adding native iPad support. MobileMe Gallery is a free app that allows iOS device users to browse through their own and their friends’ MobileMe Galleries directly on an iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The application provides features similar to the built-in Photos app including pinch-to-zoom for photos, portrait and landscape orientation and support for playing videos from MobileMe. Previously-viewed photos are also cached for offline viewing. MobileMe Gallery version 1.2 is now a universal app offering full iPad support as well as fast app switching for iOS 4 devices and support for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch Retina Displays. iPhone and iPad users can also now view friends’ galleries without requiring their own MobileMe subscription, a feature conspicuously omitted for iPod touch users. MobileMe Gallery is available from the App Store as a free download.
The NPD Group has released several new pieces of information from its second in a series of surveys about the iPad. The study found that customer satisfaction was higher among early adopters of the iPad—those who purchased the device in its first two months of availability—than those who purchased their iPad more recently, with 80 percent of early adopters very satisfied with the device, compared to 65 percent of more recent purchasers. Interestingly, this wasn’t the only metric in which the early adopters differed from new owners; early adopters were 44 percent more likely to watch YouTube videos, 50 percent more likely to watch movies, 60 percent more likely to watch TV shows, and 38 percent more likely to read e-books. Early adopters were also slightly more likely to be Mac owners, with 50 percent owning Macs compared to 45 percent of later purchasers. Overall, 38 percent of iPad users also own an iPhone, only 13 percent said they purchased an iPad instead of a PC, and 24 percent said the iPad replaced a planned e-reader purchase. NPD’s online survey was conducted in August amongst more than 500 adult iPad owners.
Good.iWare has released a major update to GoodReader for iPad, its popular iPad document reader and file management app, adding full PDF annotation support and several other enhancements. GoodReader for iPad allows users to download and view and store various file formats including PDF, text, Microsoft Office, iWork and audio and video and includes advanced features for working with PDf files. Version 3.0 adds full PDF annotation support, including notes, highlights, markups and drawings in PDF documents. Annotations created and edited in GoodReader are saved into the PDF file so they can be accessed on other platforms such as a desktop computer, and PDF annotations created and properly stored by other applications can be viewed and edited in GoodReader. Users can create and edit comments and tag them with different icons, highlight text in a PDF document and add freehand drawings, lines, arrows, strikeouts, text insertion/replacement marks, and more. GoodReader also allows support for viewing, limited editing and removing several other types of annotations such as text boxes, rubber stamps, and file attachments. Files can also now be extracted from PDF file attachments and viewed or saved within GoodReader. Other new features in GoodReader for iPad 3.0 include the ability to select text directly on a page and hide PDF watermarks as well as stability improvements when loading certain types of PDF files. Users can also now choose a minimum zoom ratio for PDF pages, extract files of any size from a PDF portfolio and duplicate files for creating annotations without modifying the original. GoodReader for iPad is available from the App Store for an introductory price of $1.
New menu options in the Settings app of the iPad’s version of iOS 4.2 beta 2 suggest that Apple may begin to allow iPad users to tether other devices to its 3G data connection, similar to the tethering feature currently offered on the iPhone. 9 to 5 Mac reports that there is now a section for Internet Tethering within the Cellular Data>APN Settings submenu of the Settings application. The section has spaces for the APN, username, and password; according to the report, this is similar to the function’s appearance on the iPhone before it received an official iOS interface. Notably, 9 to 5 Mac could not replicate the new setting on an iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G running on AT&T’s network; the iPad from which the screenshot came was running on 3’s network in Europe.
Mobiata, developer of FlightTrack Pro, has released FlightBoard, a virtual airport departure and arrivals board for iOS devices. FlightBoard features a design based on the Arrivals and Departures board at Charles de Gaulle Airport and allows users to turn their screen into a view of scheduled flights for just about any airport in the world, including flight status and gate numbers. FlightBoard works with over 4,000 airports and 1,400 airlines worldwide and users can quickly switch between departures and arrivals views and share flight information with friends and family via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail. A search interface allows users to quickly narrow results down and get real-time status for just about any flight in the world. FlightBoard is a universal app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices and is available from the App Store for $4.
Apple has released an update to its Remote application for iOS devices, adding native iPad support and compatibility with iTunes 10 and the new Apple TV. Remote 2.0 provides a slightly redesigned user interface on the iPhone and iPod touch to reflect changes in the iOS 4 iPod and Music applications as well as adding support for the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4G. When running on the iPad, the new Remote application mirrors the design of iTunes 10 when viewed in landscape mode, even including similar playback controls, status window and search fields found at the top of the screen. The update also adds the individual AirPlay volume controls introduced in iTunes 10 and includes support for accessing and controlling Shared Libraries on iTunes and the new Apple TV and can now automatically add iTunes and 2G Apple TV libraries through the iTunes Home Sharing feature. Remote 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.