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]
Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s next-generation iPad is now in production. The report echoes what many prior reports have indicated: that the device will be thinner and lighter, with at least one camera—a front-facing sensor for FaceTime—more memory, and a faster processor. In addition, it claims that the device’s resolution will be “similar” to that of the first-generation iPad; Apple has had trouble improving the display technology, in part because of the screen’s larger size, according to the report. Foxconn is said to be assembling the new model, which will initially be available through Apple as well as Verizon Wireless and AT&T, and is expected to launch in the “next couple of months.”
Rogers has outed its new data sharing options, with a special option for iPhone users on the 6GB/$30 a month plan. Under this new option, users who are already paying $30 for 6GB of data a month on their iPhones will need to pay an extra $30 a month—plus the Government Regulatory Recovery Fee—in order to share that data with an iPad. As iLounge editor Jesse David Hollington notes, Rogers offers a standalone 5GB/$35 a month data plan for iPads, making the new $30 option a poor deal for users wanting to share data with their iPad 3G units. iPhone in Canada speculates that with the launch of these new data sharing options, Rogers may be preparing to charge for iOS 4.3’s Personal Hotspot feature, despite the fact that they haven’t charged for USB/Bluetooth tethering in the past. Unless Rogers was able to disable the Wi-Fi sharing feature of the Personal Hotspot individually, this would actually take away existing free functionality from current users by disabling Bluetooth and USB tethering. Users who aren’t on the $30 for 6GB of data plan can share their data with other devices for a charge of $10-$15 per month.
The Daily has released the first update to its iPad application, a small maintenance update intended to provide increased performance and stability. The new version also advertises an “improved introduction experience” and makes some fixes to Twitter integration and image caption text concatenation. Notably the update advises current users of The Daily that they should delete the app from their device before upgrading to 1.0.1, suggesting that there may be problems with the process of installing the upgrade over the existing app. Users who update the app automatically via iTunes or the iPad App Store without removing version 1.0 should not experience any problems with their iPad outside of the application itself, but may need to remove and reinstall The Daily manually in order to benefit from some of the improvements. The Daily is available from the App Store as a free download with an in-app subscription of $1 per week or $40 per year required to continue receiving new content.
Apple has made several notable changes to the App Store interface on the iPad. When searching for an item or term, new filter buttons appear as a toolbar at the top of the results page, allowing users to filter the results by category, release date, customer rating, price, and device compatibility, reports Macstories. Also changed is the App Store’s behavior with previously-purchased apps. In the past, if a user went to download a previously-purchased app that was not installed on the device, he or she was presented with the standard price button, followed by a “buy now” button. Only after the user was sent back to the Home screen for installation did a notice pop up that the item was previously purchased and could be installed at no charge. Now, apps that have been purchased, but are not installed on the device, are displayed with an “install” button beside them, denoting that they can be downloaded and installed without incurring further charges. [via Mac Rumors]
A prototype of the second-generation iPad was present at the media event for the launch of News Corp.‘s new tablet-based newspaper The Daily. Reuters reports that an eyewitness saw the device, which the report describes as “a working model” with “a front-facing camera at the top edge of the glass screen.” The report also states that a source with knowledge of the device confirmed its existence, but added that the final release model’s feature set may differ from that of the prototype’s. Prior reports, including a mock-up rear shell spotted by iLounge at CES, have suggested that the next-generation iPad will include both front- and rear-facing cameras, as well as a slimmer, flatter body.
Code found within the third beta version of iOS 4.3 suggests the second-generation iPad will ship with a three megapixel camera. Web developer Chris Galzerano, who inspected the beta, claims that a plist file led him to a folder called “N88” which contained another plist file describing a three megapixel camera for photography use. Another plist file inspected by Galzerano suggested that the device will record 720p video—consistent with earlier reports—and that it would contain both a compass and DisplayPort compatibility, the latter either through a new physical port or, more likely, a new 30-pin dongle. As prior reports have had differing conclusions on the specifications of the second-generation iPad’s rear-facing sensor—including one based on code from the prior iOS 4.3 beta which claimed that it would be a one megapixel sensor—it remains difficult to state with any certainty which is correct.
Update: 9 to 5 Mac, which previously claimed the second-generation iPad would have a one megapixel camera, reports that the “N88” designation as referenced by Galzerano actually refers to the iPhone 3GS, thus explaining the reference to a three megapixel camera inside that folder’s plist file, thus disproving Galzerano’s findings. The report goes on to state that all iOS devices refer to the 30-pin Dock Connector as a “displayport,” and that the iPad 2’s actual codename is K94.
News Corp. has launched “The Daily,” a new iPad-based daily newspaper. The Daily will offer over 100 pages of original content each day, including original video content, a selection of articles that users can choose to have read aloud, “360 degree” photos that users can explore by swiping, and interactive charts and information graphics. Features will include the ability to save articles for later reading, web-friendly versions of articles for sharing online, in-app comments, including audio comments, local weather, scores and news regarding the user’s favorite sports teams, and both crossword and sudoku puzzles. The app will also utilize a new “In-App Subscription” billing option from Apple. The Daily will be published 365 days a year, and will initially be available exclusively on the iPad in the United States, with pricing set at $0.99 per week, or $40 per year; the first two weeks will be free, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.
News Corporation has announced a live video feed for its launch of The Daily, an iPad-specific publication that will be introduced by company chairman/CEO Rupert Murdoch and Apple iTunes executive Eddy Cue. In-app subscription billing through iTunes is expected to be introduced during the event, enabling News Corp. to charge a recurring 99-cent fee to continue use of its publication. We will be updating this story with additional information regarding the event, which kicks off at 11:00AM Eastern Time today.
Updated: A full play-by-play of the event can be found in chronological order by clicking on the title of this news story. In sum, News Corp. and Apple announced a 99-cent weekly recurring subscription package with an annual $39.99 subscription option—numbers designed to make the $30 million dollar initial setup cost and $500,000 per week expense of operating the publication become profitable over time. Advertising is initially expected to be a smaller contributor than subscriptions to the publication’s bottom line. News Corp. did not commit to the publication’s editorial tone, deflecting questions from the audience as to whether it would shift from the company’s traditionally conservative or “downmarket” perspectives, but claimed that it was being designed to appeal to “everybody.”
Editor’s Note: Comments to this article have been closed as they were largely impertinent to the announcements made today. We’re not interested in hosting a debate on News Corp.‘s well-established political agenda, or discussing whether the company’s products are actually “fair and balanced.”
Apple has released the third beta version of iOS 4.3 to its paid developers. Listed as build number 8F5166b, it is unclear what has changed in the new version from prior betas, which included the new Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi sharing feature and enhanced AirPlay support for Safari and third-party apps. In addition, the release is once again accompanied by a new preview build of Apple TV Software 4.3. Separate versions of iOS 4.3 beta 2 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.
For more information on iOS 4.3, see our Full Breakdown article.
Samsung’s Android-powered iPad competitor, the Galaxy Tab, is facing both slow sales and a high return rate, according to a new report. Citing data from ITG, the New York Post reports that the Tab saw a 15 percent return rate from its debut in November through January 16. The same data states that the iPad saw a return rate of only two percent over the same period. “Consumers aren’t in love with the [Galaxy Tab],” said Tony Berkman, a consumer tech analyst with ITG. Samsung recently announced it had sold two million Galaxy Tab units, but later clarified that statement, saying that was actually the number of devices it shipped to wireless companies and retailers, and adding that sales to consumers were “quite small.” Apple had sold 14.79 million iPads as of December 25, based on figures provided in its latest quarterly earnings release.
Update: Samsung has since issued a statement refuting ITG’s figures, and stating that the return rate for the Galaxy Tab is “below two percent.”
Apple officially launched the iPad in South Africa over the weekend. According to a MyBroadband report, Core Group, an official distributor of Apple products, launched the iPad in various iStore, Incredible Connection, and Dion Wired stores. Pricing for the iPad with Wi-Fi starts at R4,399 (roughly $615) for the 16GB model and goes to R6,399 (~$895) for the 64GB version, while iPad 3G units run from R5,599 (~$784) for the 16GB model to R7,599 (~$1,063) for the 64GB version. Notably, these prices represent substantial discounts over the prices being charged by importers, who were charging R6,500 and up for 16GB Wi-Fi models all the way to R9,500 and up for 64GB iPad 3G units.
Antecea has released Cloud Connect Pro, a new app for the iPad designed to provide a complete set of file management and remote desktop features. Cloud Connect Pro allows users to access and manage their files on cloud-based services such as Dropbox, MobileMe iDisk and Box.net as well as remote Windows, Mac and Linux PCs. Users can also remotely control desktop computers via either the VNC or RDP protocols; an optional Easy Connect app allows users to connect to their remote computers using Google authentication or the iOS VPN feature can be used to access computers behind a corporate firewall. Supported protocols for remote file access include SMB, AFP, FTP, SFTP and WebDAV (HTTP/HTTPS); an SMB server mode also allows the iPad to act as a network drive to be accessed from computers on the same local network. Users can copy, rename, delete and move files, edit text files, zip and unzip files and folders, open files in other third-party apps and send any file as an e-mail attachment using the iPad Mail app. Audio recordings can also be created from directly within the app and any supported file can be printed via AirPrint. Other features include simultaneous transfer of multiple files and folders, streaming of video and audio content, Wake on LAN for remote computers, iTunes File Sharing over USB and SSH Public Key authentication for SFTP. Cloud Connect Pro requires an iPad running iOS 3.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $20.
A new class action lawsuit has been filed against AT&T, claiming that the company over bills for data usage, Courthouse News reports. According to the suit, which was filed in federal court by Patrick Hendricks, “AT&T’s bills systematically overstate the amount of data used on each data transaction involving an iPhone or iPad account,” going on to describe it as being “like a rigged gas tank that charges pump that charges for a full gallon when it pumps only nine-tenths of a gallon into your car’s tank.” Hendricks claims that the over billing and “phantom” data usage were discovered and confirmed by an “independent consulting firm retained by plaintiff’s counsel, which conducted a two-month study of AT&T’s billion practices for data usage.” The firm “found that AT&T systematically overstate web server traffic by 7 percent to 14 percent, and in some instances by over 300 percent.” While the complaint admits that the overcharges “have a modest effect on an individual customer’s bill, they have a huge effect on AT&T’s bottom line,” citing fourth quarter 2010 wireless data revenue of $4.9 billion. Hendricks is seeking restitution and class damages for money received, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, unfair and fraudulent business practices, unfair competition, and violations of the federal Communications Act.
Apple’s iPad accounted for 75 percent of the global tablet market in the fourth quarter of 2010, down from 96 percent in the prior quarter, according to a new report. Citing market researcher Strategy Analytics, Bloomberg reports that while iPad shipments jumped 74 percent compared to the previous quarter, to 7.3 million, shipments of Android-based tablets—driven by sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab devices—went from 100,000 in the third quarter to 2.1 million units in the fourth, good for a 22 percent share of the market. “The Samsung Galaxy Tab was the main driver of Android success,” Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, wrote in the report. “Tablet makers like Android because of its perceived low cost and an accompanying range of compelling media services such as YouTube and Google Maps.” Apple is expected to face increasing competition in the tablet market this year, as rivals such as Motorola, HP, RIM, Samsung, and Acer are all expected to launch tablet devices in the first half of 2011.
Update: Samsung has clarified its sales numbers for the Galaxy Tab, saying that the two million unit figure it reported last week was actually the number of devices it shipped to wireless companies and retailers. According to the Wall Street journal, Samsung executive Lee Young-hee went as far as to say that actual sales to consumers were “quite small,” which would obviously have an effect on the figures provided by Strategy Analytics.
Apple has officially launched the iPad in the United Arab Emirates. According to the Twitter account of Apple Premium Reseller iStyle, Wi-Fi only iPads will be priced from AED2,199 (roughly $599) for the 16GB model to AED3,099 (~$844) for 64GB units, while 3G models will run from AED2,799 (~$762) for the 16GB version to AED3,699 (~$1,007) for the 64GB model. iStyle also notes that it will only be offering 3G units, and it is up to customers to choose a carrier and data plan. This marks the second iPad rollout of the day; it was previously revealed that Apple would also be launching the iPad in India today.
Chillingo has released Infinity Field, a new dual-stick shooter game for the iPad. Infinity Field puts players in a spaceship that they must navigate through a field of enemies, guiding their craft with with one analogue stick while blasting enemies out of their way. Players collect power-ups as they move around the playing field that improve their simple cannon into more powerful weapons such as omnidirectional bullets, lasers and bombs. The game provides six simple survival modes plus a full campaign mode with challenging bosses and a competitive multiplayer option. Crystal and Game Center support is included for rankings and achievements. Infinity Field is available from the App Store for $2.
Reporting its fourth quarter financial results, AT&T has revealed that it activated 4.1 million iPhones during the quarter. Notably, this was AT&T’s final full quarter as exclusive wireless carrier for the iPhone in the United States; its 4.1 million iPhone activations helped it towards a record net gain of 2.8 million wireless subscribers. In addition, the company announced that added 442,000 iPad and Android-based tablets to its network, with more than 90 percent of those being booked to the prepaid category. Notably, the iPad 3G receives data service from AT&T on a prepaid basis, suggesting that a large number of the tablet additions were for iPad.
In its fourth-quarter letter to shareholders and financial results release (PDF Link), Netflix has revealed that the Apple TV has surpassed the iPad in viewing hours, despite having sold far fewer units. Noting that the devices with the largest installed bases—including Windows and Mac laptops, the Sony PS3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and the Nintendo Wii—are the most popular devices for streaming Netflix, the release states that the “AppleTV has done very well for us, and in just four months has passed the also-growing iPad in Netflix viewing hours.” Apple sold its one-millionth Apple TV the week of December 25th, while cumulative iPads sales as of the same date were 14.79 million.