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Early iPad review tidbits: Free eBook, app opening, more

  • April 1, 2010
  • iPad,

The first reviews of the iPad are in from Apple’s hand-picked group of technology columnists, and while they mostly skim over the device’s features in a manner that leaves plenty to be discovered, several of the reviews contain tiny nuggets of new information.

British comedian and writer Stephen Fry claims in his piece for Time that the book Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, shown in Apple’s promotional materials for the iPad, will be “bundled with every iPad;” given that the iBooks reader application is not pre-installed on the iPad, it is unclear whether the title will actually be pre-loaded onto the device itself, accessible for free only after downloading the iBooks app from the App Store, or whether it will be included in the iBooks download package as a full sample book.

Andy Ihnatko, in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, states that the iPad allows applications to inform the OS of what types of files they handle, such that if an email attachment is received and the user attempts to open it, an “Open In…” button appears, providing a list of apps that can work with the given file type.

Other reviews, published by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, PC Magazine, and Boing Boing offer comparatively little in the way of new information about the iPad apart from the reviewers’ own opinions and experiences, which predictably reflect tremendous exuberance with only modest caveats. The most notable new information they collectively contain is a range of runtime results suggesting that the iPad generally outperforms Apple’s 10-hour promised battery life by as much as an hour and a half, but may fall half an hour short of the claim.

Kleiner Perkins doubles iFund to $200 million

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) has announced that it is doubling its iFund to $200 million of venture capital for iPhone apps. Originally announced in March 2008, the iFund is pool of funds designed to help KPCB find and back budding iPhone developers. According to the company, the entire original $100 million iFind is now fully committed across 14 companies, accounting for more than $100 million in 2010 mobile revenue, more than 100 million aggregate mobile downloads, and 18 titles that reached the Top 10 on the App Store. In addition, iFund-supported companies have more than 20 applications in development for the iPad, 11 of which will be available on April 3: seven games from ngmoco including We Rule, GodFinger and WarpGate, Doodle Buddy and Star Smash from Pinger, textPlus from GOGII, and Shazam from Shazam Entertainment.

Apple releases iTunes 9.1 with iPad support (Updated)

Apple has released iTunes 9.1, the latest update to its digital media management software. As previously reported, the update brings compatibility with the iPad, as well as the ability to “organize and sync books you’ve downloaded from iBooks on iPad or added to your iTunes library,” and the ability to “rename, rearrange, or remove Genius Mixes.” iTunes 9.1 is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility and as direct download from itunes.com.

Update: Upon installation, iLounge has confirmed that iTunes 9.1 references what appears to be an iPad-optimized version of its Remote application; it is possible, but unlikely, that this is simply to account for iPads running the current iPhone and iPod touch build of the app. The new version of iTunes is also able to import free ePub books, which now appear with Audiobooks and purchased books in a “Books” heading within the iTunes Library, which is then subdivided to count the number of titles in audio and book formats separately. Users are able to manually add cover art to ePub titles as they can with music albums, and the info window for books offers a VoiceOver pane where users can set the VoiceOver language on a per-title basis.

Elan files complaint against Apple with ITC

Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics has filed a patent infringement complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The AFP reports that the complaint alleges that Apple is violating Elan’s patents related to touch-sensitive input devices with multi-touch capabilities, specifically with the iPhone, iPod touch, MacBook laptops, the Magic Mouse, and the iPad. “We have taken the step of filing the ITC complaint as a continuation of our efforts to enforce our patent rights against Apple’s ongoing infringement,” Elan said in a statement. “A proceeding in the ITC offers a quick and effective way for Elan to enforce its patent.” Elan requesting that the ITC bar Apple from importing the products into the United States, and prevent it from selling any of the products in the United States that it has already imported. Elan filed a lawsuit against Apple in April of 2009 over the same alleged infringement. [via MDN]

Apple releases iPhone SDK 3.2 GM Seed for iPad

Apple has released its GM, or Gold Master, version of the iPhone SDK 3.2 for iPad. According to an email sent out to registered iPhone developers, all iPad apps submitted going forward must be built and tested using this release. The email reads, “[a]ll members of the iPhone Developer Program can submit their iPad apps to iTunes Connect for review and approval. If you did not submit your app during the initial review period, but upload it by March 31, it will be reviewed but may not make the grand opening of the iPad App Store.” Apple’s “initial review period” began on March 19 and ended March 27; applications submitted during that timeframe are eligible for the grand opening, but must be re-submitted using this latest SDK release for final approval. The iPhone OS SDK 3.2 GM for iPad is available now to registered iPhone developers through the iPhone Dev Center.

iPad software licensing agreement points to paid upgrades

According to the iPad end-user software licensing agreement posted online, iPad users will receive free software updates from Apple, up to and including the first major release, and then have to pay for upgrades afterwards. This particular portion of the agreement, published online by Mac Rumors, states: “Apple will provide you any iPad OS software updates that it may release from time to time, up to and including the next major iPad OS software release following the version of iPad OS software that originally shipped from Apple on your iPad, for free. For example, if your iPad originally shipped with iPad 3.x software, Apple would provide you with any iPad OS software updates it might release up to and including the iPad 4.x software release. Such updates and releases may not necessarily include all of the new software features that Apple releases for newer iPad models.” Currently, iPhone owners are provided free software updates for at least the first two years of the device’s life, while iPod touch owners are normally charged for major updates. New iPhones and iPod touch units, however, have typically debuted with either a new or very recent version of iPhone OS installed, whereas the iPad will ship with the nine-month old iPhone OS 3.x software, with the possibility of iPhone OS 4.0 being released later this year.

MobileAge previews Shanghai Mahjong for iPad

MobileAge has released a preview of the iPad version of its popular Shanghai Mahjong for the iPhone and iPod touch. Shanghai Mahjong for iPad will provide new iPad-optimized artwork and 200 new layouts for expanded game play. Users will also be able to download additional custom-designed tileset art and background images from within the app or choose a background from the iPad photo album. The company plans to release the iPad version as a universal app that will run on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The iPad version will be available as a free update for existing Shanghai Mahjong users. More information and screenshots can be found at the developer’s web site.

Apple posts iPad Guided Tours

Apple has posted a number of iPad Guided Tour videos on its website. Each one is several minutes long, and explains how to use one of the device’s applications. Individual tours are available for Safari, Mail, Photos, Videos, YouTube, iPod, iTunes, iBooks, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. Apple’s iPad Guided Tour videos are available for viewing now on the company’s website.

iTunes 9.1 to include iPad support, other enhancements

iTunes 9.1 will arrive alongside the iPad on Saturday, bringing with it a number of changes, many related to the new features of the latest iTunes-connecting device, Mac Rumors reports. Most notably, iTunes 9.1 will offer support for ebook files, and will see the “Audiobooks” listing on the iTunes Store and in the content management interface for connected devices changed to a broader “Books” section that will display all book content compatible with the currently connected device. Other changes will include greater control over Genius Mixes, including the ability to rename, rearrange, and delete Mixes, slight changes to device support, including small interface tweaks to the summary panes, and expansion of the ability to automatically convert songs to 128 kbps AAC format when syncing to devices.

Apple Stores to open at 9 a.m. for iPad launch

Apple today announced that it will be opening all 221 of its U.S. retail stores at 9 a.m. local time on Saturday for the iPad launch. In addition to Apple retail stores, the company notes that the device will also be available at “most” Best Buy stores on launch day. Apple’s retail stores will offer a free Personal Setup service to every iPad customer, and will also be hosting special iPad workshops to help customers learn more about the device. While the iPad will initially only be available from Apple—both online and retail—and retail Best Buy stores, the device will eventually be sold at select Apple Authorized Resellers and campus bookstores, as well. “iPad connects users with their apps and content in a far more intimate and fun way than ever before,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait for users to get their hands and fingers on it this weekend.”

Apple receives iPad trademark from Fujitsu

Fujitsu has transferred the rights to the iPad trademark in the U.S. to Apple ahead of the device’s launch later this week. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Fujitsu agreed last week to assign all rights to the iPad name to Apple beginning on March 17. Fujitsu had originally registered the iPad name in 2003 in connection to a handheld scanner launched by its U.S. subsidiary the year before that was used by retail store clerks for inventory management and other business activities. Details of the agreement between the two companies are not known, however, Fujitsu appears to have changed its stance on the matter since the iPad unveiling; a company representative said the day after Apple’s iPad event that “It’s our understanding that the name is ours,” adding that “mobile is a keyword for Fujitsu’s iPad, too.”

Filemaker announces Bento for iPad

Filemaker has announced that it will be launching a version of its popular consumer database application, Bento, for the iPad. Similar in concept to the Bento for iPhone app released last spring, the iPad version of Bento can be used as a standalone app or sync via Wi-Fi with the Mac version of Bento. The new version has been redesigned to take advantage of the larger screen size and UI features offered by the iPad to provide smoother database navigation and a visually appealing presentation of data. The app will ship with a number of database templates to allow users to quickly get started and is expected to be sold as a separate app for the same $5 price tag as the iPhone version. [via Mac Rumors]

New iPad pre-orders pushed to April 12, reservations closed

Apple has updated its website to indicate that all new iPad pre-orders will ship on April 12, and has also removed the option of reserving an iPad for in-store pickup on April 3, suggesting the company has sold through its initial allotment of iPad units. Those who pre-ordered earlier and received an e-mail stating that their iPad would arrive on April 3rd should still receive their units on launch day. Although Apple has closed iPad reservations for pickup at an Apple retail store on April 3rd, it remains unclear as to whether the company will have any extra stock on hand to sell to customers who didn’t make a reservation, as the company’s iPad page currently states that customers can “buy iPad at [their] favorite Apple Retail Store starting April 3.” All Wi-Fi + 3G models of iPad are still listed as shipping in “late April.”

Best Buy readies for iPad launch

  • March 26, 2010
  • iPad,

Electronics retailer Best Buy has begun preparations for the launch of the iPad on April 3rd, according to a Mac Rumors report. Citing unnamed sources, the report states that the iPad will initially be offered only at Best Buy locations with a dedicated Apple “store-within-a-store” — approximately 675 of the company’s 1,000-plus locations — and will not be available at bestbuy.com. No early openings are planned, according to the report, as the company sees little benefit due to a lack of sales competition. Display materials are reportedly expected to arrive at participating stores early next week, with a single iMac and two laptop demo units expected to be displaced to accomodate the iPad demo units. Interestingly, the report also indicates that four separate iPad SKUs will be on display, suggesting that Best Buy stores will have at least one Wi-Fi + 3G model on display. [Photo via chriscoyier]

Apple job listing calls for LTE expert

A new Apple job listing suggests the company is planning to include Long Term Evolution (LTE) “4G” cellular radio technology in future devices, such as the iPhone and possibly iPad. The listing for a “Cellular Technology Software Manager” calls for “[e]xpert knowledge of one or multiple cellular technologies: WCDMA/UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, LTE etc.” Applicants must also “understand the development cycle of phone, IOT, and certification process and carrier approval process.” Both AT&T and Verizon have announced plans to move to LTE networks over the coming years, with Verizon expected to begin its rollout later this year and AT&T expected to begin deployment in 2011. [via Engadget]

iBookstore to include free Project Gutenberg titles?

Following a report from yesterday indicating that the iBookstore would offer most titles on The New York Times best sellers list for $9.99, App Advice is now reporting that the iBookstore will also feature a vast number of free titles from Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is a volunteer organization that digitizes and catalogs books which have seen their U.S. copyright expire; the Gutenberg website claims to offer over 30,000 ebook titles for free. The report is accompanied by a supposed screenshot of the iBookstore interface, showing several free titles, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, both of which are available through Project Gutenberg; the report also notes that while the number of free titles wasn’t counted, it appears the entirety of Gutenberg’s catalog is available. It was previously revealed that the iPad’s iBooks applicaiton would support non-DRM ePub books not downloaded from the iBookstore, however, this is the first evidence of Apple actually offering these books for direct download.

Apple inks deal with Samsung for 3m iPad displays

Apple has reached a deal with Samsung to supply three million 9.7-inch display panels for use in the iPad. According to a Korea Times report, the deal is expected to be worth $240 million. “Samsung Electronics has won a contract worth $240 million from Apple to supply 3 million LCD panels used in the iPads,” said a high-ranking industry representative. “The most expensive component in the iPad is the display and touch-screen interface that costs $80 for all models. The 9.7-inch display is more than twice the size of the iPhone 3GS screen and costs five times as much.” The report cites a separate executive from Samsung Mobile Display, who says Apple is also placing orders with the company for displays to be used in the fourth-generation iPhone. “As far as I know, Apple will use the LCD panels for its next iPhone models. We are receiving related orders from Apple,” said the executive. Apple’s iPad, which launches April 3, uses a display technology called in-plane switching (IPS) to deliver more consistent color and wider viewing angles than those offered by more conventional LCD displays. [via AppleInsider]

CBS to offer iPad-compatible online video

  • March 25, 2010
  • iPad,

CBS appears to be preparing to offer iPad-compatible HTML5-based video playback on its CBS.com website. Mac Rumors reports that “iPad - test” video links began to appear on the website, and clicking on these links from within the iPad Simulator—or in a browser that has its User-Agent set to identify itself as an iPad—lead to a different, non-Flash version of the video presented to standard desktop browsers. While the report claims that the videos themselves aren’t yet working, and are prominently labeled “test” in the text, the CSS files reference HTML5 and sport a number of webkit specific calls. Webkit is the browser engine used by the iPad’s Safari browser; the report states that “fullscreen mode” is working on the iPad Simulator. Apple CEO Steve Jobs reportedly said during a January meeting with Apple employees that few developers would be using Flash going forward as the online community focuses on HTML5 development.

U.S. Army visits Apple to discuss iPhone, more

Several members of the U.S. Army’s technology command recently visited Apple headquarters to discuss the use of Apple products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, in Army business and battlefield operations. Army.mil reports that Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, Research, Development and Engineering Command commanding general and key members of his staff traveled to Apple’s Cupertino, CA headquarters on March 5, touring the company’s facilities and discussing current military use of Apple products. “The Army is moving away from big-green-box solutions and toward those that will adapt along with our warfighters on the battlefield,” Justice said. “We’re continuing to leverage commercial technology for battlefield uses; we can’t ignore that kind of existing knowledge. Our job, as stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar, is to adopt and adapt appropriate commercial technology and offer the best possible solution to the warfighter.”

Currently, the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center (CERDEC) is helping to develop and transition two iPhone applications, one used to collect information on counter-insurgency, and the other offering a combined planning and social networking environment. “Apple technologies offer unique and proven solutions with intuitive designs that allow users to learn quickly without a training manual,” said Ron Szymanski, CERDEC’s lead computer scientist on the project. “The Army would like to leverage Apple’s experience when designing military applications.”

Apple to match Amazon on best-seller pricing?

Apple may be planning to match Amazon’s $9.99 pricing on books featured in the New York Time’s Best Sellers lists, according to a new report. Citing a first-hand preview of the iBookstore, App Advice reports that 27 of the 32 books featured in the NYT Best Seller section were priced at $9.99, matching the pricing of Amazon.com’s Kindle bookstore. Notably, the number four best seller was missing from the list entirely, perhaps because Apple has not yet secured a deal with the book’s publisher; among the titles not priced at $9.99, the most expensive was $12.99. In addition, one book—The Help by Kathryn Stockett—was also featured on the screen during Apple’s iPad special event, and at that time was listed at $7.99, while most of the other titles were priced at $10.99 or higher. Curiously, the report closely follows a separate article citing pricing concerns as the reason why Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, has yet to sign a deal with Apple to offer its titles on the iBookstore.

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