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Apple receives patent for multipoint touchscreen

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Apple has been awarded a patent for a multipoint touchscreen. U.S. Patent No. 7,663,607, entitled “Multipoint Touchscreen,” more specifically covers a larger, two-hand touchscreen, or as mentioned in the patent itself, a “tablet PC.” The patent’s summary descibes a transparent capacitive sensing surface that can sense multiple simultaneous touches and at distinct locations, similar to the technology seen in the recent announced iPad. This allows the computer to react to the multiple touches at once, allowing for more advanced interation than possible on a single-touch sensing surface. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Patently Apple]

Periodical publishers ‘need’ customer data from Apple

A number of newspaper and magazine publishers are expressing concerns over potential deals with Apple due to fears that the company will not be as forthcoming with customer data as the publications would like. The Financial Times reports that Apple’s history of sharing little customer data beyond sales volume information could prove to be a “deal breaker,” said one senior media executive in discussions with Apple. “We have for many years relied on subscriptions to be able to communicate with our readers,” Sara Öhrvall, senior vice-president of research at Swedish publisher Bonnier, told FT. “It is absolutely crucial to keep the data. That’s something that our advertisers need. It is something that we need.” Also a concern is the ability to identify current print subscribers to offer them discounts or free access to digital versions. Customers “will be really upset if we try to charge [them] again,” Ms Öhrvall said. Regardless of the device, she added that “it’s a deal killer.”

Publishers are also said to be wary of Apple’s revenue model, which would see the publisher paid 70 percent of the selling price, with Apple keeping the rest. While the plan makes sense for books, publishers said, it makes less sense for recurring charges like subscriptions, adding that giving away close to a third of subscription sales over an indefinite period of time would be hard to accept.

Apple planning to employ FairPlay DRM for iBookstore?

  • February 15, 2010
  • iPad,

Apple may be planning to use its FairPlay Digital Rights Management (DRM) software on iBookstore purchases. Citing sources in the publishing industry, the Los Angeles Times reports that Apple will use its proven DRM to protect book sales from the iBookstore, although some publishers, such as O’Reilly Media—which has spoken out against DRM on e-book sales—may choose to opt-out of FairPlay on its offerings. According to the report, O’Reilly is in negotiations with Apple offer its books on the iBookstore, which will be part of the new iBooks app expected to launch alongside the iPad. Apple originally developed FairPlay for use on the iTunes Music Store, but has since moved to selling all DRM-free music.

iPad anticipation driving app development

According to new data from application analysis service Flurry Analytics, the announcement of the iPad has led to a huge spike in iPhone development. Flurry saw over 1,600 new iPhone OS application starts in January, compared to under 600 in December. In addition, this spike in new iPhone OS applications has helped the iPhone gain in percentage of overall application project starts versus Android, which accounted for nearly 30% of new project starts in December, compared to under 20% in January. According to the company, “the recent spike in Apple iPad support has swung the pendulum back in Apple’s favor to a level not seen at Flurry in six months. The unprecedented surge in support for iPad is a positive early indicator for its commercial potential.” Flurry tracks over 20,000 live applications and over 2 billion user sessions each month, across the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and J2ME platforms. Apple is expected to launch its first iPad models in late March.

Wired to launch digital edition for iPad

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Wired Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson, speaking at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) 2010 conference, has revealed that the publication plans to release its content for the iPad by summer. “I’m from the media world,” Anderson said, “and as you may have heard, we have lots of questions about our future. The good news is I think we found part of the answer…. We think this is a game changer.” Anderson explained that the iPad allows periodicals for the first time to offer digital content with the same values and artistic range of print magazines. The new digital edition was demonstrated on a large touchscreen-capable display, and offered both single and two-up page views, depending on orientation, as well as a thumbnail view, and interactive media and advertisements. Interestingly, Wired’s creative director, Scott Dadich, worked with Jeremy Clark of Adobe to developer the iPad edition, a process which has been ongoing over the last six months. Pricing for the iPad edition of Wired was not announced.

Update: Wired has posted a video of the interface in-action online; it is available in embedded form below.

Interview magazine planning iPad-formatted issues

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Interview magazine, founded in 1969 by artist Andy Warhol and John Wilcock, has unveiled plans to launch new iPad-formatted versions of its issues. The Huffington Post reports that the company announced the new digital initiative at its 40th anniversary party; a video preview of the new iPad editions accompanies the article. Interview’s iPad editions will integrate photography and text with both audio and video features, and it will launch the 40th anniversary, December/January 2010, February 2010, and March 2010 issues simultaneously. The new iPad versions of Interview are expected to be available next month.

“When Andy Warhol founded Interview four decades ago, he did so with an ethos that embraced the new,” the magazine said in an announcement. “As with his art, Warhol re-wrote the rulebook with Interview, creating an innovative, intelligent, sophisticated, cutting-edge magazine that was culturally impactful, pushed the boundaries of the medium, and reinvented what a magazine could be. So it’s entirely fitting that Interview is once again at the forefront of reinventing the magazine experience for Apple’s iPad, combining the benefits of the digital age with the familiar advantages of Guttenberg’s printing press to deliver a groundbreaking, knock-out reader experience. One could call Interview magazine on the iPad ‘an affordable Warhol screenprint.’”

First iPhone OS 3.2 app appears on App Store

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Following Apple’s announcement of iPhone OS 3.2 in late January, the first application update boasting compatibility with the iPad-ready operating system has appeared on the App Store. The release of TextExpander 1.1.3 lists only “updates for iPhone OS 3.2” in its release notes, without citing additional features. Taking directions from Apple in new iPad Human Interface Guidelines, numerous developers are updating their applications to provide improved compatibility with the iPad upon its release, including higher-resolution graphics and in some cases entirely new user interfaces.

iBooks app to be optional on iPad

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According to text found on Apple’s iPad features page, the iBooks app for iPad will be an optional download from the App Store, instead of a pre-installed application. The iBooks application serves as a virtual library and reading application, and also offers access to Apple’s upcoming iBookstore for purchasing new e-books. “Download the free app from the App Store and buy everything from classics to best sellers from the built-in iBookstore,” the passage reads. Apple is expected to begin shipments of Wi-Fi only iPad models in late March or early April. [via Daring Fireball]

Apple to debut $1 SD TV shows alongside iPad?

Apple has been in talks with television networks to lower the price of SD television shows from $2 to $1, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the discussions, the Financial Times reports that Apple may be planning to debut the lower pricing alongside the launch of the iPad in late March or early April, and several television networks are said to have agreed to the lower prices after “months” of negotiations. According to the report, Apple is also continuing its push for a $30 per month “best of TV” subscription service, but has met with resistance from media companies fearful of destroying traditional distribution relationships. In addition, Apple executives have reportedly been careful not to link any new TV offerings to the Apple TV, as it is seen as a threat to traditional pay-TV services. Notably, the iPad’s 4:3 aspect ratio screen is technically a better fit for standard-definition media than high-definition shows and movies, which traditionally come in a 16:9—or wider—aspect ratio that leaves black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when viewed on the device.

iSuppli estimates low-end iPad component cost of $219

  • February 10, 2010
  • iPad,

New estimates from iSuppli suggest the 16GB, non-3G iPad carries a Bill of Materials (BOM) cost of just $219, with manufacturing costs estimated to be $10, bringing the total cost of the low-end machine to $229. According to the report, the mid-range version of the iPad, with 32GB of memory and 3G wireless capabilities, will carry a BOM of roughly $276, making it the most profitable member of the family on a percentage basis. iSuppli believes that the display and touchscreen interface costs $80 per unit, making it the most expensive component of the 16GB and 32GB models, and second only to the 64GB of NAND flash memory—estimated to cost $118—in the top-of-the-line model. Other component estimates include a cost of $17 for the A4 processor, $24.50 for wireless components, and $17.50 for the battery. Notably, iSuppli’s estimates are based on the cost of components expected to be used in the iPad, and not on an actual teardown of the device, nor do they include other expenses such as software, royalties, and licensing fees.

Disney CEO Iger: iPad could be a ‘game changer’

  • February 10, 2010
  • iPad,

Speaking during the company’s Q1 Fiscal Results Conference Call, Disney CEO Bob Iger made several comments about the iPad, including its potential to transform media content and possible Disney products that might appear on the device. When asked, “If you could give us more details on what you think ABC might be offering on the iPad and is this a step in the direction of retailing or wholesaling your cable and broadcast networks online, that would be helpful,” Iger began his response by saying that, “We find that the iPad has a lot of potential. We think it’s a really compelling device. We think it could be a game changer in terms of enabling us to create essentially new forms of content.”

He continued, “We’ve put in the marketplace a digi-books product through our Disney publishing group just recently. We were developing it primarily for the computer screen and we started developing it for iTunes, I should say for the iPhone/iTouch platform, and suddenly this device comes along and provides us with an even more robust technological platform that makes the interactivity that we were going to provide, things like read-alongs, simple animation, music, to just sort of come to life, and that’s just one example.” Iger went on to mention more specific potential iPad releases, saying that “When you think about ABC, you think about a program like `Lost’ and not just being able to watch the program, but all the other things that viewers like to do with that program. ABC News, another great example. ESPN ScoreCenter, which is a great app on the iPhone, and provides relatively rudimentary information, scores, basically, suddenly we have an opportunity with a platform where you can really make the scores come to life.” Iger was notably present at Apple’s iPad introduction event; Apple CEO Steve Jobs is currently Disney’s largest individual shareholder, with approximately 7% of the company’s stock, and is also on the company’s board of directors. [via MacDailyNews]

Apple releases iPhone SDK 3.2 Beta 2 for iPad

  • February 10, 2010
  • iPad,

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Apple has released the second beta version of its iPhone SDK 3.2 for iPad. Originally released on January 27 following the introduction of the iPad, the SDK is tailored specifically to the iPad, including support for the device’s 1024x768 resolution, other iPad-specific interface functions, and includes an iPad simulator application so developers can pre-test their apps in an environment similar to that of the final device. It is currently unclear if any major changes were made in the updated version. The iPhone OS 3.2 SDK beta 2 for iPad is available now to registered iPhone developers through the iPhone Dev Center.

Norwegian resellers halt iPad pre-sales due to high demand

  • February 9, 2010
  • iPad,

Resellers Apple House and Humac in Norway have been forced to close pre-sales of the iPad due to high demand. iPod1 reports (Translated Link) that despite the fact that neither pricing nor an official release date has been announced, Apple House has already received a four-digit number of advance orders, with the 64GB, 3G-enabled version being the most popular. Humac made a similar claim in its order-halting explanation, saying its seen “crazy interest” and will contact customers already in the queue as soon as it knows anything more. Apple has yet to begin offering pre-orders for the device in the U.S. [via @StefaanLesage]

Apple already considering iPad price reductions?

  • February 8, 2010
  • iPad,

Apple executives, speaking in a meeting with Credit Suisse analysts, have suggested that the company is already considering price reductions for its yet-to-be-released iPad tablet should early sales of the device fail to live up to internal expectations. Citing Credit Suisse analyst Bill Shope, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple wants the iPad to be the best device in several usage cases, including consuming media and browsing the Internet. Since other devices, including laptops and the iPhone or iPod touch, may be more appropriate to use under certain conditions, Shope indicates that cannibalization may be less of a concern than some believe. In addition, Shope said that Apple management indicated that it will remain nimble in terms of pricing, suggesting that the company could lower prices on the iPad if consumer response is lower than projected. Apple is expected to begin shipping Wi-Fi-only models of the iPad late next month.

Chinese maker of iPad clone vows to sue Apple

  • February 8, 2010
  • iPad,

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Shenzhen Great Long Brother Industrial Co., which produces the P88, a Windows-based, multi-touch tablet computer, is vowing to sue Apple for patent infringement as soon as the company launches the iPad in China. Claiming that the P88, which was announced last October, is “identical” to the iPad, Wu Xiaolong, president of Shenzhen Great Long Brother Industrial Co., said, “I was very angry and flabbergasted when I saw the news of the iPad presentation… It is certainly our design. They’ve stolen because we present our P88 to everyone six months ago at the IFA (International Electronics Fair in Berlin).” Wu went on to add that sales of the P88 in China would “definitely take a hit” should the iPad launch in China, and admitted that it would be difficult to take on Apple in the United States, but also said “if the iPad enters the Chinese market, we will sue them this spring.” While the P88 does share a slightly similar design, with a black front bezel surrounding a touch screen, the iP88 offers a variety of ports that the iPad does not, and overall more closely resembles the original iPhone than the iPad.

Hutchison Austria to offer iPad + 3G modem deal

  • February 8, 2010
  • iPad,

Hutchison Austria has announced plans to sell the Apple iPad for a discounted amount in a bundle with an i-Mo wireless Wi-Fi router. According to TamsIJungle, Berthold Thoma, CEO of Hutchison Austria, said the iPad would be offered at a discount of €333 (roughly $455) when purchased with a two-year contract for 5GB of data at €30 a month. Thoma said that since the first iPads sold in the country wouldn’t include 3G radios, the company was instead going to offer the Wi-Fi-only version with the i-Mo, which connects to the company’s 3G network and then uses that connection to create a Wi-Fi hotspot which the iPad can join. It is unknown exactly when Apple plans to launch the iPad in Austria, or whether Hutchison plans to offer a similar subsidy for customers who purchase a 3G-enabled iPad along with a data service contract. [via Engadget]

Apple CEO Jobs meets with NYT, WSJ, Time for iPad demos

Apple CEO Steve Jobs reportedly visited New York City in recent days, stopping by both the New York Times newsroom and the Wall Street Journal for personal demonstrations of the new iPad tablet. Gawker reports that Jobs’ NYT visit was strictly off-the-record, but a person who was present indicated that Jobs is preparing to sign up magazines and newspapers for distribution on the iPad, after focusing on books prior to the device’s unveiling. Little is known about Jobs’ visit with the Wall Street Journal, beyond the fact that he was reportedly confined to the office’s third floor, and did not meet with several interested staff members.

New York Magazine claims Jobs held another meeting with New York Times Company executives in the basement of Southern Asian restaurant Pranna, to which Jobs wore a “funny” hat. The report states that Jobs was seated next to NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger during the “intimate” event, and demonstrated the iPad and its functions while speaking about how it could shape the future of media. Finally, Fortune reports that Jobs also visited the Time & Life Building while in town to demonstrate the tablet to Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore and several select magazine editors.

FCC warns of iPad-led wireless network overload

  • February 5, 2010
  • iPad,

In a blog posting on the body’s official Broadband.gov site, the FCC’s Director of Scenario Planning Phil Bellaria, and John Leibovitz, Deputy Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, warn that the iPad and other future devices like it could lead to network congestion. Comparing the current situation in which data-hungry mobile devices are becoming increasingly common to the rise of Internet access demands in the late 1990s, particularly those faced by AOL after announcing unlimited dial-up access in 1996, Bellaria and Leibovitz note that “[w]idespread use of smartphones, 3G-enabled netbooks, and now, perhaps, the iPad and its competitors demonstrate that wireless broadband will be a hugely important part of the broadband ecosystem as we move ahead.” Continuing the comparison and noting that AOL was eventually able to resolve its problems with network and backbone upgrades, the pair conclude that “[w]ith the iPad pointing to even greater demand for mobile broadband on the horizon, we must ensure that network congestion doesn’t choke off a service that consumers clearly find so appealing or frustrate mobile broadband’s ability to keep us competitive in the global broadband economy.”

iPad interface guidelines provide glimpse at future apps

  • February 4, 2010
  • iPad,

Excepts from Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for the iPad have appeared online, offering a look into the company’s expectations for user interaction with iPad-specific applications. Notably, the guidelines call for four-way orientation support, so that users may turn the device in any direction and maintain a consistent experience, and ask that developers reduce full-screen transitions within apps. One particularly direct passage concerns enhancing interactivity instead of simply adding more features, and states, “The best iPad applications give people innovative ways to interact with content while they perform a clearly defined, finite task. Resist the temptation to fill the large screen with features that are not directly related to the main task. In particular, you should not view the large iPad screen as an invitation to bring back all the functionality you pruned from your iPhone application.” Other points made in the guidelines call for developers to include ways to share information from the app both physically and virtually, heightened realism within app interfaces, higher-resolution graphics, multifinger gestures, replacing modal tasks with popovers, and more. Apple’s iPad Human Interaction Guidelines are available as a download for registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.

Adobe CTO: Flash is ‘ready’ for iPhone, iPad

  • February 4, 2010
  • iPad,

In a lengthy blog post discussing the lack of Flash support on Apple’s portable devices, particularly the iPad, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch made several comments supporting the argument for Flash on Apple’s devices while giving examples of content iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users will be unable to access without Flash support. “Some have been surprised at the lack of inclusion of Flash Player on a recent magical device,” Lynch writes. “Flash has been incredibly successful in its adoption, with over 85% of the top web sites containing Flash content and Flash running on over 98% of computers on the Web… It is used for the majority of casual games, video, and animation on the Web and familiar brands like Nike, Hulu, BBC, Major League Baseball, and more rely on Flash to deliver the most compelling experiences to over a billion people.”

Discussing Flash on mobile devices, he continues, saying, “[t]he Flash engineering team has taken this on with a major overhaul of the mainstream Flash Player for a variety of devices. We are now on the verge of delivering Flash Player 10.1 for smartphones with all but one of the top manufacturers. This includes Google’s Android, RIM’s Blackberry, Nokia, Palm Pre and many others across form factors including not only smartphones but also tablets, netbooks, and internet-connected TVs.” Finally, Lynch claims that Adobe is “ready to enable Flash in the browser on [Apple’s] devices if and when Apple chooses to allow that for its users, but to date we have not had the required cooperation from Apple to make this happen.” The post has drawn a large number of comments from readers, many of which are critical of Flash and Adobe as a company. Lynch’s post follows comments reportedly made by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at a corporate town hall event last week, at which Jobs is said to have called Adobe lazy, claiming that Flash is buggy, and adding that no one will be using it going forward as online development shifts to HTML5.

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