Applidium has released its iPad port of the very popular open-source VLC media player application for desktop operating systems. The iPad version of VLC includes all of the same built-in codecs present on other platforms, supporting playback of almost any video format that can be found on the Internet, including support for a variety of streaming video formats. The iPad version continues to be part of the VLC OpenSource project with the iPad-specific patches and extensions forming part of the main VLC development tree. Applidium also indicates that a version of VLC for the iPhone and iPod touch is in the works but has not yet announced an expected release date. VLC Media Player is available from the App Store as a free download.
Though Apple has not officially enabled Retina Display emulation on the iPad, certain recent iPhone and iPod touch applications have started to display artwork in higher resolutions on the iPad screen, iLounge has discovered. Normally, iPhone and iPod touch applications run on the iPad in an emulation mode limited to the native 320x480 resolutions of Apple’s prior-generation screens. Users can optionally hit a “2X” button that merely increases the size of each dot from 1x1 to 2x2, resulting in pixellated images. Applications designed for the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4G have fared no better, still presenting the lower-resolution graphics designed for the older models.
Recently, however, some new applications are displaying higher-resolution assets when rendered in the iPad 2X mode. The most notable example is Napster, an iPod touch- and iPhone-formatted application without a native iPad mode. Although most of the user interface elements in the Napster app are clearly being scaled up when seen in 2X mode on the iPad, the album artwork is clearly being displayed at a higher iPad-native resolution. iLounge editors have observed several other recent iPhone and iPod touch apps showing similar behaviors, whereby some—not all—assets are being rendered in higher resolution when displayed on the iPad in 2X mode. It is unclear at this time whether developers have found some way to provide this capability or whether it is a function of compiling applications with the recently released iOS 4.1 SDK, but it is a positive sign that the iPad’s seemingly limited iPhone and iPod touch emulator is capable of more than it previously demonstrated.
Resolution Interactive has released an update to Aqua Moto Racing 2 adding support for the iPad and Retina Display graphics for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. Released earlier this summer Aqua Moto Racing 2 (iLounge rating: B+) is a first-person water racing game that allows players to race one of 12 unique JetSkis in a variety of exotic locations across 48 different courses. Players can perform insane stunts and earn cash by participating in races and winning Championships and can then use that cash to upgrade their JetSkis. OpenFeint integration provides leaderboards, challenges and tracking of achievements. The new version also provides improved opponent difficulty, the ability to disable OpenFeint popups and minor bug fixes. Aqua Moto Racing 2 is currently available from the App Store as a universal app for $1.
Apple is currently developing a digital newsstand for the iPad that would offer digital magazines and newspapers, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that the newsstand would be similar to the iBookstore, and would be separate from the App Store. The report says that the effort is aimed at helping publishers sell subscriptions, as opposed to single issues, and may also draw new customers to the iPad. Talks between Apple and publishers including Time Warner, Conde Nast, Hearst Corp., and News Corp. are said to be ongoing, with control over subscriber data, revenue splits, and pricing issues yet to be decided.
As part of the larger effort, Apple is said to be developing new software to make it easier for publishers to create digital versions of magazines and newspapers, with special emphasis placed on adding interactive content such as high-definition video, and is also working on server technology that would allow the publications to be updated in the background. Curiously, Apple in February forced iOS developer omz:software to change the name of its Newsstand RSS reader application due to what it said was a trademark complaint and later added a “Newsstand” section to the App Store highlighting a variety of publications and reading applications.
Apple is now offering a number of refurbished iPad units via its online store. Currently, refurbished units are limited to Wi-Fi-only models, and offer a $50 discount over the retail price of the respective new-in-box units. This marks the first time that Apple has offered refurbished models of its tablet computer since the iPad’s launch in April; it is unclear whether it plans to offer refurbished iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G units at a later date.
AirPlay, Apple’s revamped version of AirTunes meant for streaming audio, video, and photos to compatible devices, may also allow for streaming of content from third-party applications, according to a new report. Citing testing done by a reader using the first iOS 4.2 beta, Mac Rumors reports that every application that uses the standard iOS audio/video playback interface now shows an AirPlay button for streaming. While the second-generation Apple TV, the only AirPlay device announced so far to accept video and photo streams in addition to audio, has yet to be released, a reader was successfully able to stream audio to an Airport Express from the following applications: Safari, YouTube, Netflix, Videos, iPod, BBC News, and MLB At Bat, suggesting that third-party apps may be able to stream video as well as audio to compatible devices. Notably, the software is still in beta, and as such the feature could be removed and/or tweaked prior to iOS 4.2’s public release.
Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn has said that the iPad is eating into sales of traditional laptop PCs. Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Dunn said that internal estimates showed the iPad had cannibalized sales of laptop PCs by as much as 50%. “It’s a very different environment now,” said Stephen Baker, chief electronics analyst for the NPD Group. “The real cool stuff now will be the tablets, e-readers and probably the higher-end digital cameras.” A separate analyst said the iPad may also be contributing to declining TV sales, which fell by “low-double digit[s]” year-over-year, according to Dunn. “It has become largely a replacement market,” said Riddhi Patel of iSuppli. “New features are not driving sales in a significant way. People are saying, ‘I could buy a television or something totally new like an iPad that I don’t already own.’” Best Buy announced earlier this week that it would expand sales of the iPad to include all 1,093 stores by September 26.
A number of new features and improvements have been discovered in the first beta version of iOS 4.2. AppleInsider reports that the software features an updated YouTube application with like and dislike buttons, as well as support for the CoreMIDI framework, which could enable iOS devices to interface with MIDI instruments via an adapter. Also new in 4.2 are restrictions allowing users to prevent the deletion of App Store applications and prevent changes to accounts in the Mail application, iTunes links in the iPad’s Videos app, and a dedicated FaceTime button at the top of all messaging sessions. Apple is expected to release iOS 4.2 in November.
In addition to China, Apple has announced (Translated Link) that it will launch the iPad in five Latin American countries — Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru — on Friday, September 17. According to the company’s press release, both the iPad Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G will be available from select Apple Authorized Resellers; users in those regions are encouraged to visit http://latam.apple.com/la/buy/ to find a nearby iPad reseller. [via MDN]
Apple has made a change in the behavior of the iPad’s hardware under iOS 4.2, repurposing the device’s right-side orientation lock switch as a mute/unmute switch. Users of the updated software can now lock the device’s screen orientation via a software button in the far left pane of the Multitasking drawer, where it sits alongside audio playback controls and a brightness adjustment slider, similar to the layout of options in iOS 4.0 and 4.1 for the iPhone and iPod touch. Notably, the feature change is present in the first beta version of iOS 4.2, but could be reversed by the time of the update’s public release. Apple originally touted the iPad’s right side switch as a mute/unmute toggle, but changed its functionality to a screen orientation lock prior to the device’s release.
Apple today announced that it is releasing a beta version of AirPrint wireless printing for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch to members of its iOS Developer Program, and that the new feature will be part of iOS 4.2 when it is released publicly in November. AirPrint automatically finds printers on local networks that can print text, photos, and graphics wirelessly over Wi-Fi without the need for additional drivers or software. Supported printers include HP Photosmart, Officejet, Officejet Pro and LaserJet Pro series ePrint models, as well as printers shared through a Mac or a PC. Notably, Apple claims that printing will only be supported on iOS devices that support multitasking, yet lists the second-generation iPod touch as compatible, while omitting the iPhone 3G.
“AirPrint is Apple’s powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS—no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users can simply tap to print their documents or photos wirelessly to an HP ePrint printer or to a printer shared on a Mac or PC.”
“We’re pleased to work with Apple to bring Apple’s AirPrint to our fall lineup of ePrint printers in time for the holiday shopping season,” said Vyomesh Joshi, HP executive vice president, Imaging and Printing Group. “Making it easy for our customers to print anytime, anywhere, is a key priority for HP. iPad, iPhone and iPod touch customers are going to love how easy it is to print using our new range of ePrint printers, creating high-quality printed pages in an instant.”
Apple has released its first beta version of iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Announced by Apple earlier this month and slated for a November release, iOS 4.2 will bring several new features to Apple’s mobile device OS, including AirPlay streaming, AirPrint wireless printing, and the ability to import .ics files directly into Calendar as new events, and will bring the iPad’s software feature set into parity with the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s iOS 4.2 Beta for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is available now as a free download for paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple is preparing to announce a new subscription plan for newspapers, according to a new report. Citing unnamed industry sources, the San Jose Mercury News reports that Apple has agreed to provide an opt-in for subscribers that will allow Apple to share their information with the newspaper’s publishers, providing the publishers with data essential to attracting advertisers. Publishers “want the data of their customers so they can integrate it into their circulation database so they know who their customers are,” said Roger Fidler, head of digital publishing at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. Fidler also suggested that Apple will take a 30 percent cut of subscriptions sold through the App Store, and as much a 40 percent of advertising revenue from within the apps. Fidler also said that publishers wanted to pay Apple a straight fee instead of sharing revenue, and are less than happy with Apple’s terms. Apple recently enabled magazine publishers to offer iPad versions of their publications to print subscribers free of charge; if accurate, the report suggests the company is taking a different approach when it comes to newspapers.
iOS developer Kevin Ng has released results from an experiment he conducted with his app Kick Flick 2010. Early last month, Ng released a free update to the iPhone and iPod touch version of his app adding support for both the iPad and the iPhone 4 Retina Display, bundling this into a single $1 application rather than following the approach of other game developers in releasing a separate premium “HD” version of the game. In reviewing the past month of sales results, Ng believes that the figures make a “compelling argument” for iPhone developers to include iPad support for free in existing apps rather than charging customers twice for the same product.
Ng constructed a graph of sales starting with its initial release in July, noting that additional purchases following the update almost matched the launch spike. Two weeks after its initial launch, Apple chose to feature the game in the iPad section of the App Store, leading to an even larger surge. Ng believes that providing support for both iPhone and iPad in the same, inexpensive app resulted in the application getting better exposure by being noticed and featured by Apple and by hitting top application charts in both the iPhone and iPad sections of the App Store. Ng notes that since the iPad and iPhone versions are the same product in the App Store, sales on either platform contribute toward the sales rankings in both sections. From this experience, Ng concludes that it makes sense for developers to add iPad support to their existing apps rather than charging extra and feels that this situation is “Win-win for the developer and the customer.”
Best Buy has announced that as of September 26, it will offer the iPad in all of its 1,000+ stores in the U.S. The announcement represents a significant jump in distribution from the roughly 673 Best Buy stores that have carried the device since its launch in April. In total, 1,093 Best Buy stores will be offering both the iPad Wi-Fi and the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G both in store and online (for in-store pick-up). A recent report suggested that Target may begin carrying the device on October 3, perhaps signaling a move by Apple to expand distribution of the device heading into the holiday shopping season.
Apple has posted a new “iPad in Business” page to its website, featuring four profiles of businesses that have integrated the iPad into their workflows. Most notable among the businesses is Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, which is using iPads to facilitate check-ins at its boutique Andaz hotels, developing iPad-accessible apps for hotel services, and has a large number of executives using iPads when traveling in lieu of laptops. “I don’t carry my diary anymore,” said Harmit Singh, Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s Chief Financial Officer. “I don’t carry a calculator. I used to subscribe to all the journals: the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times. That’s all disappeared. It’s all on iPad.” Less prominent on the page are links to profiles of rehabilitation service RehabCare, dentist Dr. Jonathan Ferencz, and the humanitarian organization charity: water.
MediaMall Technologies has announced a free update to its PlayOn Premium software enabling media streaming to the iPad over a 3G or Wi-Fi connection. PlayOn is a Windows application designed to place-shift online video content from users’ PCs to various home entertainment and mobile devices including the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and iPhone. The most recent update adds the ability for iPad users to stream video content from providers such as Hulu, Netflix, CBS, MTV and more via the PlayOn media server running on their home PC. Content is streamed directly to the Safari browser using HTML5 and can be accessed from anywhere that a 3G or Wi-Fi Internet connection is available.
Existing PlayOn Premium subscribers can download the update to their PC and begin streaming video to their iPad right away; new users can sign up for a free 14-day trial after which a subscription is required to continue using the service. Subscriptions are priced at $40 for the first year and $20 per year thereafter, with a lifetime license available for $80. The PlayOn software requires Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or later with Internet Explorer 7 and an Internet broadband connection of at least 1.5 Mbps. A free trial of the software can be downloaded from http://www.PlayOn.tv.
CBS News has launched an official CBS News app for the iPad. The new app delivers the latest news stories and video and photo galleries from the complete roster of CBS News broadcasts, including videos from The Early Show, 48 Hours Mystery, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Sunday Morning, Face The Nation and Up to the Minute. The app also provides access to webcasts and blogs from CBSNews.com including @KatieCouric, Washington Unplugged, Political Hotsheet, Crimesider and Celebrity Circuit. Developed by CBS Mobile, the app delivers full-video episodes over both Wi-Fi and 3G networks and allows users to quickly select and watch video content or read full articles. Content is presented in a format appropriate for the iPad orientation, with portrait mode providing a graphical experience with thumbnail images and videos while landscape mode provides a more text-specific view to browse through headlines. Users can quickly access the day’s top headlines or browse and search through a variety of news categories with timelines of the latest articles and videos and links from each story to other related content. The app also provides access to weather information and forecasts powered by AccuWeather, stock market lookups through CBS MoneyWatch, a dedicated Shows section for viewing specific CBS News shows and social media integration to e-mail stores or share links on Twitter and Facebook. CBS News for iPad is available as a free download from the U.S. App Store.
Target may be planning to roll out the iPad in its retail stores beginning October 3, according to a new report. Engadget, citing images of what is supposedly a Target PDA, reports that the store’s product management system now has a listing for an unknown product that comes in six versions, matches the iPad’s six price points, and is to be located in the Digital Audio section, which is also home to the iPod and various e-readers, including the Amazon Kindle. The images from Target’s system indicate the product will become available in October 3, the timing of which would give Apple a significant boost in terms of iPad distribution heading into the holiday shopping season.
Apple has announced that it will launch the iPad Wi-Fi in China this Friday, September 17, at 10:00 a.m. local time. Curiously, Apple’s announcement makes no mention of when or if the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G might be available despite a recent report that indicated the company had reached an agreement with China Unicom to offer the device. The release also states that Apple plans to roll out the iPad in “many more countries” later this year, and will announce availability and pricing details for these additional countries at a later date. Notably, the announcement also refers to the model as the “iPad Wi-Fi,” and not the iPad with Wi-Fi. The iPad Wi-Fi in China will sell for CNY3988 (roughly $590) for the 16GB model, CNY4788 (~$708) for 32GB, and CNY5588 ($827) for the 64GB version.