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Planetary adds graphic enhancements, playlist support

Bloom Studio has released a major update to Planetary, its visual music explorer for the iPad. Part visualizer, part music player, Planetary allows users to explore their music collection as a 3D trip through the galaxy, zooming in on artists displayed as solar systems, albums as planets, and tracks as moons. Version 2.0 adds several significant graphical enhancements with new galaxy detail, solar flares, eclipses, atmospheric glow, accretion disks and more detailed textures for planets and moons. Additional graphic detail has also been added for the more powerful iPad 2 capabilities.

The new version also the ability to select playlists and toggle shuffle and repeat modes directly within the app along with automatic camera motion during playback, gyroscope support for the iPad 2 and scale and speed sliders to adjust the view. Several bug fixes and performance issues have also been addressed in the update. Planetary is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple wins ruling against Samsung in Germany

Apple has won another court battle in its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung. Reuters reports that a German court has upheld an injunction barring Samsung from selling its Galaxy 10.1 tablets in Germany. In the ruling, Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hoffman said that the overall impression of the Tab 10.1 was too similar to the iPad, stating that it “is distinguished by its smooth, simple areas.” The decision limits retailers to sales of existing stock and or obtaining new supplies from Samsung’s parent company Samsung International. Samsung can object to the decision.

Netflix now limits concurrent streaming? (Updated: No)

According to a new report by Stop the Cap, Netflix has recently started to enforce streaming restrictions on subscribers, limiting streaming content to one device at a time. Although the Netflix Terms of Use previously included this limit as an official policy, it was not enforced, enabling users to stream multiple movies or TV shows at once to different devices.

While the policy applies to all Netflix-capable devices, it would appear that it is not yet being consistently enforced within the Netflix iOS app. Our testing today demonstrated that different Netflix content could concurrently stream on up to three iOS devices over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections, or on an Apple TV and a single iOS device, provided the Apple TV stream was already running when the iOS stream began. It is unclear at this time whether this behavior is intentional or not, however the Netflix Terms of Use do not provide any exceptions for specific devices. [via Mashable]

Update: A follow-up report from GigaOM indicates that this seems to be the result of a technical glitch rather than an actual policy change, citing an e-mail from Netflix VP of Corporate Communications Steve Swasey in which he stated that “No Netflix member is limited to less than two concurrent streams. A few Netflix members have heard differently from us, which is an error that we are correcting.”

iPad 3 to sport thinner, lighter battery

  • September 7, 2011
  • iPad,

The iPad 3 will feature a thinner, lighter battery module, according to a new report. Citing Institutional investors, the Taiwan Economic News reports that the component, expected to be manufactured by Simplo Techonology and Dynapack International Technology, is also expected to cost 20-30 percent more than the same component int he iPad 2, and will also offer a longer service life. Notably, a recent Digitimes report claimed that the iPad 3’s expected high-resolution, 2048 x 1536 display requires a much larger backlight than prior models, which may offset thickness gains earned from using a thinner battery. In addition, the report claims that the new battery will be required to meet CTIA IEEE 1625 standards for better quality and safety reliability, with deliveries to begin in the fourth quarter of this year. [via AppleInsider]

Verizon airs new ad for iPad 2

  • September 7, 2011
  • iPad,
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Verizon Wireless has started to air its own TV advertisement for the iPad 2. The 30-second spot highlights the use of the Verizon model’s 3G connection to download books, stay connected when away from Wi-Fi, post to Twitter, and take pictures. The new spot is available for viewing on YouTube or in embedded form below. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple using two suppliers for iPhone 5 camera lenses

Apple is using two Taiwanese companies as suppliers for the iPhone 5’s camera lens, according to The Taiwan Economic News. The report claims that Taiwan-based Largan Precision and Genius Electronic Optical will share orders for lenses for the iPhone 5’s expected eight-megapixel camera, with Largan supplying a slightly larger portion. According to the report, the two companies also shared orders for the iPhone 4’s five-megapixel lens and the iPad 2’s higher-resolution lens, while Genius is said to produce nearly all the VGA lenses for iPhones and iPads.

GameStop to sell iOS devices in stores?

Video game specialty retailer game stop may soon begin offering the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad in its stores, according to a new report. Citing several unnamed sources, 9to5Mac reports that the announcement was made to dealers at a recent trade show in Las Vegas. GameStop also recently began accepting iOS device trade-ins for store credits, and may be planning to offer used products before phasing in new offerings. Such a move by GameStop would likely bolster iOS’ growing reputation as a viable gaming platform.

3G iPad 2 receives regulatory approval in China

  • September 6, 2011
  • iPad,

Apple has received regulatory approval for the WCDMA-compatible Wi-Fi + 3G model of the iPad 2 in China, according to a Wall Street Journal report. China’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center has issued the network license required for official sales to an Apple device with 3G wireless data capabilities, listed as model number A1396—the same model number as the standard GSM iPad 2. The report notes that the model is already available through the company’s partners in Hong Kong, where it will soon open its first retail store in the upscale IFC mall, but that sales in mainland China have been limited to the Wi-Fi-only models. When released the 3G iPad 2 will be compatible with and will likely be sold by Apple’s current iPhone parter China Unicom.

Solar Walk adds 3D TV support

Vito Technology has released an update to Solar Walk adding support for displaying content on an external 3D TV. Solar Walk is a 3D interactive virtual model of our solar system that allows users to navigate through space and time exploring the planets and their moons along with several of Earth’s satellites and hundreds of named places on Earth’s Moon, Mars, Earth and Venus. A Time Machine feature allows users to adjust time back or forward moving planets and satellites along their real trajectories. Version 1.8 adds support for connecting to an external screen including 3D TV support along with 3D models of Earth’s ten main satellites with real-time trajectories and more detailed Earth textures. The update also adds three new educational movies: Tidal Phenomena, Major Circles of Latitude and Zodiacal Constellations. Solar Walk 1.8 is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $3.

Hulu Plus brings back HDMI output - in standard-definition only

Hulu has released an update to Hulu Plus adding limited support for displaying video content on an external display over HDMI on the iPad 2. With the release of the iPad 2 in March, Hulu Plus was originally able to provide HDMI output via the new display mirroring feature, however the company quickly moved to block this capability, releasing an update in April that disabled display mirroring when using the Hulu Plus application, presumably due to content licensing restrictions.

The release of Hulu Plus 2.4 adds HDMI output capabilities back into the application; rather than using the display mirroring feature, however, the app sends a separate, standard-definition video stream to an HDMI connected display. The update also adds the ability to save an entire season to the queue, adds closed captioning support to some content and renames “Subscriptions” to “Favorites.” Hulu Plus 2.4 is available from the App Store as a free download. HDMI output requires the Apple Digital AV Adapter and an iPad 2.

Apple airs new iPad 2 ad ‘Learn’

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Apple has started to air its latest TV commercial for the iPad 2. Entitled “Learn,”  the 30-second advertisement is similar in tone to the company’s prior iPad 2 commercials, and features a voiceover by Peter Coyote which states, “Are you curious about new ideas? Do you want to learn a new language, or just a new word? Maybe you want to know more about anatomy, or astronomy. You could master something new, or uncover a hidden talent. There’s never been a better time to learn.” The new commercial is available for viewing on Apple’s website.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 7 to developers

Apple has seeded its seventh beta version of iOS 5 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch to registered developers. Listed as build 9a5313e, the release is also available as an over-the-air update for devices running the prior beta, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 7 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.

EA releases Surviving High School HD

Electronic Arts has released Surviving High School HD, an iPad version of its popular choice-based role-playing game. First released for the iPhone and iPod touch nearly two years ago, Surviving High School has provided unique, ongoing playability by providing a storyline and framework in which the developer releases new episodic content each week allowing the player to experience new stories and adventures in the lives of a group of high school and college students in the fictional town of Centerscore.

Providing the same general gameplay as the original, Surviving High School HD also introduces two new iPad-specific game features that appear when playing in landscape mode. A new “Faceplace” section provides a fictional Facebook-style news feed where in-game characters post their thoughts as the game progresses while a Decision Tree section adds a full diagram showing the current scene and possible story branches and allows the player to skip back to specific scenes once they’ve completed an episode. As with the original version, the game begins with the included “Football Season” story and continues each week with new episodic content. Users can access the current week’s “Now Airing” episode for free or purchase previous episodes from an “On-demand” section. The application also displays a new illustrated episode timeline unique to the iPad, showing each episode in thumbnail form. Unfortunately, in-app purchases made in the iPhone version of Surviving High School are not transferable to the new iPad version and must be purchased separately, although previous seasons are available in discounted content packs. Surviving High School HD is available from the App Store as a free download.

Refurbished iPad 2 units now available from Apple

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Apple has started to offer a limited selection of refurbished iPad 2 units on its online store. Currently, the models offered include 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G models on AT&T and Verizon, 64GB Wi-Fi only models, and 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G models on both AT&T and Verizon. Each model is priced at $50 less than retail, making the prices for the three models mentioned above $679, $649, and $779, respectively. It is not clear how much stock Apple has, although it is likely that these more expensive models will be joined by more affordable 16GB and 32GB units in the coming weeks.

Apple created team in 2008 to tackle counterfeiting

Apple organized a team in 2008 to crack down on the spread of knockoff iPods and iPhones in China, according to a new report. Citing a September 2008 memo from the Beijing embassy that was published online by WikiLeaks, CNN reports that despite Apple’s move, progress has been slow, as gadget piracy isn’t a high priority for the Chinese government. The report states that members of Apple’s global security team were recruited from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer after it executed a series of crackdowns on counterfeit Viagra production in Asia, and that former Pfizer security chief—and former FBI agent—John Theriault leads the team. It goes on to say that China’s Guangdong province has become a hub for manufacturing and selling counterfeit Apple products, as Apple manufacturing parter Foxconn operates factories there. According to the report, the Chinese counterfeit ring is also responsible for supplying knockoff goods to India, where officials had discovered shipments that came from China through Hong Kong.

OfficeTime releases iOS time tracking app

OfficeTime Software has released an iOS version of its popular desktop time and expense tracking app. Aimed at consultants, freelancers, attorneys and other professionals who need to track their time for billing purposes, OfficeTime for iOS is designed to balance features and ease of use, making it simple and intuitive to enter time and expenses. The application includes support for multiple timers, easy switching between tasks and continuing timing in the background while using other iOS applications.

Advanced features include one-touch report generation by project or time period, tracking billable hours against fixed cost estimates and contracts and exporting reports and data to Microsoft Excel and Apple Numbers. OfficeTime for iOS can also synchronize data with OfficeTime for Mac and Windows including support for aggregating data from multiple iOS devices for team reporting and billing. OfficeTime for iOS is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $8. A free version is also available which provides limited projects and categories and excludes data export and desktop synchronization capabilities.

PopCap releases Peggle HD for iPad

PopCap games has released the long awaited iPad version of its highly acclaimed Peggle arcade puzzle game. Optimized for the larger iPad display, Peggle HD provides the same basic game play and features from the iPhone and iPod touch version, where players must clear pegs from the board by launching a ball into the playing field and hitting the pegs either directly or rebounding off other objects. Four different game styles are available: the classic campaign-style Adventure mode, Quick Play, two-player Duel mode and Challenge mode. Players can train with the usual ten Peggle Masters to learn special magical skills for different levels and progress through 55 levels and 40 Grand Master Challenges. Peggle HD is available from the App Store for $3.

G5 releases Virtual City Playground HD

G5 Entertainment has released Virtual City Playground HD, a sequel to the company’s popular city-building game introduced last fall. Virtual City Playground is an expanded version of the previous game adding 87 new quests, over 90 new buildings and landmarks and Facebook and Game Center integration. Players can build their own open-ended city in a see sandbox mode with no predefined goals or take on any of the optional scenarios for more challenges.

Virtual City HD also incorporates a new freemium model with In-App Purchases that can be used to buy in-game currency, city credits and invest points to progress more quickly in the game and access additional content. Game Center integration allows users to post high scores and achievements and users can also share their achievements on Facebook to earn invest points. G5 Entertainment also plans to release additional regular free updates to offer more content, game mechanics and improved social integration. Virtual City Playground HD is available from the App Store as a free download.

JailbreakMe founder to intern at Apple

Comex, founder of the browser-based jailbreak tool JailbreakMe and major figure in the jailbreak community, has announced that he will soon be starting an internship with Apple. “It’s been really, really fun, but it’s also been a while and I’ve been getting bored,” he wrote in a Twitter update. “So, the week after next I will be starting an internship with Apple.” It’s unclear what type of position the coder might hold with Apple, but given his background, it seems likely that his expertise may be used to discover and plug vulnerabilities in iOS and in mobile Safari in particular. [via 9to5Mac]

Samsung cites ‘2001’ in iPad suit defense

Samsung has filed its opposition to Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the United States, and in doing so has cited a sci-fi classic as evidence that the iPad’s design existed well before Apple’s patent covering it. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents reports that in its briefing, Samsung cited a pair of devices shown during Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as valid prior art for a certain iPad-related design patent. “In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers,” the briefing reads. “As with the design claimed by the D’889 Patent, the tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table’s surface), and a thin form factor.” While the actors are seen interacting with the tablets as they would static video screens, the scene does not show the devices running an OS, applications of any sort, or otherwise performing other tasks one would associate with an iPad. The clip is available for viewing below. [via MDN]

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