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Australian Government certifies iOS device use for classified material

Australian newspaper Herald Sun reports that the Australian Government has given approval for devices running iOS 5 to be used for storing and communicating classified information. The organization responsible for information security within the Australian Department of Defence, the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), has developed a set of policies and hardening procedures that will permit iOS 5.1 devices to be used to handle classified information at the PROTECTED level—the lowest general security classification used within the Australian Government. Mike Burgess, acting director of the DSD, stated that iOS 5 has successfully passed a stringent and intensive security assessment to ensure that it meets Australian Government information security requirements. The security evaluation, which is believed to be the first of its kind for iOS, covers only those devices owned and managed by Australian government agencies that have had specific DSD hardening procedures implemented and are used in accordance with DSD security advice. Examples of such standards include use of the devices in Apple’s Supervised mode, use of iOS Data Protection and storing information only within Data Protection enabled applications, disallowing the use of third-party applications and using non-secure apps and services, including Siri dictation, only for unclassified information. [via AppleInsider]

FiftyThree releases Paper for iPad

FiftyThree has released Paper, a new sketching and drawing app for the iPad. Focused on a providing a minimalist design, Paper acts as a simple notebook or journal effectively turning the entire iPad screen into a freeform drawing canvas with no additional buttons, controls or other distractions. The app instead relies heavily on a gesture-based control interface: users open and close journals and journal pages with pinch gestures, flip pages by swiping in from the bezel at the sides and access the drawing tools by swiping up from the bottom; users can “Rewind” (undo) by rotating with two fingers in a counter-clockwise direction while other one-finger gestures are used simply to draw on the page with the currently selected tool. The free app includes an eraser and single fountain pen drawing tool with 9 colours; additional tools are available via in-app purchase for $2 each or $8 for the full set of four. Paper is available from the App Store as a free download.

Gmail for iOS adds alternate sender support

Google has made a background update to its Gmail mobile app for iOS devices adding support for sending from alternate addresses. Users of both the native Gmail iOS app and HTML5 web app can now choose to use any of their configured From addresses when sending a new e-mail message or replying to an existing message. As before, Gmail will still select the appropriate sender address automatically when replying to a message, however the new feature now allows users to visually confirm which address will be used when composing a reply. Alternate address support has been added on Google’s end and does not require an update to the native Gmail iOS app; users of the native app should see the option appear over the next few days. The native Gmail app is a universal iOS app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Taposé offers collaborative, confusing iPad journaling

Following an extended period of App Store submissions and rejections, Zanther has released Taposé, a new iPad productivity app that provides an integrated collection of tools including a collaborative multimedia journal, fully featured web browser, interactive maps, calculator and more. Designed with a focus on collaboration, Taposé is tied into a cloud-based service with a unified virtual workspace, allowing multiple users to share and edit journals in real-time. In addition to text editing and formatting features, the journal also supports rich content such as drawings, media elements, contact cards, web clippings and maps. Users can also share either complete journals or individual pages as static PDF documents via e-mail, Evernote, and Dropbox, or print them via AirPrint. Taposé is available from the App Store for $3. Collaborative sharing requires registration for a Taposé account; 400MB of storage is provided for free with unlimited storage available for a $30/year subscription.

Our initial impressions of Taposé show evidence of a great concept in need of significant user interface improvements. The UI relies on many gesture-based actions that are not immediately apparent to the user, and the included tutorial journal does not provide enough information in this regard. Further,  the decision to mimic a real-world journal design in the app contributes to this confusion, forcing the user to endure a disorienting left/right “sliding pages” interface when working in portrait view. Turning pages requires corner swipes that are confusing at first, and worsened when you change orientations. The app appears to be considerably less confusing and more usable and responsive in landscape orientation. It is also worth noting that the button to log into or register for a Taposé account only appears in the control hub in landscape orientation.

Apple supplier Hon Hai takes large stake in Sharp

Apple manufacturing partner Hon Hai—better known as Foxconn—has bought in to Japanese firm Sharp. According to a Reuters report, Hon Hai took around a ten percent share of the company, and may use its new stake as extra leverage in attempting to win orders of Apple’s rumored TV set. “Hon Hai is already the assembler of Apple’s iPhone and iPad, it needs the next driver, which is Apple TV,” said Yuanta Securities analyst Vincent Chen. “It’s something that [Hon Hai founder] Terry Gou cannot afford not to do. But this is a very big gamble.” The report goes on to note that the newly formed relationship between Hon Hai and Sharp may give the latter a leg up in bids for Apple display orders, as Hon Hai/Sharp may be in a position to offer superior pricing. Sharp currently supplies Apple with Retina Displays for the third-generation iPad.

Apple to offer refunds to iPad 4G customers in Australia

In the wake of a potential complaint from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Apple has agreed to clarify claims that the third-generation iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G is compatible with 4G networks. Earlier this week, the ACCC announced plans to file a complaint against Apple over what it considered to be “misleading” marketing. In addition to clarifying the device’s cellular capabilities in a statement in its stores and on its website that reads, ““This product supports very fast cellular networks. It is not compatible with current Australian 4G LTE networks and Wi-Max networks”, Apple also said that it would offer refunds to early purchasers who feel they were misled. Ultimately, the ACCC wants Apple to stop marketing the device as the “iPad Wi-Fi + 4G”, while it appears that Apple wants to retain the moniker, and feels that the extra disclaimers will be sufficient to eliminate confusion.

Discovr People helps users find new people on Twitter

Filter Squad has released Discovr People, a new app designed to help iOS users find new people to follow on Twitter. The app allows users to explore the world of Twitter users displaying an interactive, virtual map of connections between Twitter users based on their recent conversations. Users can enter a Twitter handle directly or tap on a person to see a map of similar people or double-tap on a person to view detailed information about them such as their profile, tweets, connections and mentions. Users can also browser through Top Twitter lists, Featured lists or their own lists; new Twitter profiles can be saved to a user’s own Twitter lists and shared with friends via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. Discovr People is a universal app requiring iOS 5 or later and is available from the App Store for $1.

Apple exec explains iOS device charging

In an interview with AllThingsD, Apple VP Michael Tchao has explained in some detail the charging process on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. According to Tchao, all iOS devices do in fact display a 100 percent charge just prior to reaching a complete charge, at which point it will continue charging to 100 percent, then discharge slightly and charge back up, repeating the process for as long as the device is connected. “That circuitry is designed so you can keep your device plugged in as long as you would like,” Tchao said, adding that the process allows devices to maintain an optimum charge. “It’s a great feature that’s always been in iOS.”

4G iPad moniker ‘misleading’, Australian watchdog claims

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced plans to file a complaint against Apple for alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) based on the company’s marketing of the third-generation iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G. The announcement reads, “The ACCC alleges that Apple’s recent promotion of the new ‘iPad with WiFi + 4G’ is misleading because it represents to Australian consumers that the product ‘iPad with WiFi + 4G’ can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case.” Of course, all third-generation iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G units sold in Australia can, in fact, connect to 4G LTE networks; Apple is not responsible for pushing local carriers to adopt the technology. The ACCC is seeking urgent interlocutory relief to ensure consumers are made aware of the correct technical capabilities of this device, as well as injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising and refunds to consumers affected.

iLounge third-gen iPad tests suggest overcharging’s a myth

In the wake of continued reports claiming that the third-generation iPad continues to aggressively draw power long after it reports a 100 percent charge, iLounge has run its own collection of tests that suggest otherwise. Use of a Kill-a-Watt power monitoring tool showed that the new iPad draws up to 12W of wall power under peak conditions—screen brightness at 100 percent with Infinity Blade II playing—but more typically draws 10-11W under two conditions: active “full-speed” recharging with the screen off, or when being used for less graphic-intensive apps with screen brightness at 100%, after having fully recharged. By comparison, with the screen on and brightness set to 50 percent, it draws roughly 7W from the wall while it’s being used after a full recharge, and 5-7W for slower trickle charging. Moreover, after reaching the 100% mark, it quickly drops to drawing only 1-2W of power when the screen’s off and it’s sitting idle. Notably, we saw very similar numbers for the iPad 2, which drew 11W at its most power-hungry, and fell to 4-5W for slower charging.

There’s no doubt that the new iPad is more power-hungry than its predecessor, and there’s also atypical disparity between when the new iPad reports a 100 percent charge and when its battery is actually charged to full capacity—an error that should and hopefully will be fixed in the near future. However, we are not seeing unusual continued charging times or power drain after it reaches the 100% mark. To the contrary, it appears to be drawing less power at that point, just as was the case with the iPad 2. That’s right in line with what we’d expect from an idling device that’s sipping energy to keep its fuel levels at max for eventual disconnection and portable use.

Apple to add Baidu search to Safari on iOS?

Apple will include Baidu as a default search option in iOS’ Safari browser, according to a new report. Citing informed sources, Chinese-language Sina Technology News (Translated Link) reports that the search engine will be introduced to iOS users in the Chinese market next month, as part of a partnership between Apple and Baidu. Currently, Google is installed as the default search engine in iOS, with options for Yahoo and Bing. It is unclear whether Baidu search will arrive in a system software update, or if Apple will be able to enable support through other means. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple pledges royalty-free license for nano-SIM patents

In an going dispute with Motorola Mobility, RIM, and Nokia over Apple’s proposed nano-SIM card, Apple has made a surprisingly generous offer in exchange for the standardization of the technology. Citing a “perfectly reliable source”, FOSS Patents reports that Apple sent a letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) last week, in which it made a commitment to grant royalty-free licenses to any and all Apple patents essential to nano-SIM. The proposal would only become effective if Apple’s proposal is adopted as a standard, and all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.

As noted in the report, the move shows that Apple is serious about establishing the nano-SIM standard, as it should nullify concerns of other handset manufacturers who worried that Apple might eventually own all the patents related to the technology, and thus give it the ability to charge royalties on any nano-SIM-compatible handsets. The new standard proposals are expected to be discussed at ETSI’s Smart Card Platform Plenary meeting later this week.

Third-gen iPad receives Chinese regulatory approval

Apple has received regulatory approval for the third-generation iPad in China. Computerworld reports that the China Quality Certification Center has given the device the China Compulsory Certification, a mandatory stamp necessary for the sale of the device in the country. According to the report, 3G versions of the iPad will still need regulatory approval for a network access permit, but even with the approval, Apple may face roadblocks bringing the device to market thanks to an ongoing trademark dispute over the iPad name in China. Apple has yet to announce a release date for the device in China.

Apple launches third-gen iPad in 24 additional countries

Apple today launched its third-generation iPad in 24 additional countries, bringing the total number of countries in which the device has launched to 34. Alongside last week’s launches in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands, the new iPad launched today in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. Apple announced that it sold three million third-generation iPad units in four days earlier this week.

URL spoofing vulnerability found in iOS 5.1

A new security vulnerability has been found in Safari on iOS 5.1. Citing security advisories from MajorSecurity as well as the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, Your Daily Mac reports that the vulnerability allows for the possibility that the URL of the site a user is looking at does not match what is in the address bar. According to the report, the JavaScript command ‘window.open()’ is at the heart of the issue—while the opening of a new window is apparent on desktop operating systems and Android devices, it is considerably less so in the latest version of mobile Safari. The report suggests that while the vulnerability has been tested with iOS 5.1, it is possible—likely, even—that it exists in Safari on older versions of the operating system. [via The Next Web | Mac Rumors]

Third-gen iPad Smart Cover woes blamed on polarity

A new report suggests that the third-generation iPad’s incompatibility is due to a change in the sensor used to sense magnets and not due to a change in placement or some other matter. Blogger Mark Booth claims that Apple is using a new design of sleep/wake sensor in the third-gen iPad that is sensitive to polarity, and that cases which appear not to work with the new model are simply built with the incorrect polarity. In addition, Booth claims that Apple made the change due to complaints from some iPad 2 customers who found that their iPads would go to sleep simply from folding the Smart Cover flat behind the device. According to Booth, Apple modified the design specifications of its Smart Covers sometime in 2011, giving the updated units new model numbers, and fixing the accidental activation problem. For more information, see our Backstage article on the subject. [via The Verge]

SugarSync 3.0 debuts redesigned iPad UI

SugarSync has released a major update to its universal iOS client adding a completely redesigned interface for iPad users. SugarSync is a cloud-based storage and synchronization service that allows users to easily sync their files and folders across multiple computers and mobile devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with the free, universal iOS app. With SugarSync 3.0 the iPad interface has been completely redesigned to provide better use of the larger screen both for the display of information as well as new drag-and-swipe navigation for commonly used features.

With version 3.0 on the iPad, devices and shared folders are now displayed in a permanent sidebar at the left of the screen along with mobile photos and videos, web archives, recent documents, the Magic Briefcase and more. A sliding and stacking panels interface allows users to more effectively navigate into their folder structures while viewing multiple folders at once, providing quick access to other folders and the persistent top-level sidebar at the left; users can use drag and swipe gestures to move the stacked panels in order keep track of current and related folders as they navigate the file system and view individual files. SugarSync 3.0 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Third-gen iPad charges past 100%, raising meter/battery questions

Continuing to look into display- and battery-related questions surrounding the third-generation iPad, DisplayMate has found some noteworthy battery charging-related oddities. In an email exchange with iLounge, DisplayMate President Ray Soneira indicated that the third-generation iPad—when connected to power via the included Apple 10W Power Adapter—actually continued to draw 10W of power for up to one hour after reaching what is reported by iOS as a full 100% charge. In iLounge’s testing, the new iPad switches from a lightning bolt (“still charging”) to plug (“done charging”) battery icon 5 to 10 minutes after reaching 100%; Soneira confirmed that the iPad still charges even when it claims to have been filled.

Notably, iLounge found unusual, non-linear reported battery drain during our numerous battery tests, with the third-generation iPad sometimes reporting a battery loss of just two percent over the first hour of testing, then averaging 10% of loss each hour afterwards while performing the same tasks. It is unclear at this point whether Apple has taken certain liberties when reporting battery levels to give the impression of faster charging and slower loss—similar to its prior treatment of cellular signal levels for iPhones, an issue remedied shortly after the iPhone 4 was released—or if there is some other explanation for the observed battery charging and discharging behavior.

WSJ: Limited plan users find LTE iPads eat more data

A new report suggests that some third-generation iPad owners are finding their LTE connections help highlight the limited nature of their data plans. The Wall Street Journal reports that a number of users have already burned through their monthly data allotments just days after receiving their new device. Streaming video is given primary blame for the issue, but should be expected by users; since LTE can deliver data speeds similar to—if not faster than—home Wi-Fi, content providers are streaming higher-quality videos to the devices, which in turn uses more data. Confusing matters further is AT&T’s decision to label its HSPA+ network “4G”, as videos delivered over that network still arrive in a highly compressed, 3G-ready form. As noted in the report, AT&T is considering a plan through which app developers and content providers would cover the bill for customers’ data usage; the charges would likely be passed on to the consumer in the form of advertising or in-app subscriptions.

Users report Wi-Fi issues with third-gen iPad

A number of third-generation iPad users have taken to Apple’s support forums to report issues with Wi-Fi connectivity. The thread, which has reached seven pages in length, suggests that quite a few users are seeing poor Wi-Fi performance on their new iPads, with the signal staying lower than comparable devices—including the original iPad and iPad 2—and subsequently dropping the signal a shorter distance away from the router. iLounge has seen little evidence of this in our testing of multiple iPads, but our editors have seen past and current iPad units experience normal signal weakness related to increased distance from wireless base stations, and attenuation related to antenna blockage. It’s unclear whether some third-generation iPads have faulty wireless hardware, or whether software updates for iPads or routers will be able to remedy the reported issues.

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