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Twitter adds Expanded Tweets, Notification Improvements

Twitter has released an update to its official iOS app adding support for its new Expanded Tweets feature and improving notification options along with several other user interface enhancements. With Twitter 4.3 users will be able to view extended content within Tweets containing links to selected partner websites such as content previews, images, videos and more. Selected events will also now provide an enhanced experience highlighting the best Tweets and photos from specific users involved in the event.

Twitter 4.3 also provides more options for Push Notifications, allowing users to now choose to receive notifications any time someone they follow posts a tweet or retweet to their timeline and provides less intrusive “ambient notifications” in the status bar when using the app. Additional enhancements include improvements to search autocompletion for users, tappable avatars that link directly to user profiles, notification of new information on the Discover tab, Hungarian language support and numerous bug fixes and performance improvements. Twitter 4.3 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Google+ for iPad now available

Google has released a universal update to its Google+ app for iOS devices adding a native iPad user interface, support for Google+ Events and improvements to Google+ Hangouts. Announced last month at Google’s I/O conference, the Google+ 3.0 update introduces a new user interface designed specifically for the iPad with gestural navigation, easily tappable actions and a full screen stream and media viewing experience. New Google+ Hangout features have also been added with the ability to start a Hangout with up to nine friends from within the iOS app along with support for streaming a Hangout to an Apple TV via AirPlay.

This latest version also adds support for Google+ Events, allowing users to create and manage new events directly from their iOS device along with posting comments, uploading photos and viewing guest lists and RSVP status. Users can also browse through past event invitations with all of their accompanying photos and posts. Users can also now easily attach Instant Upload photos to new posts. Google+ 3.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple launches third-gen iPad in China on July 20

Apple this morning announced that it will launch the third-generation iPad in China on July 20. Both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi +Cellular models will be available through the Apple Online Store, from select Apple Authorized Resellers, and by reservation from Apple retail stores. According to the company, reservation requests will be accepted daily from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. beginning Thursday, July 19 for pick up the following day. As with the device’s launch in other locales, the arrival of the third-generation iPad in China will see the starting price of the iPad 2 lowered to $399 US.

‘iPad mini’ to be assembled in Brazil?

Apple’s rumored smaller iPad model will be assembled in Foxconn’s Brazil factory, according to a new report. AppleInsider points to Japanese-language MacOtakara, which sites a “reliable Chinese source” as saying that while CNC machine testing for the device has finished in China, actual assembly of the device will take place at Foxconn’s factory in Jundiai, Brazil. The report goes on to state that production is expected to start in September, ramping up in time for the holiday shopping season. In addition, it claims that the new device is roughly the same height as Google’s recently-announced Nexus 7 tablet, but is slightly wide and is closer in thickness to an iPod touch than other iPads.

Third-gen iPad to launch in China on July 27?

Apple will launch the third-generation iPad in mainland China on July 27, according to a new report. Citing Chinese-language PCPOP, M.I.C. Gadget reports that the device will be available for purchase in Apple’s company-owned retail stores, as well as in Suning electronics stores. Strangely, the device suggests that Apple will refrain from launching the Wi-Fi + Cellular model in the country—a move that would be highly unusual, considering it currently offers 3G-enabled models of the iPad 2 in China—and also claims that it will sell for the same price as the current iPad 2, which has been the case in most other countries where it’s launched.

Apple releases Configurator 1.1

Apple has released Configurator 1.1, the latest version of its mass deployment tool for iOS devices. Configurator enables schools, businesses, and other institutions to configure up to 30 iOS devices at a time, update software, create and restore backups of settings and app data, and more. According to the release notes, version 1.1 improves reliability and ease of use when installing paid apps with Volume Purchase Program redemption codes, adds new preferences to disable the automatic removal of apps or profiles installed by the user when a configuration is reapplied and disable reapplying a configuration each time a supervised device is connected, includes small changes to the profile editor, and ensures that VPP codes are no longer marked as invalid if the App Store is unavailable. Apple Configurator 1.1 is available now as a free download from the Mac App Store.

Apple’s iOS Maps to use AutoNavi in China

Apple has chosen AutoNavi to supply map services in China, according to a new report. Citing people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that AutoNavi will supply maps of China to users running iOS 6 on their devices. AutoNavi set up a joint venture with TomTom—a known supplier of mapping data for Apple’s iOS 6 Maps application—in 2010. Apple touted improved support for Chinese services in iOS 6 during its WWDC keynote address.

Reports point to ‘iPad mini’ launch

Two new reports have reiterated that Apple plans to launch a sub 8-inch iPad before the end of the year. Citing people with knowledge of the plans, Bloomberg reports that the new model will have a screen that’s between 7 and 8 inches in size diagonally, and may be announced in October. The report also states that the new product will not have the “high-definition” screen seen in the third-generation iPad. In a separate report, the Wall Street Journal cites people familiar with the situation as it states that the device will sport a screen smaller than 8 inches in size. The report goes on to claim that Apple and its component suppliers are preparing for mass production to ramp up in September, which suggests a launch later this year. Apple has long been rumored to be working on such a device; the frequency of reports suggesting a near-term launch have increased greatly this year.

Google releases Google Drive for IOS

Google has released a universal iOS client for its Google Drive service. Introduced earlier this spring, Google Drive is an evolution of Google Docs into a full cloud-based file storage and sharing platform. The new iOS app allows users to access their Google Drive online storage allowing viewing PDFs, photos, videos, and documents while on the go; files can also be opened in other iOS apps supporting the “Open in” feature. Users can also search for files, add collaborators to documents and sync files for offline use when no network connection is available. Note that this initial release of Google Drive for iOS does not currently support editing files directly within the app, real-time collaboration, creating new items, or moving items between folders or into the trash, although the company notes that it is continuing to develop the app. Google Drive is a universal app, requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Navigon adds Google Street View

Navigon has released an update to its universal iOS navigation apps adding integrated support for Google Street view, custom routing and a new optional ‘Cockpit’ heads-up display feature. When planning a route with Navigon 2.1, users can now be shown a street-level view of their destination when starting a route, helping them to identify the specific location they should be looking for upon arrivel. The Google Street view integration provides an initial snapshot of the area that users can then expand to a full screen 360-degree view of the destination’s surrounding area; the Google Street view preview will also appear automatically shortly before arriving at the destination.

A new Navigon Cockpit feature has also been added as an optional $3 in-app purchase, allowing users to display relevant, real-time driving data on screen to see a snapshot of their driving habits. Data includes gForce, speed, horizontal and vertical position and an adjustable speed and altitude graph as well as a separate screen with compass and altitude information designed for off-road driving. The new version also adds support for manual route blocking to help users more effectively set their own custom routes. Users can view their route on a map and block certain sections simply by tapping on them, prompting the app to automatically calculate an alternative route to avoid the selected areas. Users can access the manual route blocking both when planning a route as well as during navigation.

Additional enhancements include Retina Display graphics for the third-generation iPad, an optimized map manager interface for downloading and deleting maps and improvements to start-up time and map rendering performance.  The Navigon apps are available from the App Store in a variety of regional versions, including Navigon North America ($40), Navigon USA ($30), Navigon Canada ($35) and Navigon Europe ($85); a full list can be found on the Navigon AG App Store page. The North American Navigon apps and related in-app purchases are available at reduced pricing until July 16, 2012.

Apple settles iPad trademark dispute in China

Apple has settled its trademark dispute with Proview over the iPad name in China. As part of the settlement, Apple will pay Proview $60 million for the rights to the name, which Apple claimed it purchased in 2009, but was never transferred. Speaking with the AP, Proview lawyer Xie Xianghui said the company had hoped for as much as $400 million from a potential settlement, but felt pressure to settle because it needs to pay debts. The company may still be declared bankrupt in a separate proceeding. “The iPad dispute resolution is ended,” the Guangdong High People’s Court said in a statement. “Apple Inc. has transferred $60 million to the account of the Guangdong High Court as requested in the mediation letter.”

Google releases Chrome for iOS

Google has released a universal iOS version of its Chrome browser. The app is designed as an alternative to the built-in Safari browser for users of Chrome on the desktop and allows users to sync their open tabs, bookmarks, passwords and omnibox data between their computer and their iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, allowing them seamlessly transition between devices and preserve a unified browsing experience. Users can also send pages from their desktop Chrome browser directly to their iOS device for reading on the go, even when offline.

Chrome for iOS also provides fast search and navigation with a single, combined address and search bar similar to the desktop version with search results that appear as the user types. Intuitive touchscreen gestures are used to open and switch between tabs, allowing iPhone and iPod touch users to flip through their screens like a deck of cards or iPad users to swipe from edge to edge to quickly switch between tabs. The iOS version also supports the “Incognito” mode from the desktop version, allowing users to open pages and browse without saving history or other tracking data. Google Chrome requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

The New York Times now available in Flipboard

Flipboard has released an update to its social news magazine app for iOS with the addition of content from The New York Times. Designed to provide users with a personalized collection of their news and social feeds, Flipboard collects information from major media publications and social networks, presenting the information in an appealing magazine style view. With the latest update, Flipboard users can read The New York Times’ Top News section at no charge while paid subscribers can access the full paper, integrated with their other news and social feeds. Flipboard 1.9.4 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Atari offers 100 Greatest Hits free for 40th Anniversary

In celebration of Atari’s 40th Anniversary the company is giving away all of the 100 games included in its Atari’s Greatest Hits iOS app for free. Normally available as in-app purchases at $1 each of $10 for the entire set, for today only users will be able to download Atari 2600 classics such as Asteroids, Centipede, Pong, Battlezone and more. An updated version of the app has been released on the App Store for the 40th anniversary special. Atari’s Greatest Hits is a universal iOS app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Google intros Nexus 7, Nexus Q as iPad, Apple TV rivals

Google today introduced its first self-branded tablet, the Nexus 7, as well as a new Apple TV-challenging device called the Nexus Q. Halfway between the Kindle Fire and the iPad, the Nexus 7 is positioned as a media tablet, featuring a 7-inch, 1280x800 IPS display, a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, NFC support, a microphone, GPS, and the Android 4.1 operating system. It is available for pre-order now, priced at $199 for an 8GB model or $249 for a 16GB unit.

Shaped like an orb, the Nexus Q is akin to a beefed-up Apple TV: powered by dual ARM Cortex A9 CPUs and relying upon 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection, Nexus Q boasts 16GB of flash storage, Bluetooth, NFC support, 32 perimeter LEDs for ambient lighting, Micro HDMI and optical audio outputs. Unusually, it also includes an integrated 25W amplifier with banana jack outputs for connecting directly to speakers, as well as a top-mounted dome volume control. However, Nexus Q’s current software does not appear to have been designed for standalone use, seemingly relying instead upon another Android device running Google Play or YouTube for control; like the Apple TV, a USB port is included solely for service and support. In addition, it allows multiple Android users to add media to the device’s playlist. It is similarly available for pre-order now, and is priced at $299.

Apple wins ban on Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Apple has won a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in U.S. District Court. Foss Patents reports that Judge Lucy Koh entered the injunction at the close of business yesterday; Samsung has since filed a notice of appeal. The ruling is based on an iPad design patent, and states that “the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is ‘virtually indistinguishable’ from Apple’s iPad and iPad 2”. The injunction will go into effect as soon as Apple posts a $2.6 million bond.

Apple releases Podcasts app

Apple has released a new universal app dedicated to subscribing to, viewing and managing Podcasts on iOS devices. Dubbed simply Podcasts, the new app allows users to browse through hundreds of thousands of audio and video podcasts available in the iTunes Podcasts catalog, stream or download individual episodes for offline listening or subscribe to an entire podcast series. A Top Stations feature also provides a unique user interface with a quick view of the most popular podcasts, organized by topics such as arts, business, comedy, news and sports. A radio-like “Now Playing” screen with simple playback controls allow the user to easily skip forward and back and the app integrates with iTunes to access podcasts synced from an iTunes library in the traditional manner. The application also supports syncing episode bookmarks via iCloud for seamless playback between devices along with a built-in sleep timer and the ability to share favourite podcasts episodes via Twitter, Messages and Mail. Podcasts is a universal app requiring iOS 5.1 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. Syncing episodes requires iTunes 10.6.3 or later and streaming is supported over both Wi-Fi and cellular data connections.

Gmail app adds Notification Center support

Google has released an update to its official Gmail app for iOS adding Notification Center support. Although the Gmail app previously provided support for Push Notifications in the form of badge counts, it was missing more detailed per-message notifications found in the iOS 5 built-in Mail app. With the latest update, users can now receive individual new message alerts as banners, Notification Center entries and lock screen notifications. The update also improves support for the alternate sender feature that was added to the back-end web interface in March and adds persistent logins so that users are no longer required to re-authenticate every few days. Gmail 1.2.7812 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple seeds iOS 6 beta 2 update to developers

Apple has seeded developers with the first update to its iOS 6 beta. The update has yet to appear on Apple’s Developer web site, but is apparently available as an over-the-air update for those running the iOS 6 beta on their devices. Notably, the update weighs in at 322 MB for the iPhone 4S, 497 MB for the third-generation iPad, and the gears of the Settings icon seen on the update screen animate as the update is downloaded and installed. According to Apple, the update contains “bug fixes and improvements”, it is unclear what other changes might be included in the update. [via 9to5Mac]

iOS 6 Maps to boast Yelp check-in integration

Apple’s Maps application in iOS 6 will offer users the ability to check-in to Yelp directly from the app, according to a new report. Citing materials Apple distributed to software developers, Bloomberg reports that the integration—which will let users communicate with Yelp without exiting the map—may help Yelp challenge competing check-in services from Foursquare and Facebook. Apple already has a relationship with Yelp through Siri, and has also integrated the service’s reviews and photos into the iOS 6 Maps application.

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