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AT&T announces new data plans for iPhone, iPad

AT&T has announced new data plans for smartphone and tablet customers that will affect both iPhone and iPad users. The new smartphone data plans include AT&T Data Plus 300MB, which includes 300MB of monthly data for $20, AT&T Data Pro 3GB, which offers 3GB for $30, and AT&T Data Pro 5GB, which offers 5GB for $50 and also includes mobile hotspot tethering. Customers on the latter two plans can pay $10 per additional gigabyte, while Data Plus customers get an extra 300MB for $20. For the iPad, AT&T DataConnect 3GB includes 3GB for $30, while AT&T DataConnect 5GB runs $50 and includes 5GB of data. All five new plans will launch this Sunday, January 22; existing customers will have the choice of keeping their current plans or choosing from one of the new options.

Apple education event to focus on content, K-12 market

Apple’s education event, scheduled for tomorrow in New York City, will focus on broadening the education content available for the iPad, with an emphasis on the K-12 market, according to a new report. Citing two people with knowledge of the announcement, Bloomberg reports that Apple will announce a set of tools to make it easier to publish interactive textbooks and other digital educational content. In addition to making more content available, Apple also hopes to empower “self-publishers” to create new kinds of teaching tools, likely based on a modified version of the ePub standard. A report form earlier this week suggested that Apple would adopt the ePub 3 standard in such a tool, allowing for easier creation of interactive, multimedia-rich content.

iPad 3 announcement coming in early February?

Apple plans to hold a special event in early February to debut the iPad 3, according to a new report. Citing an Asian supplier and a source in the U.S., Macotakara reports that Apple is prepared to hold a special event in early February, at which it will debut both the next-generation iPad as well as iOS 5.1, which is currently in developer beta testing. The report claims that due to the Chinese New Year, the next iPad would not be released until early March, leaving a month-long gap between the product’s announcement and its release; last year, Apple debuted the iPad 2 on March 2nd, then released the device to stores on March 11, making for a debut-to-release gap of only nine days. [via BGR]

Apple working with McGraw-Hill, to launch ‘GarageBand’ for textbooks?

Apple has been working with McGraw-Hill and potentially other publishers on a digital interactive textbook initiative that it is expected to launch at its special event on Thursday, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that McGraw-Hill has been working with Apple on the announcement since June, and may have been joined in participation by Pearson and Houghton Mifflin. Cengage Learning, a leader in higher-education textbooks, has partnered with Apple in the past and will also be attending the event. “Apple today clearly has a strong position in hardware, and companies like Cengage Learning have a very strong position on the content side,” said Bill Rieders, Cengage executive vice president of global strategy and business development. “To the extent there’s a combination there, that could be exciting.”

In a separate report, Ars Technica also suggests that Apple is working on digital textbooks, but instead suggests that Apple will announce support for the more robust ePub 3 standard in iBooks moving forward, as well as a new tool for creating ePub 3- compliant e-books. Referring to the tool as “GarageBand for e-books”, the report cites former Apple education employee and current CEO of digital textbook house Inkling Matt MacInnis as expecting such a tool. “That’s what we believe you’re about to see,” MacInnis told Ars, a statement that was agreeable to the report’s other sources. “Publishing something to ePub is very similar to publishing web content. Remember iWeb? That iWeb code didn’t just get flushed down the toilet—I think you’ll see some of [that code] repurposed.” Late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs was known to have been involved with the initiative, and according to the report worked on this project for several years.

IDG: iPad replacing laptop for over 10% of business users

According to a new report from IDG Connect, the iPad is replacing laptops for over 10% business users. The global survey finds that the iPad has completely replaced the laptops of 16 percent of IT and business professionals worldwide, and has partly replaced the laptop for another 54 percent. 91 percent of IT decision-makers said they use their work at least on a partial basis, while 79 percent said they “always” use their iPads “on the move”. Not surprisingly, web browsing is the most popular activity performed by professionals on the device, with 79 percent saying they “always” use their iPad for that task, followed by reading with 76 percent, news consumption with 73 percent, work communication with 54 percent, and social media with 44 percent.

Verizon: LTE a ‘hard requirement’ moving forward

Speaking with Cnet, Keith Lampron, associate director of device marketing with Verizon, has said that the company will require LTE on all new smartphones and tablet devices launched on the network in the future. Calling LTE a “hard requirement”, Lampron said the only exception will be for phones on Verizon’s push-to-talk network, which will be 3G-only until further notice. Apple has yet to announce any LTE-compatible devices, but the statement by Verizon strongly suggests that any future iPhone and iPad devices with cellular data capabilities will be able to connect to the 4G network.

Siri dictation for iPad referenced in iOS 5.1 beta 3

Apple’s newly-released iOS 5.1 beta 3 contains references to Siri dictation on the iPad, according to a new report. Citing self-proclaimed hacker Sonny Dickson, 9to5Mac reports that the beta contains a new section in the keyboard menu labeled “About Privacy and Dictation” that, when tapped, displays standard legal and feature information for Siri dictation. As noted in the report, this menu item does not appear on the iPhone 4S, but is instead found under the Siri preferences and covers both Siri and its dictation feature, suggesting that its appearance on the iPad is not the result of the code accidentally being carried over from the iPhone 4S.

Apple seeds iOS 5.1 beta 3 to developers

Apple this morning seeded its registered iOS developers with the third beta version of iOS 5.1. According to Apple’s sparse release notes state simply that the release contains “bug fixes and improvements”. The update is currently available as an OTA Software Update for devices already running iOS 5.1 beta 2, and will likely be available shortly to registered iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Corning details Gorilla Glass 2: 20% thinner

Corning has, as promised, announced details of its new Gorilla Glass 2 material, the second-generation of the damage-resistant cover glass used in iOS devices. According to the company, Gorilla Glass 2 enables up to a 20 percent reduction in glass thickness, while retaining the same damage- and scratch-resistance as the original. Corning claims that the new material will allow for slimmer devices, brighter images, and greater touch sensitivity. While Gorilla Glass 2 will debut on Windows-based PCs, the company claims that a number of its global customers are expected to unveil new devices using it in the coming months.

Code found in iOS 5.1 points to quad-core chips

New code found within iOS 5.1 suggests that Apple is currently working on iOS devices with quad-core chips. According to 9to5Mac, iOS 5.1 includes updated processing-core management software that makes references to an option of “/cores/cores.3”, which according to people with knowledge of iOS’ inner workings, refers to a four-core chip, as “cores.0” refers to a single-core device, and “cores.1” to a dual-core chip. As noted in the report, the presence of this reference in iOS 5.1 suggests that the next-generation iPad, which is likely being tested using the software, will feature a quad-core processor. iLounge’s Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz, citing a reported yesterday that the device is likely to be launched around the same time as the iPad 2 was a year ago; the iPad 2 was launched on March 11.

GameStop sees ‘strong’ interest in iOS trade program

GameStop has announced that the company’s trade-in program for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad has seen “strong consumer enthusiasm” in the months it has been available. “The velocity of this trade program has exceeded our expectations,” stated GameStop president Tony Bartel. “We expect to see strong post-holiday traffic as customers trade in older models that were replaced by gifts.” Through the program, customers receive up to $180 in store credit for an iPod touch, up to $300 for an iPhone, and up to $400 for an iPad. Thanks to the success of the program, the company expects to continue to expand the availability of GameStop refurbished devices. [via Joystiq]

iLounge’s Starrett releases Scribe app for iOS

iLounge Senior Editor Charles Starrett has released his first iOS application, Scribe. An advanced text editor for the iPhone and iPad, Scribe is designed for users who write content for the web, with easy HTML markup features accessible directly from the iOS context menus. The application provides a clutter-free user interface with an iPhone/iPad-optimized version of the font Anonymous Pro; users can save files locally, or take advantage of iCloud and Dropbox support for syncing files between multiple iOS devices. Scribe also offers full Markdown support for users who prefer that syntax to HTML, while providing the same menu options as HTML markup. Additional features include integrated support for TextExpander, AirPrint, sending of documents via e-mail, and word/character/line counts. Scribe is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $3.

Evernote releases Skitch for iPad

Evernote has released Skitch for iPad, an iOS adaptation of the popular annotation and drawing app, Evernote Skitch for Mac. Skitch for iPad allows users to import photos from the iOS photo library or capture them with the iPad 2 camera and then annotate and markup the photos with integrated drawing tools. Skitch also recognizes recently-captured screenshots from the photo library and places them in a separate category for quick access and provides an integrated web browser and map view to allow users to easily take snapshots of web pages and maps that can then be marked up and saved in the same manner as any other stored image. Skitch includes a variety of touchscreen-optimized drawing tools including a finger tool for manipulating drawn objects, a freehand pencil tool, arrow and shape tools as well as text annotation and cropping options. Drawings and annotations are automatically saved within the Skitch for iPad app but can also be saved directly into Evernote or shared via Twitter or e-mail; AirPlay mirroring is also fully supported on the iPad 2 allowing drawings to be displayed on a larger screen via an Apple TV. Skitch for iPad requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. AirPlay and camera features require an iPad 2. An iPhone version is currently under development.

Kindle app adds magazines, PDF document support

Amazon has released an update to its Kindle app for iOS devices adding magazine support for iPad users and document support for all iOS devices. Kindle 2.9 on the iPad now introduces a new interface for reading magazines on the device, providing iPad users with access to Amazon’s catalog of over 400 magazines and newspapers for the Kindle Fire, displayed in full colour pages. Users can purchase single issues or subscribe to magazines and newspapers and have them wirelessly delivered to the Kindle app on the iPad. The iPad version also provides a new layout for reading print replica textbooks that preserves the original formatting of the actual print editions along with support for notes and highlights, zoom and pan and a linked table of contents.

The latest Kindle app update also now allows all iOS devices to receive e-mailed documents in the same manner as the Kindle devices and introduces the ability to open PDFs from Mail, Safari and other supported iOS apps or sync PDF documents to and from the Kindle app over USB via iTunes File Sharing. The integrated Kindle PDF reader provides the PDF table of contents and thumbnail navigation to allow users to quickly navigate through PDF documents. Kindle 2.9 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple offering free next-day holiday shipping

Apple is now offering free next-day shipping on many online orders in the United States. According to Apple’s holiday shipping page, non-engraved iPads and iPods, the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, non-customized and popular iMac configurations, and the Apple TV can all be ordered today for arrival by December 24, thanks to the free next day shipping offer. For all other products, customers are advised to check their cart for expected delivery dates.

Explosion at Apple supplier Pegatron injures 61

An explosion at a Shanghai factory owned by a subsidiary of Apple manufacturing partner Pegatron has left 61 workers injured and may threaten to constrain iPad 2 supplies for next quarter. Reuters reports that the blast, which occurred at a factory belonging to Riteng Computer Accessory Co., did not cause a fire, but did injure many, with 23 of the injured requiring hospitalization. According to the report, the plant had not started operations yet, but was expected to produce back panel parts for the iPad 2, and if the safety concerns can’t be overcome quickly, Apple’s supply chain for next quarter could be affected. “Our hearts go out to the people who were hurt in Songjiang,” said Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu. “We are working closely with Pegatron to understand the cause of this accident”.

Samsung shifts A5 production to Texas

Samsung is now manufacturing A5 processors—which are included in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2—in a Texas facility. Citing people familiar with the operation, Reuters reports that the facility, located in Austin, is roughly 1.6 million square feet in size, and began supplying A5 chips to Apple earlier this year, hitting full production in December. According to the report, the A5 is built in a newly constructed $3.6 billion non-memory chip production line; Samsung also produces NAND flash chips in the facility.

Rockstar Games releases Grand Theft Auto 3

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Grand Theft Auto III, Rockstar Games has released an iOS version of the highly acclaimed console and PC title. Grand Theft Auto 3 for iOS takes players back into the dark and seedy underworld of Liberty City, with a massive and diverse open world that players can explore at will and a wide variety of characters to interact with in an immersive storyline. The game includes redesigned HD graphics designed to take full advantage of the latest iOS device capabilities alongside high-quality voice acting and touch-screen optimized controls. Grand Theft Auto 3 requires an iPhone 4/4S, iPad 2 or fourth-generation iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

Gmail for iOS adds Scribbles

Google has released an update to its native Gmail app for iOS adding several new features including support for nested labels, mobile signatures and vacation messages, and a new “scribbles” feature. With Gmail 1.1 nested labels now appear laid out properly in the left-hand labels view and users can configure Mobile Signature and Vacation Responder settings directly from their device by clicking on a small gear settings icon at the top of the menu view. The update also adds a new notification sound for iOS 5 devices to help users distinguish Gmail notifications from other iOS notifications. The update also adds a new feature dubbed “scribbles” that allows users to open up a canvas to draw a message using the touchscreen that will be attached to an e-mail. Scribbles provides multiple colours, brush sizes, lines, erasers and spray paint and can also be accessed from the HTML5 Gmail web app. Gmail 1.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.

Netflix 2.0 debuts new iPad UI

Netflix has released a major update to the iOS app for its video streaming service bringing its redesigned tablet user interface to the iPad. Originally announced last month and initially released for Android tablets, the new interface is designed to improve access to the Netflix catalog by displaying more titles on a given screen with a more attractive presentation. Multitouch gestures are also now supported allowing users to swipe through rows of titles with larger artwork, providing an experience similar to the iTunes Store. The update also brings Netflix availability to Latin America for both the iPhone and iPad versions and addresses several stability issues. Netflix 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.

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