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Apple announces third-generation iPad with Retina display

Apple today announced its third-generation iPad. As expected, the third-generation tablet features a 2048 x 1536 “Retina” display—for a total of 3.1 million pixels—and is powered by the new dual-core A5X processor with a quad-core graphics processor. According to the company, the new processor was “designed for Retina display”, and offers “four times the performance” of the Tegra 3 processor. Also new is a five-megapixel, backside-illuminated rear “iSight” camera sensor, with an IR filter, autofocus and auto white balance, face detection, 1080p video recording, and automatic video stabilization. Other new features include voice dictation, with support for US, British, and Australian English, French, German, and Japanese, 4G LTE networking, 10 hours of battery life, and a body that is slightly heavier at 1.4 lbs., and—as first reported by iLounge—slightly thicker at 9.4mm, compared to 8.8mm for the previous model.

Models equipped with wireless data now support 3.1 Mbps over EV-DO, 7.2 Mbps over HSPA, 21 Mbps on HSPA+, 42 Mbps over DC-HSDPA, and 73 Mbps over LTE networks; the latter will be supported at launch by Verizon, Rogers, Bell, Telus, and AT&T. Thanks to its faster internet connection, the iPad can now serve as a personal hotspot if the carrier supports it. The new iPad will keep the same pricing and capacities as previous models, with Wi-Fi-only units running $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for 64GB; 4G-capable units will cost $629, $729, and $829, respectively. Apple will begin taking pre-orders for the device today, with units shipping on March 16 in the United States, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. More international rollouts will follow on March 23 in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Galaxy on Fire 2 HD adds Valkyrie HD Expansion

Fishlabs has released the much-anticipated update to Galaxy on Fire 2 HD adding support for the Valkyrie HD expansion pack. Released last fall, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is an enhanced version of the popular original Galaxy on Fire 2 that has been optimized to take full advantage of the improved graphic capabilities of the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 along with support for synchronizing saved games via iCloud. The latest update brings the Valkyrie expansion pack to Galaxy on Fire 2 HD adding enhanced 3D models, console-quality visuals and increased textures, resolutions and effects to the original expansion.

The expansion continues the storyline of Keith T. Maxwell’s galactic adventures as he now attempts to unravel a conspiracy orchestrated by a mysterious and cunning new enemy. The new add-on provides new spaceships, weapons and equipment along with nine new planets across four solar systems and a new black market trading system. Users can also now purchase their own space station, the Kaamo Club, in order to store additional spaceships and valuable goods. Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is available from the App Store for $10 and is compatible with the iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad, although the enhanced graphics are only available on the iPhone 4S and iPad 2. The Valkyrie HD expansion is available as an in-app purchase for $5; users with the original Galaxy on Fire 2 standard edition installed on their device will receive the Valkyrie HD expansion for free when first opening the new version.

Apple offering settlements to Motorola, Samsung

Apple has proposed settlements to both Motorola Mobility and Samsung in an effort to end some pending litigation, Dow Jones Newswires reports. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report claims that Apple has asked for roughly 1 percent to 2.5 percent of net sales per device, or between $5 and $15 per handset. One person said that Apple isn’t looking to offer patent licenses to all competitors, nor is it seeking to create a royalty business. The report also suggests that Apple may be using its own patents as bargaining chips to reduce any penalties it might face as a result of negative court rulings related to standards-essential patents held by the two companies.

Russia reclassifies iPad as PC, drops 5% import tax

Russia’s Federal Customs Service has dropped the 5 percent import tax previously levied upon the iPad by changing the device’s classification from a “navigator” to a personal computer, according to a new report. Citing Russian language Vedomosti (Translated Link), AppleInsider reports the change was made due to the fact that 3G-equipped iPads include GPS hardware, while Wi-Fi-only models do not. The original article did not state whether the new policy draws a distinction between iPad models with GPS and those without, although the Customs Service did say that “other” tablets with GPS would still be classified as navigation devices and will thus be subject to the tax. The iPad 2 launched in Russia in May 2011.

ABC Family launches universal iOS app

ABC Family has launched a universal iOS app providing full, on-demand access to ABC Family television content on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Developed by the same team responsible for the ABC Player app, the new ABC Family app is designed to provide viewers with convenient and timely on-the-go access to the network’s popular content with free, ad-supported episodes form a variety of original series including Jane By Design, Make It or Break It, Switched at Birth, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

New episodes will typically be available via the app the day after airing on the television network—at the same time as they are posted online at ABCFamily.com. Links are also provided within the app to allow users to purchase and download their favourite episodes directly from the iTunes Store. The universal ABC Family app also provides some additional unique features such as the ability save playback positions within an episode across multiple iOS devices; the app is also the first from the Disney/ABC Television Group to support closed captioning. ABC Family requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download. Video streaming is available only to users physically located in the United States and its territories.

Next iPad available March 16, second event planned?

Apple will launch its next-generation iPad on March 16, according to a new report. Citing a reliable Apple Store source, 9to5Mac reports that preparations are being made for a large Apple Store event culminating on Friday, March 16, which suggests that Apple plans to make the third-generation tablet available on that date. Apple is said to be planning two notable Apple Store openings for that day, and Verizon Wireless has also started teasing an upcoming product or announcement with a “Something is Coming” message on its website. In addition, the report states that there is expected to be a “subsequent event” a week later, which could represent the launch of a revamped Apple TV, or additional international launches of the iPad.

Melcher Media releases Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days

Melcher Media, creators of the bestselling interactive book app Al Gore: Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, have released a new iPad app for Monty Python fans, Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days. Released in conjunction with the Blu-ray debut of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the interactive app provides a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the troupe’s second feature film. Melcher Media worked with John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin to provide an immersive experience for Python enthusiasts as the group takes fans along on their foolhardy quest to make an epic film in just 28 days.

Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days includes an exclusive collection of previously unreleased outtakes, rehearsals, raw audio recordings, songs, sound effects, scripts, dozens of stills and more, while also adding new illustrations, animations and the story of the filming told in the Pythons’ own words. Packed with Python history, the app includes content such as Michael Palin’s day-by-day diary of the filming, Terry Gilliam’s storyboards, the original continuity sheets covering every shot and 360-degree views of actual props and costumes from the movie.

In addition the app can also function as a rich second screen companion when used in conjunction with the new Blu-ray version of the film. Using a supported Blu-ray player synced via Wi-Fi the iPad can be used as a remote control to jump to the specific scenes in the movie that users are browsing through and reading about in the app. For a limited time, Sony is also offering a $5 mail-in rebate when consumers purchase both the Blu-ray and iPad app. Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

Next-gen iPad to be named ‘iPad HD’?

Apple will not call the next-generation iPad the iPad 3 as many had expected, according to a new report. Citing a developer who’s previously provided reliable information, Cnet reports that Apple will instead use the moniker iPad HD, calling deliberate attention to the device’s high-resolution screen. A separate report from Gizmodo, posted last week, included an alleged list of upcoming cases from Griffin Technology listed as being for the iPad HD, and the name has been seen in application usage reports, as well. The report goes on to note that both the iPadHD.com and iPadHD.co.uk domains appear to be registered by companies other than Apple; Apple is expected to unveil its next-generation iPad at a special media event being held tomorrow in San Francisco.

iPad 3 shipments affecting China to US air freight rates

Two separate reports have indicated that massive shipments of next-generation iPad units from China to the United States have resulted in price hikes and reduced capacity for air freight carriers. Citing an anonymous source, AppleInsider reports that the price of shipping air cargo from China to the U.S. via DHL have seen a “big change” as Apple has taken up capacity on such flights for iPad units. In a separate report, MacRumors cites a shipping representative as saying that shipping rates have risen as much as 20 percent in a single week; the representative added that his freight broker in China has had trouble finding space for his company’s shipments, as Apple has taken up available capacity, and done so at “premium rates”. Both reports note that the timing and quantity of the shipments suggests that Apple plans to launch the next-generation iPad soon after its expected introduction on Wednesday.

US Air Force to buy as many as 18,000 iPads

The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $9.36 million contract to a Phoenix-based computer services company which will use the money to purchase as many as 18,000 iPad 2 units. Bloomberg reports that the Air Force is purchasing 32GB Wi-Fi models, which will be used as replacements for paper manuals and navigation charts used by pilots and navigators. “Aircrews fly nonstop worldwide missions and require access to flight publications both on and off the aircraft, throughout all phases of flight,” said military spokeswoman Captain Kathleen Ferrero. The contract allows for the purchase of as many as 18,000 units within the next year, although the final total will be “contingent upon funding requests and approval”.

Hi-res iPads running iOS 6 appear in server logs

iPad models sporting a resolution of 2048 x 1536 have been spotted in the server logs of a notable website. Ars Technica reports that while doing research for its monthly browser that report, it found multiple hits from devices reported to be running iOS 6, with a newer build of WebKit—535.8—than the current version, which is listed as 534.46. In addition, it found 346 visits from a device with a screen resolution of 2048 x 1536, widely believed to be the resolution of the next-generation iPad’s Retina display. As noted in the report, very few devices in current use have the same resolution. Apple is expected to unveil the next-generation iPad on March 7; iOS 6 is unlikely for a release on that date, and while a brief preview is possible, Apple last year waited until its WWDC conference to unveil iOS 5.

Flipboard adds Cover Stories for iPad, International Content Guides

Flipboard has released an update to its iOS news and social media aggregation app adding support for Cover Stories in the iPad edition and improving discovery for international users. Designed to provide users with a personalized collection of their news and social feeds, Flipboard collects information from major media publications as well as social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and presents the information in a rich appealing magazine style view. Flipboard 1.8 brings iPad users the Cover Stories view made popular in the iPhone edition, delivering a personalized feed of each day’s most interesting news, photos and updates. New International Content Guides in the latest version provide users with hundreds of recommendations for content from the U.K. and Ireland, Canada, Australia, France, Hong Kong, and Taiwan; the feature is joined by full French language support throughout the app and a new easy setup feature that lets new users pick topics of interest and get started more quickly. The update also adds a third page of tiles for users’ favourite content and new typography and photo layouts for even more display options. Flipboard 1.8 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Reflection offers AirPlay Mirroring from iOS to Mac

Reflection, a new application for Mac, promises to let users of the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 use AirPlay Mirroring to wirelessly stream their device’s content to their Macs. Features of the software include the ability to add show an iPhone or iPad frame around the streamed content, the ability to run in full-screen mode, force portrait or landscape orientation, and the ability to serve as an AirPlay audio receiver; audio is automatically sent when using Mirroring. Reflection supports OS X 10.6 or later and requires an iPhone 4S or iPad 2 for screen mirroring; it is available now as a free time-limited trial, while a full license sells for $15.

Discussion of Retina iPad outlines potential dev hardships

Kevin Ng, the developer behind the label Pixels on Toast, has posted an interesting discussion of the challenges facing game developers should the next iPad launch with a 2048 x 1536 Retina display. Ng notes that such a high-resolution screen will require four times the video memory, and will also require much larger assets, which could make the current 20MB 3G download size cap that much of a hassle, if not downright untenable; he suggests the limit will be raised for iPad apps should the next iPad launch with a Retina display.


100% crop of Food Run on non-Retina display

Ng also raises questions regarding the artwork required for high-resolution games. “So the question that us iOS developers are asking ourselves is, are we ready for this?”, Ng asks. “Not all iOS developers make their artwork using vectors. Many of the more hand-drawn titles will have pixel-based source art, meaning that unless they were working in high resolution to begin with, there is going to have to be a lot of reworking to fully support the new displays.”

 


100% crop of Food Run output at 2048 x 1536

He continues, “Titles using 3D graphics will be in a better state of readiness than bitmap games. It’s likely that just a few lines of code will enable these games to run on the new display. However, for best results, games developers are going to have to raise the resolutions of their textures, otherwise the 3D models will look smeary, albeit with sharply defined silhouettes.” Ng notes that games that are 2D vector in nature, including his upcoming title Food Run, are in the best shape, as they are already Retina capable. Apple is widely expected to include a Retina display in the next iPad, which it will announce at a special media event on March 7.

Readability releases official iOS app

Offline web reading service Readability has released an official native iOS application. The free universal app allows Readability users to sync and access their saved web articles on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad while on the go. Designed to focus on simplicity, the application provides a clean, minimalist reading interface with impressive typography and intuitive gesture controls for managing and navigating content. Users can access and manage their current reading list as well as starred and archived items and can share items to Facebook and Twitter from directly within the app.

Readability originally attempted to release a native iOS application last year, but the app was rejected by Apple for not using the App Store’s in-app purchasing for its Premium subscription service. Instead, Readability continued as a web-based application specifically optimized for the iPhone and iPad Safari browser and the company partnered with other developers to provide Readability integration into other news and reading apps such as Reeder, Pulse, Longform and Early Edition 2. It is also worth noting that earlier this year the company changed its subscription model to remove the requirement for a paid subscription to access the full set of Readability features; instead subscriptions are now voluntary donations to support the Readability service and writers. Readability is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 or late and is available from the App Store as a free download.

MLB At Bat goes universal, free with IAP subscription

MLB.com has relaunched its MLB.com at Bat iOS app for the 2012 season as a single free universal app for both the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad, implementing in-app subscriptions for paid features. In prior seasons, MLB provided separate apps for the iPhone/iPod touch and the iPad, sold individually for $15 each, requiring fans to either choose to use the app on a single platform or purchase both individually. The 2012 version of the app is now packaged into a single universal app available as a free download; rather than requiring payment up front for the app users can instead sign up for an At Bat 12 subscription via in-app purchase or simply log in to their MLB.com account to use their existing MLB.TV Premium subscription.

The At Bat 12 subscription is priced at $15 for the entire season or $3 per month and provides live game day audio with no blackouts for any home or away broadcast, pitch tracking, league stats and in-game highlights. Subscribers can also watch a live stream of the selected Game of the Day and access Live Lookins on other games in progress. MLB.TV Premium subscribers can also view live and on-demand video of any out-of-market game simply by logging into their MLB.com account, although the usual blackout restrictions apply; MLB.TV Basic subscribers must still purchase an At Bat 12 subscription separately, however. The MLB.com At Bat app can also be used without a subscription to track up to the minute scores, and access news, game schedules, team rosters, venue information and tickets and promotions. MLB.com At Bat requires an iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple, Google sued over iOS Maps’ Street View

Apple and Google have been sued by Florida-based PanoMap over the iOS’ implementation of Google Maps’ Street View feature. PaidContent reports that the complaint, filed in federal court in Orlando, claims that implementation violates a PanoMap patent related to an “Interactive system for displaying detailed view and direction in panoramic images”. The suit seeks damages with interest from both parties, as well as attorney fees and costs.

From the patent abstract: “A method and system for indicating the camera position, direction, and field of view in a map or panoramic image comprises a map image window which displays a map or panoramic image of the site to be studied (house, apartment, city, etc.). A detailed view window displays a portion of the map image, taken from a point in the site. A highlighted sector in the map image represents the viewing position, direction, and field of view that the detailed view window displays. When the user changes the field of view in the detailed view window, the highlighted sector in the map image changes in synchronism. The resulting interactive windows allow a person to easily and quickly view and understand the field of view, position, and direction of the image being displayed in the detail view window.” [via TUAW]

Apple confirms iPad 3 event for March 7

image

As expected, Apple has sent out invitations to select members of the media inviting them to a special event on March 7. The image accompanying the invitation features a finger reaching out to touch the Calendar icon on a noticeably high-resolution iPad screen, and the tagline “We have something you really have to see. And touch”. Notably, no Home button is seen on the device, although it may simply be rotated to the side. Apple is expected to unveil the third-geneartion iPad at the event; the device is expected to feature a Retina Display with four times the pixels, as well as 4G LTE connectivity and a new chipset, all in an almost unnoticeably thicker shell that we first saw at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. The event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco and will start at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Apple working on A6, A5X chips simultaneously?

Citing code found in a beta version of iOS 5.1, a new report claims that Apple is simultaneously developing its next-generation A6 processor, as well as an “A5X” variant of the A5 processor that currently powers the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. 9to5Mac reports that the code makes reference to both an “S5L8950X” chip—said to be the A6—and an “S5L8945X” chip, which is said to be the A5X. For reference, the original A4 was referred to as “S5L8930X”, and the A5 “S5L8940X”. A later report from the same outlet suggests that the A5X will find its way into the next-generation Apple TV, while the A6 will power the next-generation iPad.

Best Buy drops iPad 2 price by $50 as replacement looms

Best Buy is now offering a substantial discount on the iPad 2 ahead of the expected announcement of the next-generation model. A brief check of the retailer’s website shows that all models of iPad 2—including white and black models of all capacities, and Wi-Fi as well as Wi-Fi + 3G—are $50 off their standard retail price, with prices now starting at $450 and ranging up to $780. Apple is widely expected to announce its next-generation iPad next week at a special media event in San Francisco.

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