Apple and China-based Proview have started talks aimed at resolving the ongoing legal dispute between the two companies over the iPad trademark. MacWorld UK reports that Ma Dongxiao, a lawyer representing Proview, said the talks were ongoing, but declined to share any details. The legal dispute between the two companies is still being deliberated by Chinese courts, but according to a court spokesman, the court earlier this week recommended that the companies find a way to mediate the dispute. Notably, Apple has yet to launch its third-generation iPad in China despite having received regulatory approval for the device; some have suggested that the ongoing trademark dispute may be behind Apple’s decision to temporarily withhold the device form the Chinese market.
The service formerly known as Read It Later has just received a major redesign and a new name: Pocket. Similar to—and actually predating—services such as Instapaper and Readability, Read It Later was one of the first services to allow users to save content from the web for offline reading, although it was not as widely adopted on the iOS platform due to the early lack of an official iOS app for the service.
Read It Later has now been rebranded across the board to Pocket, with a major refresh on both the web service end and the iOS app. Version 4.0 of the app has been redesigned from the ground up to provide a cleaner and lighter reading experience along with new features for viewing and organizing content. Pocket provides a whole new UI with content displayed in an easy visual layout specifically adapted for either the iPhone or iPad versions with fewer toolbars and a new full-screen mode that allows users to focus on the content rather than the app. Filters can now be used to switch between saved articles, videos and images and users can now bulk edit, favourite and tag items in their Pocket collection for quicker and easier organization. The update also adds improvements to syncing, downloading and sharing of content along with numerous bug fixes. Pocket is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple is testing a new system which would automatically backup the device of any customer seeking an iOS device exchange or replacement at an Apple Store Genius Bar, according to a new report. Citing retail sources, 9to5Mac reports that the system is based on a wireless server that would securely and temporarily store a user’s content locally, then automatically wipe the content once the device swap is made. The report indicates that this backup information could come from iCloud or the device itself, and that this solution is preferable to simply relying on an iCloud backup as the process of restoring from an iCloud backup is typically takes too long. The system is said to be in the very early stages of testing, and should it launch, Apple is planning to pilot the system in a few select store by mid-2013, with a full-scale launch coming later that year.
PopCap has released updates to Plants vs Zombies for both the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad adding a new game mode, additional mini-games and more new content. The latest update of Plants vs Zombies for iPhone adds a new “Vasebreaker Endless” mode that moves the former mini-game into the mainstream challenging players to survive nine unique levels as they battle zombies hiding in vases and compete for high scores in the Vasebreaker leaderboard.
In Plants vs Zombies HD for the iPad, users can also now relax and start their very own Zen Garden with a unique collection of plants that can be grown to collect rewards; users can find new plants in the game or get Marigolds and Mystery Sprouts to plant from Crazy Dave. Players can also now see how the other side lives with the new nine-level “I, Zombie Endless” game mode which challenges them to help the zombies get past the plants to their brainy rewards. The latest version also adds four new mini-games: Slot Machine, Zombiquarium, Portal Combat and Beghouled Twist with fun new challenges and adds four new achievements in the iPhone/iPod touch version and 28 new achievements for the iPad version. New coin packs are also now available for in-app purchase and language support has been added for French, Italian, German and Spanish. Plants vs Zombies is available from the App Store in two versions, Plants vs Zombies ($3) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Plants vs Zombies HD ($7) for the iPad.
FreshGames has released Cubis Creatures, an evolution of the highly acclaimed three-dimensional match-3 puzzler Cubis. The new game provides a completely refreshed mobile version of the title with a vibrant visual presentation for the iOS platform and advanced puzzles to challenge both new players and die-hard Cubis fans alike. Each level is individually crafted and provides unique gameplay with a dynamic cube queue that randomly presents an assortment of cubes and power ups that players must strategically use to clear each level. Players will also be able to compete in Cubis Daily Tournaments against other players around the world and Game Center integration provides tracking of achievements and leaderboards. The game includes 80 levels with additional level packs available via in-app purchase. Cubis Creatures is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $1. A free lite version is also available with 20 levels and a single character.
In celebration of Earth Day and National Parks Week, Fotopedia has released a new update to its National Parks app for iOS with support for the third-generation iPad Retina Display and a collection of new photos and visual stories. Fotopedia National Parks takes users on a visual exploration of the 58 National Parks across the U.S. with over 3,000 high-resolution images with point-of-interest descriptions throughout. The new version features a new Visual Stories section, published several times per week that provides a new way to experience the beauty and adventures of the National Parks in a magazine format.
The extraordinary image collection contained in the app is the result of a ten-year project by renowned photographer Quang-Tuan Luong who was the first person to photograph all 58 U.S. National Parks with a large format camera, travelling over 100,000 miles and producing extremely detailed photos that immerse the viewer in the landscapes. Users can navigate through the collection by searching or using smart tags and interactive maps as well as viewing instant slideshows and downloading free wallpapers; users can also mark photos as favourites to build their own personalized albums and share photos via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. The app also includes a trip planner and itinerary builder for planning a visit to any of the various National Parks. Fotopedia National Parks is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has released Configurator 1.0.1, the latest version of its mass deployment tool for iOS devices. Originally debuted in March, 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 1.0.1 improves overall stability and performance, and address a number of issues, including those related to the import and installation of .ipa files, redemption codes, note and bookmark deletion, WPA2 passwords, and backup name editing. Apple Configurator 1.0.1 is available now as a free download from the Mac App Store. [via MDN]
Intel and Microsoft have been working with first-tier PC vendors in an effort to develop new tablet PCs based on Windows 8, which the companies hope will drag the iPad’s global market share to below 50 percent by the middle of next year, according to a new report. Citing Taiwan-based ODMs, DigiTimes reports that 32 Windows 8 tablet PCs will be launched by HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asustek, and Toshiba by the end of 2012, with entry-level models to run under $300 and target Android tablet PCs, and models over $300 to be targeted directly at the iPad. The report claims that Microsoft will release Windows 8 for x86 platforms in September and Windows RT, a version built specifically for ARM architectures, at a later date. [via AppleInsider]
MumboJumbo has released a new iPad hidden object game, The Midnight Mysteries: Haunted Houdini. The fourth entry in the company’s long-running Midnight Mysteries adventure game series, Haunted Houdini takes players on a mystical journey where they must help the spirit of the famed illusionists wife Bess unravel the secrets of what really led to her husband’s death. Along the way, players will discover aspects of Houdini’s life such as his obsession with debunking mediums and his passing involvement with a vindictive secret society while they solve puzzles, adapt objects into tools and consult with famous ghosts such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Howard Thurston. The game provides highly detailed visuals and sound effects along with dozens of challenging puzzles to solve, story-driven hidden object scenes and a detailed hint system. Players can choose from three game modes with different levels of difficulty for the novice and experienced player alike. The Midnight Mysteries: Haunted Houdini is available from the App Store for $7 with an optional Collector’s Edition upgrade available via in-app purchase for $3. The Collector’s Edition adds an exclusive bonus chapter and game mode along with a detailed illustrated strategy guide and additional fan content such as wallpapers and sketch art.
Wolfgang Augustin has released Reader X, a new Google Reader client for iPad users. Taking an approach somewhere between traditional list-based news readers and magazine-style content aggregators, Reader X presents the user’s Google Reader news feed in a large, wallpaper-style grid. All headlines are displayed in a single view, with each feed presented as a horizontal stripe with items ordered chronologically; users swipe horizontally to browse through items in a single feed or vertically to browse down through additional feeds in their Google Reader account.
Colour coding is used to differentiate unread, starred and read items with colour gradients used to represent the age of each item—newer items use more vibrant, saturated colours while older items are more faded. Users can display only unread or starred items with a single tap or zoom into a feed by tapping its title to present the individual feed in a scrollable grid view. Reader X also provides options for starring, saving and sharing articles via e-mail, Readability, Instapaper, Read It Later, Pinboard, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. Users can also use Readability and Instapaper to render web pages for quick reading on the go. Reader X requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
Verizon Wireless today announced the latest expansion of its 4G LTE network, which will see coverage for more than two-thirds of the U.S. population when it goes live April 19. The expansion will include 27 new markets and the expansion of coverage in 44 other markets, for a total of 230 markets covered; Verizon plans to offer LTE service in more than 400 markets, covering 260 million people, by the end of the year. Apple included support for LTE data service in the third-generation iPad and is expected to include it in the next-generation iPhone.
“Verizon Wireless 4G LTE is the premier wireless data service in the nation, with more than six times the geographic coverage of our nearest competitor’s 4G LTE network and now available to more than two-thirds of the nation’s population,” said David Small, chief technical officer of Verizon Wireless. “We will continue to introduce new markets and expand covered markets to ensure even more wireless users across the United States can take advantage of the benefits that 4G LTE brings to consumers, small businesses and enterprises.”
Sensopia has released a major update to MagicPlan adding native iPad support with a new user interface and improvements to simplify the room capture process. MagicPlan is an augmented reality iOS app designed to simplify the creation of floor plans by using the camera and gyroscope to map out and measure rooms; the user simply stands in a convenient location in the room and uses the camera to capture corners and doorway edges which are then used to calculate the dimensions of the room and generate a floor plan. The process can be repeated in several rooms to create individual plans for each room that can be connected to each other to form a complete floor plan of the property. Resulting floor plans can be exported to PDF or JPEG or published on the web as interactive floor plans.
MagicPlan 2.0 is now a universal app providing an HD user interface specifically adapted to the iPad along with simplified navigation for the iPhone and iPod touch with new menus, auto-save features and a new graphical user interface. The new version also improves the room capture process adding a real-time view of captured corners and doors, a grid view for capturing hidden corners and additional visual identifiers and cues to help with the capture process. Room capturing is also now done in landscape mode and the floor plan is visually drawn while capturing. The update also includes numerous other bug fixes and improvements related to account management, annotating floor plans and more. MagicPlan requires an iPhone 4/4S, fourth-generation iPod touch, iPad 2 or third-generation iPad running iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. Non-commercial use is free and includes watermarks on published and exported floor plans; payment is required for commercial use at $2 per floor plan and removes all watermarks.
Apple plans to launch a smaller version of the iPad in the third-quarter of this year, according to a new report. Citing Chinese-language NetEase, Kotaku reports that the device will cost anywhere from $249-$299 and that there will be six million units ready for the launch. Based on prior reports, this smaller iPad would feature a screen roughly seven inches in size—7.85 inches has been specifically mentioned—and would target the smaller tablet market, which includes devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire. According to the report, both Foxconn and Pegatron will be involved in making the device.
Apple this morning announced that it will launch the third-generation iPad in 12 more countries this coming Friday, April 20. The device will launch in Brunei, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malaysia, Panama, South Korea, St Maarten, Uruguay and Venezuela this Friday. The following Friday, April 27, the device will launch in Colombia, Estonia, India, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, South Africa and Thailand.
In anticipation of the upcoming release of Marvel’s The Avengers movie, Disney Publishing Worldwide has released two new storybook apps based on the Marvel Origins series with narration by the legendary Stan Lee. In Avengers Origins: Hulk ($2), readers discover the story of Dr. Bruce Banner’s initial transformation into the Incredible Hulk accompanied by detailed artwork and animations. Interactive touch-screen activities add to the storyline with users able to perform Hulk actions such as testing their strength, breaking through walls and stopping tanks.
Avengers Origins: Assemble ($2) provides readers with an introduction to the pantheon of Marvel Super Heroes such as Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. The app tells the story of war-hero Captain America who is trapped in the frozen North after a particularly dangerous and must be rescued seven decades later to join with the other Avengers to fight for the future of Earth and defend the planet from evil. In addition to action-packed artwork, sound effects and music, the app includes a collection of interactive challenges for readers including matching heroic accessories with the appropriate Super Heroes, using Thor’s powers and the Hulk’s strength to stop the Atlanteans and Namor and melt in the ice to free Captain America from his frozen prison.
The two storybook apps are designed for readers of all ages and include Read to Me, Read by Myself, Auto-Turn and Younger Reader Modes for enjoyment by children as young as 4-10 years of age. Both apps are universal for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and require iOS 4.0 or later.
Google has updated Google Currents with several new features, also expanding its availability internationally with the latest release. Originally released in the U.S. only in December, Google Currents is a news content aggregation and reading app for iOS devices designed to provide magazine-style access to content from a wide range of publishers in format optimized for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. In addition to choose preselected content from major publications such as CNet, AllThingsD, Forbes, PBS and the Huffington Post, users can also add their own RSS, video and photo feeds.
Google Currents 1.1 is now available internationally in all countries where the App Store is available, translated into 44 different languages, with localized international content available for France, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and Australia. The update also adds a new Instant Sync feature to provide push-based content updates while on-line without having to manually press a sync button and expands options for reading offline with local image caching. Integration with Google Translate allows complete editions to be translated into the user’s preferred languages and users can now share content with select Google+ circles and customize their other preferred sharing services for quick access. Google Currents is available from the App Store as a free download.
Epic Games and Chair Entertainment have released Infinity Blade II: ClashMob the first major content update to the acclaimed iOS game. Available as a free update for Infinity Blade II, ClashMob introduces the ability to compete in cooperative challenge events online with friends; players can create a new mob and recruit friends via Facebook and Game Center or join an existing one to work with hundreds of other players to cooperatively take down enemies with vast amounts of health, gaining special perks, achievements and rewards exclusive to ClashMob. Multiplayer game play in ClashMob is uniquely asynchronous, meaning that players can fire up the game on their own schedule to participate in their own segment of the quest at any time.
Version 1.1 also adds a new Gem Forge allowing players to combine gems to create their own more powerful versions along with a dozen new weapons and other items to collect and master; a number of balance tweaks, optimizations and bug fixes have also been taken care of in this update. Infinity Blade II requires an iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad and is available from the App Store for $5. A Facebook account is required for the new ClashMob online play features.
Following the discovery that the third-generation Apple TV actually uses a new, 32nm dual-core revision of the A5 processor—with one of its cores disabled or otherwise non-functional—it has been revealed that new iPad 2 units are being built using the same processor. AnandTech reports that multiple references to the S5L8942 system-on-a-chip—the technical name for the revised A5—can be found in the iOS 5.1 restore image for “iPad2,4”, which refers to the new, $399 iPad 2. According to the report, performance is identical between the new A5 and the prior version found in older iPad 2 units; it remains unclear whether the new units are seeing any battery life benefit from the smaller chips.
American Public Media’s Marketplace has been allowed to shoot a short news clip showing the process of iPads being assembled at Foxconn’s Longhua facility in Shenzhen, China. Seen in the 2:35 clip are workers arriving at work, receiving their daily assignments, attaching motherboards and other components, and using a machine to press in the battery. According to the video, workers usually rotate their positions every few days, and see their $14/day starting salary doubled after a couple years. The video also highlights Foxconn’s facilities—relatively nice, compared to other factories—and also demonstrates how small a role automated machines play in the assembly of the iPad. The video is available for viewing in embedded form below.
The National Hockey League has updated the NHL GameCenter app for iOS adding new features to provide users with expanded coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The latest update features complete round-by-round coverage of the playoffs via enhanced series views as well as with expanded highlights of Stanley Cup Playoff games. Users can view free NHL Playoff videos with commentary, highlights and top moments as well as view free Cisco NHL Live video content and listen to free live game radio during the Playoffs. New Playoff game alerts are also now available for each series matchup and the update also adds general performance enhancements. NHL GameCenter 2011-2012 is available from the App Store as a free download; an NHL GameCenter subscription is required to access premium content beyond the free Playoff features.