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Instapaper adds automatic Dark mode, new sharing options

Marco Arment has released a major update to his Instapaper offline reader application for iOS devices, making several UI and performance improvements and adding new sharing options. Instapaper 2.3 adds article preview text to the list view on the iPhone and iPod touch similar to that found in the iPad version, while also adding slightly longer preview text for the iPad. New indicators in the article listing now display the approximate length of each article as well as the relative progress using a row of dots. The iPhone version also adds support for toggling Dark Mode from within an article, and a new option is now available on both platforms to automatically switch the display to Dark mode at night based on the sunset times in the user’s area as determined by the device’s location. The update also adds several new sharing options including the ability to send links to OmniFocus and QuickReader as well as copy links or article text to the iOS clipboard. Other new features include performance improvements in the iPad version, simplified bookmarklet installation and the addition of an “ihttp” URL scheme for sending web pages to Instapaper without requiring the bookmarklet. Instapaper 2.3 is available from the App Store for $5.

Evernote adds multiple image support, audio recording improvements

Evernote has released an update to its universal cloud note storage app for iOS devices. Evernote 3.4 now provides users with the ability to select multiple images from their device’s photo library for adding to a single note or creating multiple snapshot notes rather than needing to add images one at a time. The update also offers several improvements to audio note recordings, increasing the maximum recording time for a single note to 90 minutes and adding playback, pause and replay controls both within the app and via background iOS 4 audio controls. Additional new features include iOS 4 “Open In” support allowing users to send PDFs and text files from Safari, Mail and other compatible third-party apps directly into Evernote and AirPrint support for printing notes directly from Evernote to a network printer. Evernote is a universal app for both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple teams with Dentsu Group on iAds in Japan

Apple has announced a partnership with marketing firm The Dentsu Group to expand Apple’s iAd mobile advertising platform to Japan early next year. According to the announcement, Dentsu will handle the selling and creative execution of iAds in Japan, while Apple will host, target and deliver the iAds to its iOS users. In addition, Dentsu subsidiary cyber communications, inc. (cci) will provide one-stop services for iAd in Japan including creative production and media planning.

“After an incredibly successful launch in the US where we’ve already doubled the number of brands on the network, we’re excited to bring iAd to Japan,” said Andy Miller, Apple’s vice president of iAd. “Dentsu is one of the world’s most prestigious advertising agencies, making them an ideal partner for iAds in Japan.”

“We’re thrilled to be joining with Apple to introduce such a powerful new ad platform in Japan,” said Ryuichi Mori, Senior Executive Vice President, Dentsu Inc. “Mobile advertising is Japan’s fastest-growing platform and iAd’s rich media experience and engaged audience of iPhone and iPod touch users make it uniquely positioned to capture mobile’s full potential for advertisers and developers.”

Urban Apps releases All Recalls

Urban Apps, developer of the highly acclaimed Ambiance noise generator, has released a new app, All Recalls that provides iPhone and iPod touch users with quick and easy access to product recall notices and information from five major U.S. Government Agencies. The application provides a combined list of product recall announcements from the Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product Safety Organization, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Users can view details and images for any recall notice, view recalls by product category and link to specific manufacturers and organizations. The application includes recall data as far back as 1969 complete with the original recall notices and users can bookmark recalls for later and share them on Facebook or Twitter from within the app. The application also provides HD images for Retina Display capable devices. The standard version of All Recalls is ad-supported and available from the App Store as a free download; a Pro upgrade is available via in-app purchase for $1 that removes advertising and adds the ability to search the Recall Database and receive realtime alerts for new recalls.

Chillingo launches real location-based MMORPG

Chillingo has launched My Kingdom, a unique massively multiplayer online role-playing game that uses players’ real-world locations as part of the game play experience. In My Kington players start off as simple merchants and must establish settlements and explore territory within the game based on actual real-world locations as determined by the GPS/location services in their device. Players trade commodities by moving around and visiting other locations in the real world that corresponding to virtual locations in the game, claiming new unexplored territories and visiting villages and settlements created by other players. The game includes over 40 different kinds of land types ranging from jungles and deserts to extinct volcanoes and arctic tundra. Players expand their empire and rise to power by exploring and claiming more territory, producing goods and earning gold. As players advance in the game they rise in rank and can build a wider variety of buildings within their kingdoms and even recruit an army to demand allegiance from other players. Players can also earn achievements and reputation in one of four guilds within the game: The Traders Guild, The Explorers Guild, The Manufacturers Guild or the Thieves Guild. Game Center support is included for tracking leaderboard positions and achievements. My Kingdom is available from the App Store as a free download.

BofA, Citi testing iPhones for corporate e-mail

Both Bank of America and Citigroup are currently running trials with the iPhone as they decide whether to allow employees to use the iPhone as an alternative to RIM’s BlackBerry for corporate e-mail. Citing three people familiar with the plans, Bloomberg reports that the companies are testing software designed to make it secure enough for company messaging. “People are delighted with their iPhones and Android phones and they want to use them for work,” said Roger Entner, head of telecom research at Nielsen Co. “The result is RIM now has real competition for corporate customers.”

The report states that both trials involve more than 1,000 employees; testing at Bank of America is said to be in advanced stages and will likely be followed by a pilot project prior to wider implementation. Both companies are also said to be testing Android-based devices for the same purposes. In addition to Bank of America and Citigroup, the report claims that JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS are considering letting using employees use iPhones for corporate e-mail, while Standard Chartered Bank said in May that it was switching from BlackBerry to the iPhone and expects to have 15,000 of the devices deployed by the end of 2010.

T-Mobile: Lack of iPhone costing customers

Reporting its third quarter fiscal results, T-Mobile U.S. parent Deutsche Telekom at least partially blamed the company’s lack of the iPhone for its struggles to keep contract customers. The Wall Street Journal reports that it cost T-Mobile in the U.S. $87 to keep an existing subscriber, up from $58 the year-ago quarter, while it paid out an average of $134 to acquire a new customer, up from $116 a year earlier. Still, the company lost 60,000 contract customers during the period, which Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann blamed on the iPhone. “Consumers like T-Mobile but they also want to have the iPhone,” which the company has no chance of getting in the short term, he said. The company also lost iPhone exclusivity in its home market of Germany, but the company feels it has more compelling offerings than rivals, and seems unconcerned by the loss.

CBC Radio app adds background audio, iPad support

CBC Radio has released a major update to its free streaming radio application for iOS devices, adding background audio and native iPad support. The CBC Radio application provides both live and on-demand streaming audio from CBC Radio One, Radio 2 and Radio 3 and on-demand audio from CBC TV programs including The Hour, CBC News At Issue Panel and Mansbridge One on One. Version 2.0 adds supports for background audio and fast app switching on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices, including support for remote audio controls and the ability to resume playback automatically following interruptions such as phone calls. An updated player screen provides artist bios when available for the current track. Users can also browse and search through over 100,000 tracks from over 20,000 Canadian Indie artists in the embedded CBC Radio 3 website, and share audio links via e-mail, Twitter and Facebook from right within the app. Additional new features include automatic switching between high- and low-quality streams for Wi-Fi and 3G network use, an option to automatically play on startup and an alarm timer. CBC Radio 2.0 is now a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

IDC: Smartphone market grows as Apple grabs second spot

According to the latest research released by IDC, worldwide smartphone shipments increased 89.5 percent year-over-year in the third-quarter of 2010, to 81.1 million units. While Nokia continues to hold the top spot in the worldwide smartphone market with 32.5 percent of all shipments, Apple’s Q3 shipments of 14.1 million iPhones — good for a year-over-year unit shipment increase of 90.5 percent — were enough to vault it past BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) into second place with a 17.4 percent share of the market. RIM ranked third with 15.3 percent of the market, followed by Samsung with 8.9 percent, and HTC with 7.2 percent.

Space Invaders Infinity Gene goes universal

Taito Corporation has released a universal update to Space Invaders Infinity Gene adding Game Center integration and a new Survival game mode. An evolution of the classic Space Invaders arcade game, Space Invaders Infinity Gene 4.0 adds native iPad support and support for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch Retina Display with an improved frame rate that provides better performance. The update also adds a new Survival mode that allows multiple Extra and Chimera stages to be played in sequences with branching stages and multiple endings. Version 4.0 also adds integration with Apple’s Game Center and OpenFeint allowing users to share top scores on leaderboards from either service as well as unlocking achievements. Space Invaders Infinity gene is available from the App Store for $5.

Apple sued over iPhone 3G performance under iOS 4

A California woman has filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the company committed false advertising and unfair business practices by encouraging iPhone 3G users to download iOS 4. Wired reports that Bianca Wofford of San Diego is seeking class action status for the suit, and claims that the software upgrade made her iPhone unusable. “The true fact of the matter … is that the iOS 4 is a substantial ‘downgrade’ for earlier iPhone devices and renders many of them virtually useless iBricks,” the complaint reads. Apple admitted to less-than-optimal performance of iOS 4 on the iPhone 3G, calling it a “bug” to be fixed with the release of iOS 4.1.

The complaint also argues that Apple knew installation of iOS 4 on iPhone 3G units would degrade performance, and accuses Apple of releasing it for those handsets purposely to create an incentive for customers to upgrade to the iPhone 4. “Apple has falsely, intentionally and repeatedly represented to owners and consumers of the iPhone 3G that its new operating system for the device, iOS4, was of a nature, quality, and a significant upgrade for the functionality of all iPhone devices, when in fact, the installation and use of the iOS4 on iPhone 3G resulted in the opposite — a device with little more use than that of a paperweight,” the complaint argues. Wofford’s suit seeks damages and will require approval from a judge before class action status is granted.

Apple’s dead pixel policy revealed in leaked doc?

A supposed Apple internal document outlining the company’s procedures for replacement of devices with dead or abnormal pixels has appeared online. According to the document, a screenshot of which was posted by the Boy Genius Report, it is Apple’s policy to replace any iPod or iPhone with one or more bad pixels—referred to in the document as “pixel anomalies”—and any iPad with three or more problematic pixels. The document also lists procedures for other screen sizes ranging from 11.6 inches to 30 inches, and notes that while employees may offer a replacement unit to customers whose devices have what is considered to be an “acceptable” number of anomalies, the replacement product may have just as many if not more while still remaining within Apple’s acceptable range; the customer will not receive a second replacement device under those circumstances.

Facebook app update will add Groups, improve Places

At a special event today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a coming update to its Facebook app for the iPhone and iPod touch. The update will include support for the new Facebook Groups feature rolled out last month as well as enhancing support for Facebook Places first introduced to the iPhone app earlier this year. The new application will expand support for Facebook Places with a focus on improving tagging features when checking in to Places. Users will now be able to tag their Facebook friends in a Place both during and after they’ve checked-in, and can now tag friends in places from the newsfeed. A new feature in Facebook Places will also allow users to upload photos to share during the Places check-in process. The new version will also add support for Facebook’s new Deals feature, allowing users to discover deals at nearby Places.

Facebook also announced improvements to Facebook Places integration with third-party applications allowing apps to not only read Places information but now also check-in and search for Places through the Facebook APIs. Loopt and Gowalla have already been offering these features since the initial rollout of Places as part of a private beta program; this functionality will now be available to any third-party applications that wish to implement it. The updated Facebook for iPhone app is expected to appear on the App Store soon along with updates to other location-based social applications such as Yelp that will tie in tighter Facebook Places integration. There was conspicuously no mention made of an iPad Facebook application.

Update: The new version of Facebook for iPhone is now available from the App Store.  In addition to adding Groups, Places and Deals support, the updated version also provides a new composer view to make it easier to upload photos, status and check-ins right from the news feed.  Facebook 3.3 also adds single-sign-on integration with other Facebook-enabled iPhone applications on iOS 4, allowing users to enable Facebook Connect in other applications without having to re-enter their Facebook user ID and password, although users will still need to view and consent to the standard Facebook permissions screen in third-party apps before Facebook Connect will be enabled.

ITC argues in favor of Nokia in Apple patent trial

The U.S. International Trade Commission staff has issued a memo to ITC Judge Charles Bullock stating that Nokia shouldn’t be found liable of infringing upon Apple’s patents. “The evidence will not establish a violation” of Apple patent rights, the staff said in a pre-trial memo which was released yesterday. Apple is seeking to block imports of Nokia phones into the U.S. on the basis of patent infringement. Bloomberg reports that the memo also states that if Judge Bullock does find that there was a violation of Apple’s patents by Nokia, that he should recommend an order to block specific models of Nokia phones, as opposed to the company’s entire product line. Bullock is not required to follow the staff’s position, and is expected to release his findings on the matter in February; his ruling will be subject to review by a six-member commission.

Nokia first filed suit against Apple in October 2009, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents; Apple filed a countersuit claiming patent infringement in December. The lawsuits were followed by an ITC complaint from Nokia near the end of the year, alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.”

The ITC launched an investigation into Nokia’s claims against Apple in late January; it announced a similar investigation into Apple’s claims against Nokia in February. In March, a federal judge in Delaware signed an order halting litigation between Nokia and Apple pending resolution of the companies’ respective claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC); Nokia then sued Apple again in May, alleging that the iPhone and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G infringe on five of its patents.

iPhone 4 now shipping ‘within 24 hours’ in U.S.

Apple has once again updated its U.S. Online Store to reflect improved shipment wait times for the iPhone 4. According to the store’s iPhone page, new iPhone 4 units—both the 16GB and 32GB models—now ship “within 24 hours,” down from the previous estimate of 1-3 days. Apple first reduced the estimated wait time on new online iPhone 4 orders in the U.S. from three weeks to 5-7 days in early October, dropping it again in the interim to 1-3 days. The drop in wait times for the iPhone 4 appears to be unique to the U.S., however, as estimates from international stores such as Canada, U.K., France, and Germany remain at 1-2 weeks, depending on the country.

iOS 4.2 GM seed released to developers

Apple has released a pre-release version of the Gold Master of iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to members of the iOS developer program. This likely represents the last developer-only release prior to the final public release of iOS 4.2. Although Apple has not yet announced a release date for iOS 4.2, public iOS releases have generally occurred within 1-2 weeks of the release of a Gold Master seed. It is currently unknown what specific changes have been made in this latest version, although Apple highlighted new features in iOS 4.2 during its September 1st event and some previews have been seen from prior beta releases. Apple’s iOS 4.2 GM seeds for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, second-, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch are available now to paid iPhone developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Target to offer iPhone beginning Nov. 7

Target has announced that it will start offering the iPhone in 864 stores that include Target Mobile centers beginning November 7. The company will offer both the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, as well as in-store activation and a range of accessories. “At Target we continue to offer our guests the best in electronics so we’re happy to add  iPhone to our Target Mobile offerings,” said Mark Schindele, senior vice president of merchandising with Target. “With expert support from Target Mobile specialists and in-store activation, our guests will be able to leave the store with a new, working iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 in-hand.” A report from last month indicated that Target might offer the iPhone ahead of the holiday season, and that sales would be limited to stores with mobile phone centers, which were reportedly being installed through a partnership between Target and current iPhone retailer Radio Shack.

Apple sues Motorola over touch screen patents

Following a lawsuit and U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint filed by Motorola Mobility against Apple last month, Apple has filed a pair of patent infringement lawsuits against Motorola and Motorola Mobility. The suits, which name the Motorola Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BackFlip, Devour, and Charm as potentially infringing products, center around a handful of Apple patents related to multi-touch technology. According to Patently Apple, the suits specifically reference Apple patents covering an ellipse fitting for multi-touch surfaces, a multipoint touchscreen, an object-oriented system locator system, a touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics, a method and apparatus for displaying and accessing control and status information in a computer system, and support for custom user-interaction elements in a graphical, event-driven computer system. Apple is seeking a judgment that Motorola has directly infringed, induced infringement, and/or contributed to the infringement of one or more claims of the listed patents, a judgement blocking Motorola or its partners from further infringement, and damages.

Sprint: iPad driving wireless hotspot demand

In an interview with GigaOM, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse indicated that despite not selling the iPad, his company has actually benefited from Apple’s tablet device in the form of increased demand for its Overdrive MiFi wireless hotspots. Hesse notes that most iPads being sold are Wi-Fi only models and many customers turn to MiFi devices to get online when away from traditional wireless access points. Sprint was one of the first carriers to promote the use of the iPad Wi-Fi with a portable wireless hotspot by releasing a 4G Case for iPad.

Hesse declined to comment on the iPhone or Sprint’s relationship with Apple, stating only that it is currently focusing on the BlackBerry and Android smartphone platforms and that it does not comment on any conversations it has with third parties. Hesse added that the majority of devices sold in the past quarter for use on Sprint’s CDMA network were smartphones and that 45 percent of Sprint customers now have a smartphone. Like Verizon, Sprint’s CDMA network is incompatible with current iPhone models, however a CDMA iPhone built for Verizon would technically also be compatible with Sprint’s network; although it’s almost inevitable that Verizon’s iPhone would be sold locked to the Verizon network, the creation of a CDMA-compatible iPhone by Apple would open the door to the possibility of other U.S. carriers such as Sprint eventually carrying the iPhone as well. [via AppleInsider]

Fortune confirms Verizon iPhone, notes it may be CDMA only

Fortune has provided additional confirmation of a Verizon iPhone launching in early 2011. In an article profiling Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, Fortune confirms “that a Verizon iPhone will be released in early 2011” and adds that its sources indicate that the first version of the Verizon iPhone will likely be built to run only on CDMA networks rather than being a world phone that can roam internationally. Fortune’s profile of Seidenberg also provides some additional insights into the history of the relationship between Apple and Verizon during Apple’s initial efforts to bring the iPhone to market. Fortune’s confirmation follows similar reports earlier this month from other major publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. [via Mac Rumors]

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