O'Grady's PowerPage » iPad

Apple Changes Promo Code Terms In App Store

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 17th, 2011, 15:06
Category: App Store, Apple, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Review, Software

This isn’t exactly new information. It was reported as far back as May 3rd by Mac Rumors, but somehow I missed it until now. Apple has changed the functionality of the iOS App Store (unconfirmed whether this affects the Mac App Store) so that if you use a developer promo code to download an app, you will not be able to submit a review for the app; you will be “locked out”. Here is a blurb copied from an exchange with iTunes Store Customer Support:

Thanks for writing back and letting me know your concern. I understand that you are still not able to write a review. I know how disappointing it can be when things don’t work out the way they should. I am sorry to inform that it is no longer possible to rate or review an app if it was downloaded using a developer’s promotional code.

The crackdown is apparently in response to complaints that reviews were being skewed as a result of developers giving codes in exchange for favorable reviews. I’m not sure how widespread this issue is, and I’m sure the ones perpetrating the review stacking will find another way to do it, but for the most part it seems like a good idea. No worries about that here; regardless of how I get ahold of an app, if it’s crap I’ll tell you.

Rumor: iPad-native Facebook client close to release

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 17th, 2011, 07:01
Category: iPad, Rumor, Software

You love Facebook.

And you love your iOS devices.

And you wish there was a native Facebook client for your iPad.

Your wish might be about to come true.

According to the New York Times, sources close to the story have indicated that Facebook will release an app optimized for the iPad in “coming weeks,” while continuing work on an iPad-specific version of its website.

The New York Times reported Thursday that, according to people briefed on Facebook’s plans, the social network’s iPad app is in the “final stages of testing.” The app has been in production for almost a year and should be available within weeks.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly been “heavily invested” in the process and has overseen design decisions and the app’s unique features. Sources who have seen the application said it has a “slick design” specifically tailored for the iPad and its multi-touch interface. In particular, the company’s developers have focused on overhauling the Facebook Chat and Facebook Groups features.

iPad 2 users will also be able to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the built-in cameras. “The photo and video experience is amazing, offering full resolution and full-screen images,” said a person who has seen the app.

Facebook declined to comment on the rumored app, though it did reiterate that it maintains “a great relationship” with Apple, as exemplified by the iPhone application, which launched alongside Apple’s App Store in 2008.

According to the company, 250 million of Facebook’s 700 million worldwide users access the service on a mobile device. Meanwhile, Apple has sold more than 25 million iPads since its initial release last year. Apple plans to help Facebook promote the forthcoming iPad app by “featuring it prominently” in the App Store, said a person familiar with plans for the app.

Sources also confirmed that Facebook is working on an improved iPad version of its website, but specific timing of the update remained unclear. The tipster did, however, emphasize that an upgraded website was meant to supplement the iPad and iPhone app experiences, rather than competing with them.

Rumors swirled on Wednesday that Facebook is hard at work on an HTML5 platform meant to “break the stranglehold” that Apple has on mobile app distribution. The company has reportedly lined up 80 developers on a secretive project that would help Facebook to retain control while still reaching the more than 200 million iOS devices Apple has sold.

The two companies have differed at times; for example, Apple was unable to agree to Facebook’s terms for integration of Apple’s Ping social music discovery service with its own social network. But, last year Apple CEO Steve Jobs was reported to have invited Zuckerberg over for dinner to discuss the issue.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Wacom Releases iPad Notebook App

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 18:59
Category: Announcement, Apps, iPad, Software

Today, graphics tablet maker Wacom announced their first product to be available in the Apple App Store. Bamboo Paper is an iPad-exclusive notepad and sketching app, taking a stab at a category already populated by a plethora of other notepad apps. Here is some copy from their release:

Dear Friends,

Today we have launched Bamboo Paper, our first iPad app!

Bamboo Paper is a digital notebook for your iPad, letting you share ideas visually with handwritten notes, sketches and doodles. In combination with our Bamboo Stylus, it turns your iPad into a visual communication tool. You can download the app for free from any iTunes store around the world. But be quick while it is for free, because starting July 1, the app will cost €1.59 ($1.99).

You can help us by rating & commenting this app in the App store and telling your friends and family about it.

Here is the direct link to the App store:
For US: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bamboo-paper-wacom-notes-for/id443131313?mt=8&uo=4

Important to note is that the app is FREE until the end of June, as well as the mention of the Bamboo Stylus which is sold separately by Wacom. Although it isn’t required, Wacom intends the Paper app to be used in conjunction with the Stylus to get the most out of it. I was lucky enough to get a stylus for review, but I’ve been waiting for the release of the app to complete my review. I found that the app definitely benefits from using a pen-type device such as the aforementioned Bamboo Stylus or a Pogo Stylus. Watch for my complete review coming soon.

Imagination Technologies begins licensing process for future iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 15th, 2011, 07:54
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

Whatever you’re expecting from the next-gen iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, improved graphics should be on the way.

Per AppleInsider, Apple component provider Imagination Technologies is now licensing its PowerVR Series6 mobile graphics processing architecture, the next generation of the hardware found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad, to six key partners — three of which remain secret.

The new processor, code-named “Rogue,” was revealed to have been licensed by ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments and MediaTek. The remaining three partners are “yet to be announced,” but given the fact that Apple is a major shareholder of the company, its involvement could be considered likely.

Apple purchased a 3% stake in Imagination Technologies back in 2008, and in 2009 the iPhone maker increased its share to 9.5%.

Imagination said this week that its PowerVR Series6 GPU family offers best-in-class “GFLOPS per mm2 and per mW for all APIs.” The company also touted that it has “one of the largest teams of graphics engineers in the world,” and that its chips have powered hundreds of thousands of applications created by “an extensive ecosystem of third party developers.”

“The growing commitment of the primary players to our roadmap shows that, having evaluated the options, the overall mobile and embedded market is increasingly committing to PowerVR as the de facto graphics standard,” said Imagination CEO Hossein Yassaie.

More specifically, the graphics processor in the iPad 2 is the PowerVR SGX543MP2, which Apple has claimed helps to boost graphics in the A5 processor by as much as nine times. Benchmarks of just the SGX543GPU have found it to be much faster than its peers powering devices like the Motorola Xoom, or even 2010’s first-generation iPad.

With the A5 chip already in mass production for the iPad 2 and the same architecture expected to be utilized in the anticipated fifth-generation iPhone, it’s unlikely that Imagination’s new “Rogue” graphics processor could appear until at least a so-called “A6” custom Apple processor were to become a reality. The new PowerVR Series6 GPUs are said to be “fully compatible” with Imagination’s previous Series5 and Series5XT PowerVR SGX GPUs, which the company said will ensure “a smooth migration path for developers upgrading applications.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple continues initial next-gen MacBook Air production run, begins certifying components for iPad 3

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 14th, 2011, 07:05
Category: iPad, MacBook Air, Rumor

A new report corroborates earlier indications that Apple will begin production of revamped MacBook Air notebooks this month, while also adding an unverified tip on a high-resolution iPad 3 reportedly coming later this year.

Per Reuters, Apple will begin selling the new MacBook Air in late June with an initial shipment of 380,000 units.

According to the Economic Daily, when shipments of the new MacBook Airs are combined with shipments of the existing model, 460,000 units are expected to be produced this month.

Over the weekend, one tipster claimed that revitalized MacBook Airs would arrive this week, but eventually revised his story to suggest that Apple would actually begin carrying unlocked iPhone 4s at Apple Stores in the U.S.

The report also claimed that Apple will launch the iPad 3 in the fourth quarter with “image resolution 5-6 times higher than iPad 2.” But, it should be noted that the rumor appears highly unlikely and is reported here for the sake of completeness.

While numerous reports of an upgraded iPad 3 with a doubled resolution of 2048 x 1536 already exist, the resulting display would have four times the amount of pixels. Various sources have also hinted that the iPad 3 will not arrive until 2012.

Apple has reportedly begun certifying components for the iPad 3, but component makers expect the device to come out next year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to recall small number of Verizon iPad 2 units with duplicate electronic serial numbers

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 13th, 2011, 08:09
Category: iPad, News

Ok, this is a bit embarrassing.

Per AllThingsD, Apple has confirmed that an “extremely small number” of iPad 2 units for Verizon have been recalled because they were accidentally shipped with identical electronic serial numbers.

After reports emerged on Friday that a limited recall was taking place, an Apple spokesperson acknowledged the issue.

“Duplicate [Mobile Equipment Identifier] numbers were flashed onto an extremely small number of iPad 2 units for the Verizon 3G network,” an Apple representative said on Friday. Most of the devices had yet to reach the market, though a few had already been sold to customers. Apple declined to give more detailed information on the number of iPads recalled.

Apple announced this week that iPad sales had reached the 25 million unit milestone, which should result in roughly 8 million iPads shipped in the June quarter. That number would exceed analysts expectations, many of whom predict Apple will sell around 7 million units.

The iPad 2 has been wildly successful, with Apple selling the device as fast as it can make it. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said in April that the company faces “the mother of all backlogs” due to “staggering” demand for the iPad 2.

However, in spite of the sell-out iPad 2 launch, Wall Street was disappointed by iPad sales in the March quarter, which came to just 4.69 million as Apple drew down the original iPad and ramped up production of the second-generation tablet.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple unveils iOS 5, cites 200 new features, highlights 10 for keynote

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 10:41
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Not that the iOS user base has done anything wrong, but there’s going to be some changes around here…

Per Mac|Life, Apple sent in Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall took the stage to talk about the 1,500 new APIs that developers will have to tap into, with 200 new features to end users/

10 of them were shown yesterday and boil down as follows:

Notification Center: This gathers information in one easy-to-use spot which is accessed by swiping from the top of the screen. Notifications will also be featured on the lock screen, where you can swipe across any of them to go straight to the app in question.

Newsstand: Brings all of your magazine, newspaper and other periodical subscriptions to one place. “When you purchase them they’re automatically downloaded and placed on the Newsstand,” Forstall explained, showing off an integrated “newspaper stand” type graphic on the home screen.

Twitter: The rumors of deep Twitter integration into iOS 5 appear to have come true. There will be a single sign-on location in the iOS Settings and the feature will be integrated with apps such as the Camera and Photos for quick sharing.

Reader: The Reader view in desktop Safari is finally coming to Mobile Safari, which certainly poses a threat to existing services such as Readability. Reader for Mobile Safari will allow you to email the contents of a story as well as the link, and the browser will also gain the much-rumored Reading List feature similar to Instapaper. Last but not least, tabbed browsing finally comes to Mobile Safari as well. “It is lightning fast to switch between windows now,” Forstall exclaimed. Potentially putting another class of third-party developers out of business, Apple will introduce a slick new Reminders feature to iOS 5 which syncs across devices as well as to iCal.

Camera Button: iOS 5 will finally introduce a dedicated Camera button on the lock screen for quick one-tap access, and Apple has finally allowed use of the volume up button as a dedicated camera shutter. The Camera app also gains an auto exposure and auto focus lock, pinch to zoom and the ability to do basic editing such as crop, rotate and red-eye reduction without leaving the app.

iOS Mail: The app will gain rich text formatting, indentation control, draggable addresses, entire content searching and the ability to mark emails as unread if you want to act on them later. Security is also getting a boost with the use of S/MIME, and there’s finally a built-in dictionary that’s now a service across the entire iOS platform as well.

PC Free: iOS will no longer require a physical connection to the computer to enable syncing. “We know we’re selling to a lot of places where the households just don’t have computers,” Forstall confesses. Now you’ll be able to take your device out of the box and setup/activate right on the device. Software updates will also now come over the air, and they will be in the form of “delta” updates with just the new bits, rather than having to download hundreds of megabytes each time.

Game Center: “iOS is the most popular gaming platform on the planet,” Forstall boasts. “There are more than 100,000 game and entertainment titles in the App Store.” Citing more than 50 million Game Center users in only nine months — eclipsing Xbox Live’s 30 million users in eight years — Forstall promises that the service will get even more social with friend and game recommendations and even the ability to purchase and download games directly from the app.

Finally, Forstall introduced the new iMessage service for iOS users, supporting all of the company’s devices. Users can send text messages, photos, videos, contacts and group messages with delivery and read receipts as well as real-time typing notification. Start a conversation on your iPhone and pick up where you left off on the iPad, and it works over both 3G and Wi-Fi.

Among the other features coming to iOS 5 are AirPlay mirroring, wireless sync with iTunes (hooray!), multitasking gestures and much more. iOS 5 was released to developers via an updated SDK yesterday and will ship to customers in the fall alongside the free iCloud service, with support from the iPhone 3GS and up.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: iPad 2 constraints easing, supply improving

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, 03:41
Category: iPad, News

In spite of the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami back in March, iPad 2 production restraints that affected Apple last quarter are said to have “significantly improved,” allowing for improved availability of the tablet.

According to AppleInsider, Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said Friday that Apple has found better yields in iPad 2 production through retooling and conversion of more overseas production lines. These changes have gone a long way in addressing the supply issues Apple experienced last quarter.

Wu also cautioned that Apple is along way from meeting its internal goals for iPad 2 production. Previous rumors suggested Apple could ship as many as 45 million iPad 2 units this year, though predictions have dropped since Apple’s last quarter fell short of expectations for iPad sales.

“From our understanding, [Apple] still has a ways to hit the [second half] goal of 3-4 million units per month but getting closer,” Wu wrote.

Accordingly, Wu has increased his estimates for iPad sales in the current, third fiscal quarter of 2011 for Apple. He now sees the company selling 6.8 million iPads, up from his previous prediction of 5.9 million.

Wu also increased his estimated iPhone sales to 17 million, up from 16 million. He said iPhone demand appears to be holding up better than expected, thanks to strong adoption of the white iPhone 4 and strong sales on Verizon.

Wu also increased his projected Mac sales to 3.9 million from the quarter, up from 3.83 million. He is also assuming a new, higher gross margin of 39%, increased from 38.3%, due to improved iPad yields and higher iPhone sales.

Finally, he’s also increased Sterne Agee’s 12-month price target for AAPL stock to $460, up from the previous prediction of US$445.

So, if you want an iPad 2, odds are the one you want should be available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Appearance: Atlantic City Mac User Group meeting tonight

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 13th, 2011, 10:17
Category: App Store, Apps, iOS, iPad, Meetup, News, User Group

Just a quick heads-up that I’m presenting my favorite iPad apps tonight, Friday, May 13, live in the meatspace at the Atlantic City Mac Users Group (@ACAMUG) at 7:30 p.m. If you’re going to be in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware area please stop by.

ACAMUG meets at the Mays Landing, NJ campus of Atlantic Cape Community College located on Route 322, aka the “Black Horse Pike”, about two miles west of the Hamilton Mall (directionscampus map.) Head to Building M, room M129 — across from Careme’s restaurant.

I’ll be giving away retro PowerPage t-shirts and copies of my book, The Droid Pocket Guide (2nd Ed.). I look forward to meeting you there.

Amazon quietly adds iOS support for Cloud Player music streaming service

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 10th, 2011, 03:10
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

Competition’s a bit weird sometimes.

Amazon has silently added support for browser-based playback of music in its new cloud streaming service on iOS-powered devices.

Per TechCrunch, Amazon quietly added support for iOS devices through its built-in Safari browser. Users can log into their account on Amazon and access the Cloud Player, which now allows streaming of audio files stored on its servers.

Users who visit the site will still be prompted with a message warning them that their browser is not supported. However, music playback now works through the service, and audio is even paused when a push notification or call is received.

“Of course, this implementation is still not as good as it is on Android, where Cloud Player is part of a native app,” author MG Siegler wrote. “But if Amazon did a little web work and made the web-based player optimized for the iPhone and iPad, it would certainly be very useable on a regular basis.”

Amazon’s cloud streaming service launched in March, but initially only had support for streaming via the Web and on Android devices. Amazon Cloud Drive offers 5GB of free online storage, with premium accounts expandable to up to 1,000GB.

The push to launch the service, which requires users to upload their own songs and is not backed by any recording industry licensing deals, was seen as a move to preemptively take on Apple and its own anticipated cloud music streaming service. It’s also been reported that Apple is expected to unveil its “iCloud” service this year with support for bookmarks, e-mail, contacts and more, in addition to music streaming.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve played around with Amazon’s Cloud service on your iOS device and have any feedback to offer, let us know.