Rumor: Apple purchased Polar Rose facial recognition company for $29 million

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Date: Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, 04:17
Category: Rumor, Software

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It’s the stuff Apple buys out that makes future technology speculation kind of fun.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is rumored to have bought a Swedish company Polar Rose. The company has created technology for facial recognition, which could allow for software and devices to recognize unique users.

Though neither party has officially confirmed the purchase, Polar Rose offers a number of products based on its technology, including FaceCloud, which allows facial recognition for Web services, and FaceLib, which brings the functionality to mobile phones.

One of the company’s products, dubbed Recognizr, could take a photo of a user and recognize that same person when shown on video. In a video demonstration, the application places social networking sites associated with that person around their face when seen via a mobile phone’s video camera.

Polar Rose is a small company with less than 20 employees. Its technology came from research conducted in two universities located in southern Sweden.

Earlier this month, on its official blog, Polar Rose announced it would no longer offer free end-user face detection and recognition services. The service allowed users to tag their Facebook friends in Flickr photos.

“The service got quite a few users interested and this in turn led to interest by larger companies in licensing our technology,” Polar Rose’s Thijs Stalenhoef said. “This meant refocusing and that left our free service out in the cold. Although we did try to keep it up to date, this became harder and harder over time, as our licensing business accelerated.”

Apple has its own “Faces” technology featured in its iPhoto and Aperture applications. Faces uses face detection and recognition to find and organize photos by the people in them.

In addition, Apple has shown interest in having its devices identify users using a camera and facial recognition technology. In January, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users’ faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family.

Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user’s personal settings once they picked it up. One early feature included virtual “sticky notes” that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.

Cool stuff if it happens and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Security Update 2010-006 for Mac OS X 10.6 users

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Date: Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, 03:11
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released its Security Update 2010-006 patch, a tiny 1.8 megabyte download that fixes one specific bug in Mac OS X 10.6.4’s AFP file sharing implementation that could allow remote attackers to bypass the password validation system if they know the name of an account on the Mac.

Fortunately, previous versions of Mac OS X are not affected and only client users need the update.

The update can be snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

Apple begins selling refurbish Wi-Fi iPad units at $50 discount

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPad, News

For the first time since the iPad went on sale, Apple is now offering the hardware refurbished with a US$50 discount from its online store as availability of the product continues to improve.

Currently, just refurbished Wi-Fi-only iPad models are available, though all capacities can be purchased, with a shipping time of between one and three days. The 16GB model sells for US$449, the 32GB model is US$549, and the highest capacity 64GB model is US$649.

Like other refurbished sales, the iPads come with Apple’s one-year limited warranty, and the AppleCare Protection Plan is also available for purchase. The site also notes that supplies are limited.

The popular 3G-capable refurbished iPads are not yet available for purchase via Apple’s online store. All three models are listed as out of stock, and will also sell for US$50 off, starting at US$579 for the 16GB model.

Rumor: Apple digital newsstand app in planning phases, talks being held with content providers

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 04:43
Category: iPad, Rumor

While it’s hard to say if Apple can help save the overall publishing industry, it appears to be doing its part to try. Per Bloomberg, the company is rumored to be creating a new digital storefront for newspapers and magazines that, like iBooks does for print books, will serve as a standalone iPad app for purchasing repurposed print content.

The new store has been described as standing apart from the established App Store and iBooks applications. The product is said to be in the early planning stages, as negotiations with major content providers are reportedly ongoing.

“Apple’s effort is aimed at luring more consumers to the iPad and helping publishers sell subscriptions, rather than single issues,” the report said. “The main hang-ups between Apple and publishers including Time Warner Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst Corp. and News Corp. are who controls data about users and how to split subscription revenue, the people said. Pricing for subscriptions also hasn’t been worked out.”

People involved in the discussions reportedly said the digital newsstand could open as soon as in a few months, or the talks could fall apart altogether. It was also suggested that Apple could wait until it launches its next-generation iPad in early 2011 before unveiling the new store.

The plans are said to be part of Apple’s ongoing talks with print publishers who want to offer subscription plans for customers to access content from the iPad. This week, it was reported that Apple has agreed to allow an opt-in function which would let subscribers share their personal information with publications. The print business relies on demographic information to share data with advertisers.

The new application will reportedly “make it easier and cheaper to create digital versions of magazines and newspapers, with extras such as high-resolution videos integrated with stories.” The storefront will aim to simplify the process, in order to attract publishers.

Before the iPad was released earlier this year, publishers and Apple were said to have struggled to reach a deal, as Apple was reluctant to share consumer data beyond sales volume. But advertisers and publishers consider demographic data to be the “most valuable asset.”

Two Google Voice apps receive Apple approval, Google Voice may be forthcoming

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 04:10
Category: News, Software

In a change on previous decision, two Google Voice applications were accepted into the App Store on Sunday: GV Mobile + and GV Connect. Per AppleInsider, their acceptance marks the first time that Apple has allowed such software since it removed Google Voice apps in July of 2009.

Earlier this month, Sean Kovacs, the developer of GV Mobile +, indicated he had spoken with Apple, and representatives with the company indicated they would approve his software. The change in policy came after Apple published its App Store Review Guidelines for all to see.

Still missing in action, however, is Google’s own official Google Voice application. The “non-rejection” of that application in 2009 caused a controversy and even led to an inquiry from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

In a letter to the FCC, Apple claimed that it was reviewing the official Google Voice application. The company said it had not outright rejected the software, but was instead considering it. Over a year passed with no official acceptance or rejection.

Google, on the other hand, said in its own letter to the FCC that Apple had outright “rejected” the Google Voice application from the App Store.

The approval of the two apps would suggest that the search giant could once again submit its Google Voice application, and have it accepted into the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s suppliers prepping materials for second-gen iPad due in first quarter 2011

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Date: Friday, September 17th, 2010, 05:15
Category: iPad, News

Apple’s component suppliers are said to be preparing for the launch of Apple’s second-generation iPad in the first quarter of 2011.

Per DigiTimes, the suppliers are completing validation for the second-generation iPad, which will maintain the same 9.7″ screen when it debuts in the first quarter of 2011.

“Component suppliers of iPad are expected to start shipments for the second-generation iPad at the beginning of 2011,” the report said.

Specifically cited suppliers were TPK Touch Solutions, WinTek, Cando, Cimei Innolux. Together, they are said to be validating “ultra-thin glass-based touch panels with Apple.”

As reported last week, Apple plans to move aggressively on adding FaceTime functionality to its entire line of iOS devices, leaving the iPad as the last device to receive the upgrade. A source close to the story indicated that an iPad equipped with a forward facing camera is already in the advanced testing stages at Apple.

Though Apple typically follows an annual upgrade pattern for its devices, it was said that Apple could refresh the iPad line ahead of this year’s holiday season. That person indicated that the FaceTime-equipped iPad was tracking for an introduction no later than the first quarter of 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad to hit five Latin American countries on Friday, September 17th

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Date: Thursday, September 16th, 2010, 11:55
Category: iPad, News

China won’t be the only country to get the iPad on Friday. Per Macworld, Apple announced that the iPad will also arrive in five South American countries on September 17th.

The countries that will receive the iPad on Friday are Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Unlike China, however, customers in these countries will get a choice between the iPad’s Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models.

Customers can check availability and pricing at Apple’s Latin American store finder.

Apple posts first external iOS 4.2 betas, new features on the way

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Date: Thursday, September 16th, 2010, 04:06
Category: iPad, News, Software

Apple on Wednesday released the first external betas of iOS 4.2, which will debut features like AirPlay and AirPrint for iOS devices while also delivering a slew of long-awaited bells and whistles for the iPad, including multi-tasking, folders and threaded mail.

Per AppleInsider, a handful of more subtle refinements will ship along as well:

The biggest new feature for iPhone and iPod touch users is AirPrint, which allows wireless printing via a shared printer, or directly through some HP branded printers. The functionality is accomplished through a new Print Center application that is only available on iOS devices that can multitask, which means the iPhone 3G will not be able to print.

iOS 4.2 for the iPhone will debut a new icon for Apple’s Voice Memos application, a new version of modem firmware, and some new font additions for the Notes application, detailed later in this article in relation to the iPad. It will also add support for importing .ics files directly as a way to add events to the native Calendar application.

Multi-tasking:
iOS 4.2 introduces to the iPad many features that iPhone and iPod touch users already enjoy, including multitasking and folders. Just like on current devices that run iOS 4, users can run tasks from compatible applications in the background, and manage those applications by double-tapping the home button.

20-app Folders:
By dragging icons atop one another on the iPad homescreen, iOS 4.2 also automatically creates a folder. This will allow iPad users to have less clutter on their homescreen, and to easily sort their downloads from the App Store. The iPad’s larger screen real estate allows for a total of 20 applications per folder rather than 12.

New Spotlight Preferences:
Apple has added a new Spotlight Search preference pane under the General Settings panel with options to include or disallow search results based on the following categories: Contacts, Applications, Music, Podcasts, Videos, Audiobooks, Notes, Mail and Events. Users can also reorder those categories to force search results to display in the order of their liking.

New Restrictions:
In addition to allowing or disallowing Multiplayer Games through Game Center, iOS 4.2 for iPad will enable users to allow or disallow changes to Location settings and Mail Account settings.

A new setting in iOS 4.2 for iPad 3G allows users to disable 3G access and revert to EDGE, trading speed for battery life.

Check Spelling:
Like iOS 4.1 for the iPhone, iOS 4.2 for iPad will deliver the option to turn Spell Checking on or off.

Accessibility: Larger Fonts:
Handicapped and elderly users will notice the addition of a “Large Text” option in the accessibility preference pane which offers the option to set font sizes for Contacts, Mail, Messages, and Notes in one of the following sizes: 20pt, 24pt, 32pt, 40pt, 48pt, 56pt.

New Notes Preferences:
Like iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, Apple has added a Notes preference pane that lets users choose between Chalkboard, Helvetica, and Marker Felt for their notes fonts. It also lets users set a default email account to which new notes can be tied.

Wireless Printing:
Of course one of the most highly anticipated features of iOS 4.2 is support for AirPrint, Apple’s wireless printing technology. Apple is updating all of its applicable default apps to support the AirPrint feature.

Game Center:
iPad users will also gain access to Game Center, Apple’s social networking application for games on iOS devices. Game Center allows users to invite friends to play a game, compare scores and achievements with others, and more.

New Orientation Lock and Brightness Controls:
With iOS 4.2 for iPad, Apple will convert the physical orientation lock button on the right hand side of the iPad into a volume mute toggle. Orientation locking will be facilitated through the iPod widget like on the iPhone. iOS 4.2 will also add a display brightness interface slider on the left hand side of the iPod widget (to fill space?).

AirPlay:
AirPlay (formerly AirTunes), is also on its way to the iPad and iPhone via iOS 4.2. In addition to music, the technology will then allow users to stream video and photos over Wi-Fi, as can be seen in this screen capture of the new Photos application for the iPad.

Universal, Threaded Mail App:
For Mail on the iPad, iOS 4.2 will offer a universal mailbox and the option (via the Mail preference pane) to organize mails by thread. Like on the iPhone and iPod touch, messages in an inbox will automatically be combined into a threaded view where applicable, saving space and making the Mail application more efficient.

iAd:
Apple’s iAd interactive advertisements will also begin appearing in iPad applications after the release of iOS 4.2. iAds offer an “app within an app,” allowing advertisers to deliver content to users without forcing them to open a browser and leave their current application. With the iOS 4.2 beta, developers can now begin working to integrate iAds into their iPad software in time for its November release.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the iOS 4.2 beta for the iPad and can offer any comments of feedback, please let us know what you think.

Rumor: Apple crafting newspaper subscription plan for iPad

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Date: Thursday, September 16th, 2010, 04:26
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s hard to say whether the iPad will save the newspaper industry, but it looks like Apple might try.

Per the San Jose Mercury News, Apple will soon announce a newspaper subscription plan for the iPad, introducing a revenue sharing model similar to the one that has been employed for applications sold on the App Store, according to a new rumor.

Per sources close to the story, Apple has agreed to implement an opt-in function to allow subscribers to share their personal information with publications. Print publications rely on that information to share demographic data with advertisers.

Earlier this year, before the iPad was even released, publishers and Apple apparently struggled to reach a deal, as Apple was reluctant to share consumer data beyond sales volume. Advertisers and publishers, on the other hand, consider demographic data to be the “most valuable asset.”

Author John Boudreau spoke with Roger Fidler, head of digital publishing at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbia, Mo., who said that the anticipated plan will likely resemble the current App Store model, which would give Apple a 30% cut of all subscriptions sold through the digital download service. In addition, Apple could take as much as 40% of the advertising revenue from those applications.

Fidler also indicated that publishers are not pleased with the deal, as they would rather pay Apple a fee than a cut of their subscription and advertising revenue.

“They had hoped to offer app editions as part of subscription bundles that include print versions of the paper,” the report said. “Instead, they must use Apple as an intermediary with subscribers.”

Publishers have struggled with Apple in bringing their content to the iPad. At first, Apple did not allow subscriptions to magazines through the App Store. This impasse was broken in August, when People magazine became the first publication to offer subscribers free access to its iPad application.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad to arrive at U.S. Best Buy locations on September 26th, may be sold at Walmart and Target by end of 2010

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Date: Wednesday, September 15th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPad, News, retail

If you’re looking for additional stores to purchase an iPad in, factor in Best Buy later this month.

Per AppleInsider, the Best Buy retail chain will begin carrying Apple’s tablet on September 26th, amounting to 1,093 of the company’s U.S. retail locations selling Apple’s device.

Best Buy announced the expansion on Tuesday, the same day that the company revealed its strong quarterly earnings. Those sales were buoyed by demand for devices like the iPad, the company said.

The iPad was available at Best Buy when the device launched earlier this year, though it was limited to 673 retail stores with Apple Shop locations. Now, All 1,093 stores in the U.S. will carry both the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models on September 26th.

Best Buy officials indicated that stores experienced “constrained inventory” when the iPad launched earlier this year. But with supply issues apparently alleviated, Chief Executive Brian Dunn anticipates that the iPad, along with other tablet devices, will be “big for us during the holidays.

In addition to selling the iPad, Best Buy stores will also carry a range of accessories for Apple’s touchscreen tablet.

Apple is also rumored to make the iPad available for sale at Target in the coming weeks, as recent evidence has suggested the device could see a launch in stores on October 3rd. Earlier this year, Walmart, the largest retailer in the U.S., also indicated it hopes to sell the iPad by the end of 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.