iPad 2 set for international launch on March 25th

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Date: Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011, 04:10
Category: iPad, News

You can’t find it in the United States, so that’s no reason not to introduce it to the rest of the world.

Per TechRadar.com, despite continued sellouts of the iPad 2 in the U.S., an Apple spokesperson has confirmed that the international launch of the touchscreen tablet will proceed as planned on Friday, March 25.

“Everything that is on [Apple's U.K.] website still holds true; the website says 25 March and that’s when it’ll be,” an Apple spokesperson told TechRadar.com earlier this week.

Rumors that Apple would delay the international launch of the iPad 2 were fueled last week by immediate sellouts of new shipments of the device and long lines that continued in the week after launch. Last week, analyst Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities questioned whether Apple would be able to produce enough iPad 2 units to launch in more than two dozen countries this Friday after checks to several key Apple Stores.

Also stoking speculation of iPad 2 delays were reports of supply chain disruption caused by a massive earthquake in Japan that took place earlier this month. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told investors last week that the production status from Apple’s Japanese-based component suppliers remained unclear, with many partners unable to accurately quantify the extent of their damage.

Late last week, a report from iSuppli identified five components in the Pad 2 that are likely sourced from Japan: NAND flash from Toshiba Corp., DRAM made by Elphida Memory Inc., an electronic compass from AKM Semiconductor, a touchscreen overlay glass likely from Asahi Glass Co. and a system battery from Apple Japan. The report noted that while some of the suppliers’ facilities were undamaged, “delivery of components from all of these companies is likely to be impacted at least to some degree by logistical issues now plaguing most Japanese industries in the quake zone.”

Apple announced last week that it is delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan “while the country and [Apple's] teams focus on recovering from the recent disaster.”

The iPad 2 is scheduled to go on sale March 25 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. According to Apple, launch dates and pricing for further international launches will be announced at a later date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

How-To: View an AVI file on your iOS device

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Date: Friday, March 18th, 2011, 04:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

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As nifty as Apple’s iOS devices are, there are some limitations. One of these hurdles is the ability to play videos in an AVI format, which isn’t supported by iTunes or the native video player in the iPhone and iPad.

The cool cats at Mac|Life have thrown together a quick guide as to how to solve this problem, the author recommending that the HandBrake program can be used to convert an AVI movie into an MP4 file that will play perfectly on our iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Users can also download an iPhone or iPad app that does play these files, such as CineXPlayer for iPad (US$2.99) or the universal GoodPlayer (US$2.99), and use that to watch your videos without needing to convert them.

If you’ve played with any of these programs or have conversion tips of your own, please let us know in the comments.

Owners of 2011 MacBook Pro report troubles with iTunes Home Sharing feature

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Date: Thursday, March 17th, 2011, 11:32
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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As nifty as the 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks are, there may be some debugging that needs to be done.

Per AppleInsider, a number of early 2011 MacBook Pro owners report being unable to connect devices or maintain connections through iTunes Home Sharing.

A support thread in Apple’s Discussion forums has received over 200 posts from owners of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros reporting issues with iTunes Home Sharing. Several readers have also contacted AppleInsider regarding the issue.

“This is turning out to be a bigger problem than I thought with many people giving up and returning their new MBP 2011 due to this conflict. Apple has yet to find a fix but it has been widely documented via phone through AppleCare and through many Apple retail stores,” wrote one reader.

According to forum user ‘themacbear,’ the new MacBook Pro was able to stream to a second-generation Apple TV at first, but then the Apple TV reported being unable to connect or would display the error message “There are no movies in this library.”

In March, Apple released iOS 4.3 with new Home Sharing features. The Mac maker also issued iTunes 10.2 and then iTunes 10.2.1 to add compatibility with iOS 4.3 and Home Sharing. In spite of the updates, a number of users continue to report being unable to connect or maintain connections with iOS devices on their early 2011 MacBook Pros.

Recent improvements to the Home Sharing feature expand iTunes library sharing from just between Macs, PCs and Apple TVs to include mobile devices such as iPods, iPhones and iPads. When working properly, Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 allows an unlimited number of iOS devices to access content over Wi-Fi.

Though early 2011 MacBook Pros appear to be having the most trouble with Home Sharing, owners of older machines have also reported problems with the feature in a support thread for Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 that has reached 60 posts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices

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Date: Thursday, March 10th, 2011, 04:02
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you missed it yesterday, Apple released its latest version iOS on Wednesday, the long-awaited iOS 4.3 update becoming available through iTunes and introducing the following new fixes and features:

- Personal Hotspot – Share iPhone 4 cellular data connection with up to 5 devices (combination of up to 3 Wi-Fi, 3 Bluetooth, and 1 USB).

- iTunes Home Sharing – Play music, movies and TV shows from a shared iTunes library on a Mac or PC (requires iTunes 10.2).

- New Airplay features – Play videos from the Photos app including the Camera Roll album, iTunes previews, enabled third-party appsand websites on Apple TV – Play slideshows from Photos on Apple TV using transitions available on Apple TV.

- Faster Safari performance with Apple Nitro JavaScript engine.

- HD video out using the Apple Digital AV Adapter – View 720p HD videos from Videos app, iPod app, Photos, YouTube, Safari, Keynote, and enabled third-party apps on an HDMI display
Ping features.

- Push notifications for comments and follow requests.

- Post and Like songs directly from the Now Playing screen.

- Parental controls.

- New Settings.

- Messages setting for number of times to repeat an alert.

- iPad side switch setting to lock screen rotation or mute audio notifications and sound effects.

- Single tap conference call dialing with a pause to send a passcode.

- Bug fixes.

Amongst the biggest inclusions are Home Sharing (the ability to stream audio and video from iTunes on a local network to the iOS device); AirPlay (the ability to stream audio and video from the iOS device to an Apple TV or computer) for third-party developers; and the ability to create a personal WiFi hotspot from an iPhone or iPad with 3G support.

Per Macworld UK, users may need a qualifying data plan from your carrier and any necessary hotspot or tethering options to enable the much-anticipated Personal Hotspot feature. Users with an unlocked iPhone can use the feature without restriction. However, we advise users of this feature to keep a close eye on data charges as some mobile phone companies are now restricting data usage.

A couple of minor features snuck into iOS 4.3. Users can now enable Push Notifications for Ping activity, and the iPod app’s Now Playing screen offers the options to post about songs and like them on your Ping profile. Also new is a preference to specify how many times an SMS alert is repeated, as well as a conference dialing option to add a pause for entering a passcode.

Missing from iOS 4.3, however, are the new multitouch gestures that Apple asked developers to test on the iPad during the beta period. Gestures like four- and five-finger swipes could switch between apps and reveal the multitasking bar, and a pinch could exit an app and return you to the Home Screen. With the second iOS 4.3 beta, however, Apple clarified that these features were only for testing and would not ship to consumers in the final version. Obviously, they could return in a future iOS update or upgrade, but Apple hasn’t stated any plans.

iOS 4.3 is available now as a free update in iTunes for the iPad, iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. As for the Verizon iPhone 4, it runs a custom version of iOS 4.2.6 that includes some features like hotspot support. Comments from an Apple representative at the iPad 2 event suggest that it might take a little while for Verizon’s iPhone 4 to converge with the same iOS version as Apple’s other mobile devices.

If you’ve snagged the iOS 4.3 update, please let us know how it’s working on your devices, for better or for worse.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, March 9th, 2011, 04:00
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 10.2.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 75.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- iTunes 10.2.1 also includes improved Home Sharing, and lets users play music from their iTunes library on any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch over Wi-Fi using iOS 4.3. Any other changes to iTunes from version 10.2 are likely minor, as Apple did not detail them.

iTunes 10.2.1 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Adobe releases Wallaby preview, looking into tool to bridge Flash, HTML5 formats

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Date: Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, 04:44
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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After years of the squabble between Adobe’s Flash format and Apple’s push towards HTML5, Adobe may be developing a product to bridge the two sides. Per Macworld UK, Adobe Systems has released a preview of its Wallaby technology, which enables developers to leverage Flash development skills to build HTML files that can run on systems without the need for the Flash Player, including Apple iOS devices.

Wallaby, which will be offered for free on the Adobe Labs website, helps developers convert a Flash file created in the Flash Professional development tool to HTML. Apple’s iOS, which does not support Flash Player, is the primary use case for Wallaby. Output can also run on WebKit-based browsers like Safari and Chrome, said Tom Barclay, senior product manager for the Adobe Creative Suite business.

“It is an experimental technology that provides a glimpse of innovation that we’re doing around Flash and HTML and showing the investment that we’re making in both technologies we think are important for the long term,” Barclay said. The output of Wallaby enables use of not just HTML but also SVG and CSS, which are related technologies.

Wallaby is an AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) application for the Windows and Mac platforms. Developers can convert files to HTML5 via drag-and-drop functionality, Adobe said. Once files have been converted, developers can edit using an HTML editing tool, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, or by hand.

Wallaby was previewed last fall at the Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles. At this point, Adobe cannot indicate a product road map, as the company still is inviting user feedback.

Rumor: Apple to drop glass backing, return to aluminum backing for upcoming iPhone 5 handset

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Date: Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, 04:26
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Problems with scratching, paint mixtures and weight will lead Apple to abandon the glass back introduced in the iPhone 4, according to the Macotakara website. As a result, Apple will reportedly switch back to aluminium, the material used in the original iPhone, for the back of the unit.

The glass back is not the only design element from the iPhone 4 that will be abandoned, according to recent rumours. The problematic steel outer frame, which doubles up as the iPhone 4′s antenna, will also be scrapped after well-documented issues with reception problems suffered by the handset.

Instead, Apple will reportedly use a ‘logo antenna’ design with the antenna situated on the back of the device just under the logo.

The idea behind this is that the antenna could be placed in a special cavity where it would be isolated from other electronic components and therefore protected from anything that could potentially block radio-frequency signals. Per the report, the design will also use a special resin for the logo.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be announced in June at the WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC). It is expected to support both CDMA and GSM technologies and use an A5 processor, similar to the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 Golden Master build to developer community

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Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011, 05:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Software

Late Thursday, Apple released the gold master build of its iOS 4.3, its forthcoming operating system update for its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, just over a week ahead of its scheduled March 11 release.

Per AppleInsider, the download is available to developers through Apple’s official iOS developer portal. People familiar with the software say it is known as build 8F190.

Typically a gold master issued to developers is identical to the version that eventually becomes the final release, though two Golden Masters of iOS 4.2 were released after the first was found to have issues.

Apple announced the mobile operating system software update’s March 11 released date on Wednesday, and also showed off new, previously unannounced features. Among them is improved JavaScript performance, which is now said to be two times faster thanks to the Nitro engine taken from Mac OS X.

Improved iTunes Home Sharing will also allow users to access all of their content directly over Wi-Fi. And enhancements to AirPlay will allow applications and websites to stream over Wi-Fi to the Apple TV set top box. Sharing of photos over AirPlay can also use the built-in slide show options of iOS.

The new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 lets users share their 3G data connection over Wi-Fi. Personal Hotspot will work with supporting carriers and monthly data plans on the iPhone 4.

iOS 4.3 also adds the ability to change the purpose of the hardware switch on the right side of the iPad and iPad 2. Users can choose to have the switch mute audio from the device, or have it serve as an orientation lock, as it originally did when the iPad first shipped last year.

The iOS 4.3 update is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, first-generation iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. iTunes 10.2 has already been publicly released, adding compatibility with devices that are running iOS 4.3

If you’ve gotten your hands on the GM and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2 update

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Date: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011, 04:38
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 10.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 75.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3.

- Improved Home Sharing. Browse and play from your iTunes libraries with Home Sharing on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3

iTunes 10.2 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Random House may soon bring catalog to iBookstore

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Date: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, 05:16
Category: iPad, News

If you can get the big fish, the others will follow.

Per AppleInsider, Random House, the world’s largest book publisher and most high profile holdout from Apple’s eBook digital download, could soon bring its catalog of top selling novels to the electronics maker’s iOS ecosystem.

In a brief statement to the media Monday, Random House said that it has agreed to “the agency model for e‐book sales” in the U.S. effective Tuesday. That means that going forward, “Random House will set consumer prices for the e‐ books we publish, and […] will provide retailers with a commission for each sale,” the publisher said.

The concession could bring to an end a near year-long standoff between Random House and Apple’s iTunes-based iBookstore, which operates on the so called ‘agency model’ that allows the company serving the content to take a cut of sales. For its iBookstore, Apple employs the same 70-30 split that has seen renowned success on its App Store for software on the iPhone and iPod touch.

“The agency model guarantees a higher margin for retailers than did our previous sales terms,” Random House said. “We are making this change both as an investment in the successful digital transition of our existing partners and in order to give us the opportunity to forge new retail relationships.”

The statement appears to imply that the publisher could be on the verge of announcing plans to bring its catalog to Apple’s iOS devices though the iPhone and iPad maker’s iBookstore. Currently, iOS device users can only purchase and download from Random House’s digital catalog through Amazon’s Kindle app for those devices.

In the lead up to the launch of Apple’s iPad last April, Random House executives were said to be exploring the adoption of the agency model with their authors and agents before agreeing to Apple’s terms, which dictate that Apple receives a 30% cut of all sales on the iBookstore. At the time, chief executive Markus Dohle said his company hadn’t ruled out reaching a deal before the April 3rd, 2010 launch of the tablet device, but added that he was proceeding with caution.

Under the traditional business model, resellers have bought books from publishers at discount prices and then marked them up to make a profit through sales. But Apple’s agency approach has the publishers set the prices paid by consumers — something Random House executives were concerned could lead to considerably lower prices, and thus lower profits.

Word that Random House could join on the iBookstore five of its biggest competitors — HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin, Macmillan and Simon & Shuster — comes just two days before Apple is expected to take the wraps off its second-generation iPad in San Francisco, a device that is rapidly altering the landscape of the publishing industry.

Cool stuff if it happens and stay tuned for additional details as we get them.