Bungie's classic first person shooter Marathon [iTunes] is now on the App Store for the iPad. The free download offers 27 levels divided into 6 chapters. The interface has been modified to accommodate touch screen interaction of the iPad.
Marathon was first released by Bungie Software for the Macintosh in 1994. It was a Mac exclusive launch and was released shortly after Doom was first released for the PC. Bungie later went on to be acquired by Microsoft and released the popular Halo game series for the Xbox.
The iPad version of the game started off as a personal project by iOS developer Daniel Blezek but was later officially sanctioned by Bungie. The iPad version of the game is free to download, but an in game store offers two in-app purchase options. The first is called "HD Mode" for $3.99 and features new high resolution textures to replace the walls, floors and liquids. The second is Master Chief Mode for $0.99 which offers the ability to start on any level, infinite ammo, all weapons, instant recharge, invulnerability and instant save.
A federal judge has denied Apple's preliminary injunction demanding Amazon stop using the term "appstore" for its Android marketplace. Apple sued Amazon back in March and asked U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton to immediately order Amazon to cease using the term. Apple believes the term is trademark protected.
Several weeks ago, the judge in the case expressed her skepticism regarding Apple's argument that "App Store" should be a non-generic trademark and today ruled that Apple has not thus far established "a likelihood of confusion" between Apple and Amazon's app stores.
A preliminary injunction is an order by the court to restrain a particular activity, usually ordered if the judge believes there is substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case, or if there is a substantial threat of irreparable damage if the injunction is not granted, among other reasons
Earlier this year, Amazon launched its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services, offering users the ability to store music and other digital content on Amazon's servers for access from a variety of Internet-connected devices. With Apple's iCloud announcement last month, some have been wondering whether Amazon might tweak its offerings to compete with iCloud.
In response, Amazon today announced several changes that do exactly that, expanding the music storage capabilities of its Cloud Drive service and launching an iPad-optimized Cloud Player. Among the specific changes:
- Unlimited music storage with any paid plan: Users signing up for any paid storage plan, including the lowest tier priced at $20 per year for 20 GB of space, automatically receive unlimited storage space for music in MP3 and AAC formats. The change leaves the full paid storage amount available for other content such as photos and documents. This offer is available for a limited time.
- Free storage of all Amazon MP3 Store purchases: Most applicable for those users opting to stick with the free 5 GB plan, Amazon will now store all past and future Amazon MP3 Store purchases free of charge and without counting toward the 5 GB limit. The feature had previously been limited to purchases made since the debut of Cloud Drive and Cloud Player.
- Cloud Player for iPad: Amazon has launched an iPad-optimized web player for music stored through the Cloud Drive service. Despite a lack of official support for iOS devices until now, Amazon Cloud Player has been partially functional, but the new changes should significantly increase usability for iPad customers.
The "iTunes in the Cloud" component of iCloud is partially active now, allowing users to automatically download newly-purchased content to all iCloud-enabled devices and to support easy re-downloading of previously-purchased iTunes Store content. The full iCloud service is set to debut later this year alongside iOS 5, and will provide users with 5 GB of free storage, not including purchased music, apps, books, and Photo Streams. Additional storage will be available at as-yet unannounced prices.
The full iCloud launch will also see the debut of iTunes Match, a $24.99/year service that will allow users to store their entire music collections in the cloud for syncing across devices, either by matching to iTunes Store tracks or by uploading directly into the cloud.
As with the debate over whether the next-generation iPhone should tentatively be referred to as an "iPhone 5" or "iPhone 4S", observers are also differing in their opinions on Apple's next-generation iPad. While Apple has so far used the yearly upgrade cycle that has been relatively among the company's mobile devices for the iPad, there have been rumors that Apple is planning to release an updated iPad later this year. That update would come only about six months or so after the release of the iPad 2.
And while many reports have taken to calling the rumored device the "iPad 3" as a logical extension of Apple's naming scheme so far, a new note from FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger (via International Business Times) has now coined a new term for the next-generation iPad: the "iPad 2 Plus".
Berger's note echoes a report from last week claiming that Apple is gearing up for a fall launch of the next-generation iPad, which will include a higher-resolution display.
"There are some indications from the supply chain that Apple may look to introduce an 'iPad 2 Plus' device as they put out request for quotes from various component suppliers for this marginally different device," FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger wrote in a note to clients.
Apple may launch the device in late 2011, the analyst said, citing supply-chain contacts.
Berger's view of the next-generation iPad as a tweaked iPad 2 is essentially the reverse of theories that initially appeared earlier this year in the lead-up to the iPad 2 launch. At that time, some observers had considered what would become the iPad 2 to be an interim release to carry Apple through until it could release a more significant update later in the year.
But with Apple actually having made fairly substantial improvements in the iPad 2 with the addition of dual cameras, a 33% thinner enclosure, and processor and graphics enhancements, Berger's report takes the view of the next-generation iPad being an enhanced iPad 2 rather than a full iPad 3 update.
Regardless of the name attached to the rumored next-generation device, a shift to a higher-resolution display approaching "Retina" resolutions in the range of 250-300 ppi would of course be a substantial improvement even on its own, although it is unclear just what other enhancements would be included in the new iPad.
Spotify is officially coming to the United States. Domestic visitors to Spotify.com are now redirected to a signup page where users can enter an email address to "be one of the first to get Spotify."
Spotify is a Sweden-based streaming music service that offers music from a number of major and independent record labels. It has hitherto been available only in western Europe.
There are free subscriptions limited by hours of listening time, and then paid subscriptions that offer features such as offline mode, the ability to download songs to iPods and more. Subscription fees range from €5 to €10 per month. Spotify recently raised a $100 million venture round at a $1 billion valuation.
Spotify can be used as a replacement for iTunes, iTunes Match and the iTunes Store. Instead of letting users listen to music they have purchased or acquired from other sources, Spotify allows listeners to stream any songs Spotify has licensed.
It is quite a bit more expensive than iTunes Match will be, costing €60-€120/year in Europe, versus $25/year for iTunes Match. US pricing has not been announced yet.
Last month, a report claimed that both existing supplier OmniVision Technologies and newcomer Sony had been lined up to produce 8-megapixel image sensors for the next-generation iPhone, with OmniVision said to be set to shoulder 90% of the load.
But Forbes today shares a report from FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger, who claims that OmniVision has run into production troubles that may have caused the company to miss Apple's deadline for commercial-scale production of the sensors. As a result, Apple may have decided to shift the majority of production over to Sony.
Berger writes that he still expects the next iPhone - which he and others call the iPhone 4S - to have an 8 MP camera, but adds that "OmniVision may be having technical difficulties with its new CMOS sensor, possibly risking its iPhone socket supplier status."
The analyst adds his contacts says OmniVision "may have missed Apple's commercial production deadline," losing its lead supplier status for the image sensor to Sony.
The report notes that the image sensor chips are manufactured under contract by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which is experiencing unacceptably low yields on the chips.
OmniVision's stock is currently down about 4% after having been down as much 10% following the release of the report.
Barron's reports on a new research note from Citadel Securities analyst Shing Yin claiming that the iPhone is likely to debut on U.S. carrier Sprint sometime before Christmas of this year. Yin notes that with Verizon shifting to tiered data plans beginning tomorrow, Apple likely has additional motivation to strike a deal with Sprint, which continues to offer the unlimited data plans preferred by Apple.
Timing may not depend on exclusives with Verizon and AT&T, writes Yin, as he thinks both carriers are unlikely to try and delay a Sprint introduction of an iPhone for legal reasons. Sprint would want the phone before Christmas, and "we see little reason for Apple to hold back."
Yin points to Sprint's competitive service plan pricing as a significant opportunity to draw in new customers, particularly if the carrier is able to launch with the next-generation iPhone simultaneously with AT&T and Verizon.
As always, analysts' comments should be taken with a grain of salt, and Yin's comments in particular appear to be based primarily on speculation and inference.
Yin is not the first analyst, however, to suggest that a Sprint iPhone may appear in the relatively near future. Back in mid-May, Jeffries & Co. analyst Peter Misek claimed that Apple will be bringing the iPhone to both Sprint and T-Mobile by the end of the year and an Apple job posting looking for a carrier engineer in Kansas City, Missouri near Sprint's headquarters has similarly helped fuel rumors of a Sprint iPhone.
VIA Technologies today announced that it and its partner investment firm WTI are selling off S3 Graphics to smartphone manufacturer HTC.
The acquisition is notable because S3 Graphics recently won a partial victory over Apple in an initial judgment on a patent dispute being reviewed by the U.S. International Trade Commission. HTC's purchase of S3 will turn those patents over to the smartphone company and be a significant bargaining chip should the initial determination that Apple has violated two of the patents hold up.
Owning S3 Graphics may boost HTC in its legal battle against Apple, which last year sued the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company for patent infringements. S3 Graphics last week won a ruling against the maker of iPhones and iPads regarding two patents for compression technology.
“Buying a patent portfolio will be very useful to us,” Yung said, declining to comment on specific lawsuits.
Apple and HTC have been locked in a legal battle for well over a year, beginning with Apple's March 2010 lawsuit accusing HTC of infringing 20 Apple patents with its Android-powered handsets. HTC filed a countersuit several months later, but no resolution has yet been reached.
The New York Times reports that former Flextronics executive Walter Shimoon has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of security fraud over his role in leaking insider information on Apple's iPhone and iPad plans to research firm Primary Global Research.
Flextronics manufactured chargers for the iPhone, giving Shimoon access to nonpublic information on Apple's internal sales forecasts for the device, which he then shared with Primary Global Research in his role as a "consultant" for the firm.
In addition to sales figures, prosecutors said Mr. Shimoon also tipped a cooperating witness to Apple's plans to develop a new iPhone. But later in the call, according to a transcript from prosecutors, Mr. Shimoon leaked word of an even more secret product in development, the iPad, which at the time was referred to as K48.
"So, you can get, at Apple you can get fired for saying K48...outside of a, you know, outside of a meeting that doesn't have K48 people in it," he told a cooperating witness, according to taped calls. "That's how crazy they are about it."
Primary Global Research has been the target of a federal investigation into "expert networks" that solicit employees offering insider information and provide that nonpublic information to Wall Street money managers to facilitate insider trading. A number of arrests have been made over the firm's collection of insider information on Apple, Dell, AMD, and other tech companies.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is indeed preparing a new iPhone for a launch during the third quarter of this year, with an initial production target of 25 million units through the end of the year.
"Apple's sales estimates of the new iPhone is quite aggressive. It told us to prepare to help the company meet its goal of 25 million units by the end of the year," said another person at one of Apple's suppliers. "The initial production volume will be a few million units... we were told to ship the components to assembler Hon Hai in August."
Countering claims that the next-generation iPhone will be nearly identical in appearance to the iPhone 4, the Journal's sources indicate that the new device will be "thinner and lighter" and that Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn/Hon Hai is having difficulties with yield rate on the new device due to it being "complicated and difficult to assemble."
Two of the people, however, cautioned that shipments of the new iPhone could be delayed if Hon Hai can't improve its yield rate as the new iPhone is "complicated and difficult to assemble."
Reports over the past few months have been pointing to a September release for the next-generation iPhone, which has been said to carry Apple's A5 processor found in the iPad 2, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a baseband chip from Qualcomm to support both GSM and CDMA networks.
The JailbreakMe.com website has returned to offer an entirely browser-based jailbreak tool for iOS devices including (for the first time) the iPad 2.
Jailbreaking is a process by which Apple's iOS devices can be opened up to allow for installation of non-Apple-approved applications, customizations and file access. Apple officially disapproves of jailbreaking and has even warned users that these unauthorized modifications can cause "instability, disruption of services, and compromised security." Still, a large and active jailbreak community has emerged over the years since the iPhone's introduction.
- iPad1: 4.3 through 4.3.3 - iPad2: 4.3.3 - iPhoneGS: 4.3 through 4.3.3 - iPhone4: 4.3 through 4.3.3 - iPhone4-CDMA: 4.2.6 through 4.2.8 - iPod touch 3g: 4.3, 4.3.2, 4.3.3 - iPod touch 4g: 4.3 through 4.3.3
The JailbreakMe site is unique in that it allows users to jailbreak their devices entirely using the Safari browser and without downloading any additional software. The site itself also offers a Frequently Asked Questions page that reassures users that the jailbreaking process is fully reversible with a simple restore and that there is no risk for any permanent damage. Still, we'd recommend users proceed with caution. The installation process involves simply visiting JailbreakMe from a supported iOS device and tapping "Free/Install" button to initiate the jailbreak.
The browser-based jailbreak process again exploits a flaw in Apple's PDF renderer that allows the tool to open up the device. Just like the previous vulnerability, Apple is expected to patch this one shortly. This same vulnerability could be exploited by malicious parties as well. The programmers of JailbreakMe are also providing a patch to close the security hole behind them for jailbroken users. Users of non-jailbroken iOS devices, however, will have to wait until Apple provides a fix.
More information and answers can be found in our respective "Hacks" forums for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
According to Fortune, the old title, iSteve: The Book of Jobs, chosen by the publisher's publicity department, wasn't a favorite around author Walter Isaacson's household. Isaacson has succeeded in getting a new title approved:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.
In 2010, it was first reported that Steve Jobs had agreed to participate in an authorized biography. The book is due on March 6th, 2012 and is already available for pre-order from Amazon.
Some Apple TV users have experienced errors connecting to Netflix over the holiday weekend, Netflix confirmed to Wired's Gadget Lab. Netflix claims the issues have been resolved, noting "we had a technical issue with a few devices that’s fixed now."
A number of readers posted in the MacRumors forums about the issues, receiving errors 111, 112 and 115 when attempting to watch a program on Netflix. The issue didn't seem to be caused by jailbreaking, or an older version of the Apple TV software and Netflix didn't give any hint as to the cause of the errors.
Users on other iOS devices, including the iPad and iPhone, were unaffected.
Apple had just over $65 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of the last fiscal quarter, according to the company's quarterly filing (PDF). Apple has so much cash, it was pointed out last month, that its cash on hand exceeds the market capitalization of Nokia, RIM, HTC and Motorola Mobility combined. If Apple had no revenue, its cash-on-hand would sustain operations through the middle of 2018, more than seven years.
What's Apple doing with all that cash? An anonymous writer on the Q&A site Quora opines that the company uses the money to small-scale strategic advantage, purchasing entire factories for suppliers and using that leverage to guarantee supply of components for Apple -- and no one else:
Apple has access to new component technology months or years before its rivals. This allows it to release groundbreaking products that are actually impossible to duplicate. Remember how for up to a year or so after the introduction of the iPhone, none of the would-be iPhone clones could even get a capacitive touchscreen to work as well as the iPhone's? It wasn't just the software - Apple simply has access to new components earlier, before anyone else in the world can gain access to it in mass quantities to make a consumer device. One extraordinary example of this is the aluminum machining technology used to make Apple's laptops - this remains a trade secret that Apple continues to have exclusive access to and allows them to make laptops with (for now) unsurpassed strength and lightness.
On the operational side of the house, as you probably remember, we've historically entered into certain agreements with different people to secure supply and other benefits. And the largest one in the recent past has been we signed a deal with several Flash suppliers back at the end of 2005 that totaled over $1 billion because we anticipated that Flash would become increasingly important across our entire product line and increasingly important to the industry. And so we wanted to secure supply for the company, and we think that, that was an absolutely fantastic use of Apple's cash. And we constantly look for more of these.
It is thought that Apple made another one of these deals earlier this year, agreeing to spend $3.9 billion on LCD panels. It was rumored that RIM's iPad competitor, the PlayBook, was delayed because RIM couldn't acquire enough LCD panels for production. Apple feels these payments are "very strategic" and a good use of their capital.
However, not everyone is impressed with this line of reasoning. One fund manager, Christopher Bonavico at Delaware investments, said Apple is "destroying value" by sitting on so much cash, and complained that the cash is "earning near zero". Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi said the cash pile has "been beyond the point of being rational for a while now."
Apple, for its part, seems perfectly happy to sit on the cash, which allows it to quickly make large purchases when strategically necessary.
While Apple took a fair amount of time developing the current copy-and-paste mechanism for iOS, holding off on releasing it until iPhone OS 3.0 in mid-2009, Microsoft's new update for its Bing for iPad app shows off an alternative method for text selection known as "Lasso". The technique allows users to select text to serve as the basis of Bing searches by simply drawing circles around the desired search terms.
From our research, we know that many searches are inspired by things people see on the web. Today, it can be somewhat painful to search on a tablet when you're engaged in reading something; just copying and pasting pieces of text from a webpage to a search box can take up to nine steps on the iPad. With Lasso you can circle and search in just two steps.
While support for the Lasso search method is of course limited to usage inside the Bing for iPad app, it offers an interesting glimpse at a usability concept that could make its way into other areas.
What you're seeing today is only the beginning. Lasso moves Bing beyond the search box. Although it will only be available in Bing for iPad to begin with, we're already thinking about how to take Lasso even further - so stay tuned.
In addition to Lasso, the new Version 1.1 update to Bing for iPad also adds enhanced movie listings and a host of other improvements.
Even before the iPhone launch on Verizon earlier this year, the carrier had announced that the unlimited data plans being offered with the device were a temporary program, set to be discontinued as soon as this summer in favor of tiered data packages.
Just two weeks ago, Verizon confirmed that it would be dropping the unlimited data plan in July, with leaks pinpointing the new data plans and a debut date of July 7th. Existing unlimited plan subscribers were said to be grandfathered in and thus able to keep their current plans after that date, even after upgrading their devices.
FierceWireless now reports that Verizon has confirmed the new offerings as previously leaked, with the new plans indeed set to go into effect this Thursday, July 7th.
Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney told FierceWireless that new smartphone customers will choose from one of four options: $10 for 75 MB per month, $30 for 2 GB, $50 for 5 GB or $80 for 10 GB. There will be an overage charge of $10 per GB of data. AT&T Mobility charges $15 per month for 200 MB and $25 per month for 2 GB.
Verizon has also confirmed that existing customers on the unlimited plan who upgrade their devices on or after July 7th will be able to keep their data plans.
Both Verizon and AT&T have confirmed that they are also looking into rolling out shared data plans across devices, following the lead of other international carriers already offering the plans. Under those plans, customers can draw from a single data allotment using multiple devices such as an iPhone and iPad, but Verizon and AT&T have yet to announce specific timeframes for rolling out such plans.
Update: FierceWireless has edited its story to clarify that the $10 plan offering 75 MB of data is available for feature phones and not for smartphones such as the iPhone.
In Mid-May, several app developers, for both iOS and Android, received legal notification from a patent holding company named Lodsys, claiming that certain functions of their apps (such as the In-App Purchasing mechanism that Apple offers to developers) were in infringement of Lodsys patents.
After Lodsys filed lawsuits against seven iOS developers, Apple attempted to intervene on behalf of the defendants, but Lodsys has continued to send out legal threats to developers. Because of the way patent litigation is designed in the United States, it is frequently considerably cheaper to settle with patent-holders rather than fight it out in court -- even if the defendant believes they are right, because of the extraordinary costs involved with patent litigation.
This past weekend, Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents penned a lengthly article outlining what he believes is the most cost-effective strategy for developers who must deal with Lodsys. He makes it clear that his post isn't meant to be "legal advice" but it is a good starting point for smaller developers who might now know where to begin:
It's time to be pragmatic.
Lodsys won't go away quickly unless Apple and Google pay them many millions of dollars (which could happen anytime but might also never happen). Meanwhile, each app developer who faces this problem should make a rational and responsible decision -- even if it means to pay. So far there's no indication that Android developers can get away without paying, and iOS developers don't have a dependable basis for ignoring Lodsys's insistent demands.
Mueller's conclusion? License the patents to make Lodsys go away and get back to building great apps.
Lodsys is only a risk for you, not an opportunity to get rid of trolls or of software patents. Eliminate the risk now. Follow the two-step approach. Try to get coverage. If not (which is the most likely outcome), do a license deal. Do all of this with legal help, but don't let any lawyer persuade you of futile efforts. Pick the most direct path to a solution. Share the costs with other app developers. And when you've solved this problem, focus on more important, more interesting, more productive and more edifying things in life.
As HP has sought to take on Apple in the tablet market with its webOS-powered TouchPad tablet, the PC giant has been dinged with a number of lukewarm reviews that suggest a fair amount of potential for the platform and device but with only a mediocre initial implementation.
Former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein, who led the development of the original iPod before leaving the company in 2006 to head up Palm's webOS effort and eventually moving to HP with that company's acquisition of Palm, has reportedly weighed in with a message to HP employees regarding the reviews, published by PreCentral. In the note, Rubinstein makes an interesting comparison between the TouchPad and the original Mac OS X as it debuted ten years ago.
We still have work to do to make webOS the platform we know it can be, but remember...it's a marathon, not a sprint.
In that spirit, Richard Kerris, head of worldwide developer relations for webOS, reminded me yesterday of the first reviews for a product introduced a little over ten years ago:
"...overall the software is sluggish" "...there are no quality apps to use, so it won't last" "...it's just not making sense...."
It's hard to believe these statements described MacOS X - a platform that would go on to change the landscape of Silicon Valley in ways that no one could have imagined.
Rubinstein is naturally optimistic in encouraging his staff to keep pressing forward to help webOS and its associated hardware meet expectations, and his unique perspective in having played key roles at Apple, Palm, and now HP enables him to see the parallels and offer conviction that webOS can overcome its challenges.
Palm's webOS has received a fair amount of praise for some aspects of its functionality, but the platform has yet to be a hit with consumers. But with HP putting significant weight behind the platform and moving it into the tablet space while considering licensing it to other major manufacturers, some have seen webOS as a strong contender to become a potential third major smartphone and tablet operating system for the future behind iOS and Android.