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Facebook to Launch iPad App, Preparing Web-Based Mobile Platform

The New York Times reports that Facebook is finally set to release a free iPad app "in coming weeks", remedying a curious omission for the social networking service that touts over 600 million users worldwide.People briefed on Facebook's plans say that in coming weeks the company plans to introduce a free iPad application that has been carefully designed and optimized for the tablet. The app has been in production at Facebook for almost a year, going through several design iterations, and is now in the final stages of testing, according to these people, who declined to be named because they were discussing confidential product plans.Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who along with other company executives noted last November that the company was still been trying to decide how best to handle the iPad, is said to have been "heavily involved" in the app's development.People who have seen the application said it has a slick design that has been tailored for the iPad and its touchscreen interface. Facebook developers and designers have also overhauled the Facebook Chat and Facebook Groups features for the application. And the app will go beyond the features available on the Facebook Web site by allowing users to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the iPad’s built-in cameras.Facebook's iPad app comes just as TechCrunch reports that the company is preparing to launch a new HTML5-based mobile platform codenamed "Project Spartan" that would take on iOS on its home turf by running within the mobile Safari browser.As of right now, there are believed to be 80

More Claims of NFC Capabilities in 'Coming Iteration' of iPhone

The New York Times reports that Apple is in fact looking to deploy a new Qualcomm chip to bring Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities to the iPhone, although the report stops short of claiming that the technology will appear in the fifth-generation iPhone presumably scheduled for launch in the June-July timeframe. According to two people with knowledge of the inner workings of a coming iteration of the Apple iPhone - although not necessarily the next one - a chip made by Qualcomm for the phone's processor will also include near-field communication technology, known as N.F.C. This technology enables short-range wireless communications between the phone and an N.F.C reader, and can be used to make mobile payments. It is unclear which version of an iPhone this technology would be built into.According to one source familiar with the implementation, the NFC technology would be harnessed to allow users to easily make mobile payments tied to their iTunes Store accounts. Apple's interest in NFC and RFID technologies for mobile applications has been evident for some time based on patent applications and hiring moves, but exactly what the company plans to do with the technology and when it will implement it has remained unclear. A report from last fall indicated that Apple plans to use it to create wireless "portable remote computing" platforms that could allow users to make their own applications and documents available on other computers. Meanwhile, one analyst claimed in late January that the NFC technology would finally make its appearance in the iPad 2 and iPhone

Media Event for Next-Generation iPad Set for March 2nd? [Updated]

All Things Digital reports that Apple has scheduled a media event for March 2nd where the company is expected to introduce the next-generation iPad. To those who intensely cares about this kind of stuff - which would be pretty much everyone in the tech ecosystem - Apple will hold its much-anticipated event on March 2, where the tech giant seems poised to unveil a new version of its hugely successful iPad. As in, iPad 2! Or, as BoomTown is now officially nicknaming it: iPad Too!According to the report's sources, the scheduled date is firm, and the event will take place in San Francisco. Apple has generally held its San Francisco media events at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. It's not clear when Apple will begin sending out its famous invites for gathering, but I am guessing soon, in order to get the Apple faithful to the proper level of froth.Late yesterday, a rumor surfaced claiming that the second-generation iPad would not launch until June, but multiple sources have refuted that claim today. Update: Reuters has also updated its earlier story refuting claims of iPad delays to note that it is also hearing that Apple will introduce the next-generation iPad on March 2nd. One person familiar with the matter said recent speculation about a delay until June was "simply not true" as Apple is planning a launch in the same seasonal schedule as the first iPad, which went on sale in April 2010. Apple will host an event on March 2, where the company is expected to take the wraps off the newest iPad model, an individual with knowledge of the situation said. Apple

Apple Not Planning to Launch a Smaller iPhone

The NYTimes reports that although Apple is working on making a cheaper iPhone as well as integrating voice commands, the company is not planning on launching a smaller iPhone: But contrary to published reports, Apple is not currently developing a smaller iPhone, according to people briefed on Apple's plans who requested anonymity because the plans are confidential.The next generation iPhone is being worked on by Apple engineers, and according to the newspaper it is "likely to be similar in size" to the current iPhone. A smaller screen would require developers to rewrite Apps to accommodate the new form factor -- an issue Apple hopes to avoid. Apple executives also note that they plan on dropping the price of the previous model when the new model is introduced. That means the iPhone 4 will likely take the place of the $49 iPhone 3GS when a new model is introduced. The NYTimes piece, however, does seem to confirm some of the details given in the original Wall Street Journal report. Notably, Apple is working on making it easier to use voice commands to navigate the device. Apple is also working on changing some of the internal components to reduce costs to possibly sell versions of the iPhone at a cheaper price. "Although the innards of the phone, including memory size or camera quality, could change to offer a less expensive model, the size of the device would not vary," said the person, who has worked on multiple versions of the device.Meanwhile, the details of the new MobileMe also seem similar. They believe the new MobileMe would be free and allow users to

Steve Jobs Taking New Medical Leave of Absence [Updated]

Apple today issued a media advisory revealing that Steve Jobs has been granted a "medical leave of absence" from the company. Jobs plans to continue serving as CEO, although Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will oversee Apple's day to day operations during Jobs' absence. Apple CEO Steve Jobs today sent the following email to all Apple employees: Team, At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company. I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple's day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011. I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy. SteveNo timetable for his expected return has been given. Jobs had previously suffered from pancreatic cancer and had reportedly been cured of the disease back in 2004. But Jobs announced in January 2009 that he would be taking a six-month leave of absence for medical reasons. It was later revealed that he received a liver transplant during that time. Update: The New York Times reports on a source claiming that Jobs has been suffering from "ups and downs" typical of those dealing with immune system issues related to liver transplants, but that Jobs had recently scaled back his activities at Apple as one of those down cycles began in

NY Times Confirms Verizon iPhone for Next Year

The New York Times adds their confirmation that Apple is planning to launch a Verizon iPhone early next year. After more than three years of using only AT&T cellphone networks, Apple is now making a version of the iPhone 4 for Verizon's network, according to a person who is in direct contact with Apple. Apple and Verizon will begin selling the phone early next year, said the person, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity because the plans were supposed to be confidential and he did not want to alienate his contacts at Apple.The report comes just days after the Wall Street Journal similarly reported that Apple was going to ramp up production of a Verizon iPhone later this year for an early 2011 launch. This is not the first time that we've seen rumors for a Verizon iPhone, though the combination of sources from both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal adds to the credibility of this round of rumors. Interesting to note is that Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg will be keynoting the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show on January 6th,

Microsoft and Adobe Executives Meet to Discuss Apple, Possible Merger

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen (left) and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (right) The New York Times reports that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other executives recently held a secret meeting with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen to discuss a number of topics, including how the two companies might work together to take on Apple in the mobile industry, as well as a possible acquisition of Adobe by Microsoft. Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, recently showed up with a small entourage of deputies at Adobe's corporate offices in San Francisco to hold a secret meeting with Adobe's chief executive, Shantanu Narayen. The meeting, which lasted over an hour, covered a number of topics, but one of the main thrusts of the discussion was Apple and its control of the mobile phone market and how the two companies could partner in the battle against Apple. A possible acquisition of Adobe by Microsoft were among the options.One source indicates that representatives of the two companies discussed Apple's refusal to support the viewing of Flash content on its mobile devices and how a partnership between the companies might offer them additional leverage against Apple's gains in the sector. A second source reveals that executives revisited the possibility of an acquisition of Adobe by Microsoft, a proposal that was briefly floated several years ago before being abandoned over fears that the merger would not pass muster under antitrust regulations. With the growth of Apple and Google, however, those concerns may be less now than they were at the time of the initial discussions.

iPhone 4 Signal Issue Can Be Fixed With a Software Update?

Despite the fact that today's release of iOS 4.0.1 addressed only the display of signal strength on the iPhone and not actual signal attenuation issues caused by touching the antenna in the side of the iPhone 4, a software fix may yet still be possible. According to The New York Times, the signal attenuation issue is the result of an interaction between communication software within the device's operating system and the antenna, an issue that could presumably be addressed with a software update. One person with direct knowledge of the phone's design said Thursday that the iPhone 4 exposed a longstanding weakness in the basic communications software inside Apple's phones and that the reception problems were not caused by an isolated hardware flaw. Instead, the problems emerged in the complex interaction between specialized communications software and the antenna, said the person, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.The source also indicates that Apple CEO Steve Jobs did not learn of the signal issue until after the iPhone 4 began shipping, seemingly refuting a report from Bloomberg earlier today claiming that Jobs had been tipped off early in the design process that the antenna design could cause a problem. The person said the problems were longstanding but had been exposed by the design of the iPhone 4. All cellphones can be affected by the way a hand grips the phone, but well-designed communications software compensates for a variety of external factors and prevents calls from dropping, the person

New York Times: Apple Gearing Up to Take Apple TV to the Next Level

The New York Times reports that Apple is preparing to launch a significant revamp of its television-related offerings, targeting at least a software overhaul for the company's Apple TV while an entirely new hardware product remains a possibility. According to the report's sources, Apple has recently hired a number of new user interface designers with backgrounds in television broadcast design as the company seeks to modify its iOS platform for use in the living room. They said it was not clear whether the company would create an entirely new product as well as updating the software. They also said Apple might base a new television design on its iOS operating system, which is on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.Notably, one former Apple employee reported that much of the work has been taking place outside of the company's Apple TV group, suggesting that an entirely new hardware product might be in the works. Just over a month ago, Engadget reported that Apple is preparing a dramatic overhaul of the Apple TV hardware, planning to offer a new device "based directly on the iPhone 4" with the capability for 1080p HD output and only limited onboard storage, as the device would primarily stream media from the Internet. The revamped Apple TV was also said to be set to carry a price tag of only $99. On a separate note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster today released a report continuing to beat his drum predicting a future Internet-connected television from Apple. He sees the inclusion of an HDMI port on the new Mac mini and the rumors of a revamped Apple TV set-top box

A Multi-Touch iPhone OS Layer On Top of Mac OS X?

In a NYTimes' blog post, Nick Bilton describes how PCs aren't as easy to use as the iPhone, and explores why the iPhone OS simply can't be used in a future iteration of Mac OS X. Bilton quotes a former senior Apple engineer who explains that implementing global multi-touch support onto the existing Mac OS X would be a hard task. While Apple has added multi-touch features into a few apps, the whole OS simply wasn't designed for touch input. However, Bilton's source then raises the interesting possibility of adding iPhone OS as a layer on top of Mac OS X -- much like how Front Row presently works. Front Row is Apple's media center software for the Mac which adopts an Apple TV-like interface. When invoked, the entire Mac OS X desktop fades out, leaving a TV-friendly navigation system that looks nothing like Mac OS X. What's been suggested is that Apple could adopt a iPhone OS layer that would greatly simplify tasks for some users. Now, it's not clear if this was actually something Apple had been actively exploring or if it was just presented as speculative option by Bilton's source, but we felt it was an interesting topic of discussion. Apple's iPad has been felt to represent this shift to an easier computing paradigm. The iPad is essentially the iPhone OS on a larger form factor, but it's that larger size that introduces new possibilities that encroach on the functionality of current

Apple Working on Advanced Gesturing and Multi-Touch Version of iWork

The New York Times offers some additional tidbits that might come in the rumored Apple Tablet. According to former Apple employees, Apple has been working on advanced multi-touch gesturing that was originally pioneered by FingerWorks. Apple acquired FingerWorks a number of years ago and has been leveraging their multi-touch technology in their latest products. This news shouldn't be particularly surprising for anyone who has been following Apple for the past few years. The most interesting report from the article is that Apple is said to have "spent the past couple of years working on a multitouch version of iWork". Such a version of iWork would presumably allow the upcoming Apple tablet to be used for document creation rather than solely content consumption. It would also blur the lines between the functions of tablet and that of a more traditional laptop computer. Apple is rumored to be introducing their tablet computer later this