TechCrunch: Facebook’s iPad app and Project Spartan “about to launch”

Following-up on a Mashable story that Facebook will launch its long-awaited iPad app at Apple’s ‘Let’s talk iPhone’ media event next Tuesday, TechCrunch has just reported that Facebook’s iPad app is “about to launch”. It’s been ready to go for a while, writes author MG Siegler, and that goes for Project Spartan, too, an HTML5 web app store for Facebook apps. The Facebook for iPad app and Project Spartan are now “joined at the hip”, Siegler writes, noting “one will not launch without the other” (and Apple is cool with that).

Facebook’s iPad app is about to launch. That too has been ready to go for a while now, but it has been held up by some internal back-and-forth between Apple and Facebook. And Project Spartan has been waiting on that iPad app. [...] Earlier this week, Mashable reported that Facebook’s iPad app would launch at Apple’s iPhone event this coming Tuesday. For what it’s worth, we’ve heard Facebook is actually planning to launch the iPad app at their own iPad/Spartan event on Monday. But they’re still discussing all of this with Apple. And Apple has been well known to change things at the last second. It is possible that they want Facebook to launch this on stage at their event to showcase some of the new HTML5 capabilities of iOS 5 (which will also be formally unveiled at the event).

Apple is understood to have partnered with Facebook on Project Spartan and the social networking giant is said to tap tens of millions of iPhone users to get the word out.

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Nuance adds a bunch of popular search sources to Dragon Go! for iPhone

Nuance released Dragon Go! for the iPhone back in July and we praised the program’s combination of intelligent search capabilities coupled with Nuance’s phenomenal voice recognition technology. Today, Dragon Go! (free download) has been updated with a number of new services that the app taps to deliver accurate results based on your natural-language voice input. Specifically, they added support for Google+ public posts, media content on Netflix and Spotify and search engines Ask.com and Wolfram|Alpha.

Additionally, improved Yelp support now means you can access a map view right within Yelp. You will recall that Nuance powers speech-to-text integration in iOS 5 where a user just taps the microphone icon on the virtual keyboard, speaks aloud and the speech becomes text. The feature ties nicely to the Assistant, a surprise feature allegedly exclusive to iPhone 5 that lets you ask the handset to perform complex operations simply by speaking natural-language commands. Release notes after the break.

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Apple quietly issues firmware fix for Thunderbolt flickering issues on 24-inch LED Cinema Displays

MacRumors points to a thread on the Apple Discussion Forums where Apple posted a firmware fix for the flickering issue on the Apple 24-inch LED Cinema Display stemming from Thunderbolt. The problem is specifically related to the 24-inch LED Cinema Displays connected to your Thunderbolt-enabled Mac rather than the glitches on the 2011 MacBook Pro causing flickering and lock ups under heavy load. It should be applied only when the display is connected to a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac. It is interesting that Apple decided to release the fix on the forum rather than its Support Downloads page. From the release notes accompanying the 926KB download:

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iPad replaces another part of Hollywood: Take One – Movie Clapperboard review

The iPad application Take One – Movie Clapper is a great solution for anyone into film or making movies that wants a cheap and simple way to keep track takes, which assists in keeping filmed video and audio in synchronization. The major difference between Take One and its competitors is price and ease of use. Take One costs $2.99, compared to its $9.99 and $24.99 competitors – but offers an easy-to-use solution and all the necessary features one would expect from a Movie Clapper.

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iBookstore, iTunes music and movie stores arrive to EU countries

UPDATE [Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 5:35am ET]: Based on numerous reports and tips from our readers, iTunes music as well as movie rentals and purchases are now available in these twelve European Union countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Additionally, iBookstore is also live in 25 new EU countries (was only available in the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Australia and Canada before): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.

Licensing complications and the fragmented European Union market have proved thus far too tough a nut to crack for Apple’s iTunes Store which lacks the presence in twelve of the 27 EU member countries. If Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita is to be believed, things could change “soon” as Apple allegedly gears up to launch the iTunes Music Store in ten new countries in the European Union. This comes from “a person associated with the music industry”. Apple is “technically ready to take off” and another source hinted at an October launch.

The EU member states allegedly getting Apple’s music store include Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary which have a combined population of 60 million. As for the other seven EU member states getting iTunes, it’s anyone’s guess, but it’s worth mentioning that the UE markets where iTunes does not operate include Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Perhaps Apple will announce the iTunes Music Store expansion at its iPhone-related event next Tuesday. Meanwhile, reader Juri tipped us that iTunes movie rentals have just gone online in Finland, as you can see in the below screenshot. The Finnish iTunes store has no specific category for movie rentals yet, but it is possible to use the search feature to find and rent flicks for €3.99 (€4.99 for HD rentals, €13.99 per SD purchase).

It also looks like Apple is prepping to launch its movie store in Scandinavia and another reader, Frederik, says movie rentals and purchases hit the iTunes Denmark store. OneMoreThing.nl also spotted movies in the Dutch and Belgian iTunes Stores. Currently there are about 270 titles from 20th Century Fox, Universal and Buena Vista. Most movies are available for purchase or rent. No sign of TV shows yet. With that in mind, it’s easy to speculate that Apple TV may be showing up in those countries soon.

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Firefox 7 is out. Killer feature? Reduced memory use.

If you’re still on Firefox (Google’s Chrome is now #2 in the UK and some other countries), you’ll be delighted to learn that Mozilla today release Firefox 7, a major new update. Disregarding the obligatory housekeeping, under-the-hood tweaks, optimizations and bug fixes, Firefox 7 drastically reduces memory consumption over its infamous predecessors which have always been criticized for memory leakage problems. This, in turn, has particularly been a pain in the you-know-what on Mac OS X.

Well, according to Mozilla, a non-profit organization behind Firefox, a MemShrink project used in the browser reduces memory use by 20 to 50 percent. As a result, the browser boots faster, your Mac will have more free RAM when skimming through dozens of web sites in Firefox 7 and there’s a lower likelihood of crashing. A Mozilla representative said last week:

Among the Firefox 7 changes are some amazing memory improvements. When this makes it to users in just under 6 weeks, Mozilla will re-take the memory efficiency crown and give our users the highly responsive Firefox they deserve.

Other perks outlined in Mozilla’s blog post include an improved hardware-accelerated Canvas handling which offloads HTML5 animations to your graphics card, making games such as Angry Birds or Runfield run smoother. Firefox 7 also supports W3C’s navigation timing spec, allowing developers to test their page’s load speed remotely. Mozilla also announced the Android mobile version of Firefox which now includes copy and paste.

Firefox 7 is available in more than 70 languages on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. Grab your copy over at the Firefox download page or wait for the auto-updated mechanism to kick in and prompt you to update your existing Firefox 6 installation. Changelog is after the break.

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