iCloud.com video tour

Apple yesterday opened up its iCloud service for developers so they can integrate web-based documents storage into their apps. YouTube user helpfulmactips2010 (via MacRumors) provides this helpful video tour showing off the various features and the rich iCloud.com web interface that provides access to web apps which closely resemble the appearance of their iPad counterparts. This includes web-versions of Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Find My iPhone, iWork data storage and iPad-like “task switcher” at the bottom, as we showed you in our extensive screenshot gallery. It’s worth noting that web app icons are exact carbon-copies of their iOS versions. The web interface even sports iOS-style notifications and subtle animations. Apple has also revealed price points beyond the free 5GB of storage ($20 for 10GB, $40 for 20GB and $100 for 50GB a year) and released new versions of iWork for iOS and iPhoto for Mac to developers, featuring full iCloud support. And you gotta love those cute error messages, as shown in the screenshot below. More screenshots of error pages here and another video below the fold…

Read more

Skype for iPad goes live, has video and audio calling over both 3G and WiFi (update: back up)

Skype has finally released their native application for the Apple iPad. The application brings everything you love from the iPhone version to the iPad’s larger display. This includes instant messaging, audio chatting, and video conferencing. Just like the iPhone version, everything works over both WiFi and 3G cellular data networks.

• Join Skype on your iPad in a few moments or just sign straight in to your account.
• If you already have a Skype account, your Skype contacts will automatically be there on your iPad.
• We’ve made adding new Skype contacts really easy.
• Once they’re in your Contact list, call, video or instant message them in one touch.
• Flick through recent calls and instant messages in your Skype for iPad history.
• Skype for iPad works over Wi-Fi or 3G (operator data charges may apply). Call Skype contacts on their iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, PC, Mac and even Skype enabled TVs.

Users won’t find the new version as a free update to the iPhone and iPod touch download, but instead will find a brand new application called ‘Skype for iPad’ on the iTunes App Store. This application is, of course, free. The app seems to be available worldwide as of right now.

Update: Skype for iPad, for reasons unspecified, has been removed from the iOS App Store until further notice.

Updated 2: Skype is back up as of 8am EST.

Screenshots and release notes are after the break…

Read more

iOS devs banding together to shrug off legal intimidations by patent troll Lodsys

Some iOS developers have reportedly taken matter into their own hands, teaming up to create a joint opposition to serious legal threats coming from patent troll Lodsys which has been seeking to extract royalty fees from iOS developers small and big alike, including the likes of Atari, Rovio and Electronic Arts, the world’s biggest publisher of entertainment software on any platform. As you know, Lodsys is asserting its license to use patented in-app purchasing technology covers store owners Apple, Google and Microsoft, but not third-party developers that put their digital warez for sale on those stores. Per ArsTechnica story:

On Monday, renowned iOS developer Mike Lee announced the Appsterdam Legal Defense Team, which will be made up of indie developers fighting patent trolls as a single unit and funded by contributions from participating companies. The goal, aside from the obvious one of being free from frivolous patent lawsuits, is to become “the ants of East Texas, minding their business until someone invades their anthill.”

FOSS Patents, the intellectual property blog, reported last week that Lodsys opposed Apple’s motion for intervention. Apple’s response to Lodsys’s intimidations has been mild, to say the least. Apple filed a motion with the Eastern District of Texas to intervene as the defendant in a lawsuit from Lodsys in June. The company ambiguously asserting it might step up in defense of third-party developers targeted by the patent troll firm. Apple’s deafening silence had even prompted EFF to issue call to arms, demanding that Apple protects its developers.

Read more

Google search on iPad gets a sexy new interface, continuous scroll

The new icons are bigger so you can filter search results without sanding down your finger.

Google last month announced a bunch of enhancements to its search engine and today they confirmed via a blog post an overhauled layout on iPad and other (read: Android) tablets, just two days after the blog Digital Inspirations leaked the new UI. From now , running a query by visiting http://www.google.com in your iPad’s browser produces an iPad-optimized layout in search results.

Gone is the left-hand column that had ridiculously tiny search controls, making room for bigger buttons and more white space which is definitely a lot easier on the eyes. It’s surprising how long it has taken Google to optimize web search experience on tablets, really. Now you can finally hit the controls on smaller tablets without having to sand down your finger first.

Our favorite: The big buttons right below the search box for quick access to specific search silos, such as Web, Images, News and so forth. Also noteworthy, image results are  now way more attractive due to larger previews and they continuous scroll – just reach the bottom of the page and a new batch of images will load automatically. The new layout will be available on iPad and Android Honeycomb 3.1 tablets and in 36 languages “in the coming days”, everyone’s favorite search monster noted. Another pretty screenshot right below.
Read more

Microsoft confirms planned Lion features in Office for Mac 2011

If you’re a Communicator for Mac user, you no doubt were disappointed finding out that the software crashes a lot in Lion. Worry not, as Microsoft tells us via a blog post that an update is due via the Microsoft AutoUpdate mechanism “in the next day or so”. The team’s Pat Fox also revealed that some of the most exciting features in Lion are coming to Office for Mac 2011:

Yes, we are working hard with Apple to enable versioning, auto save, and full-screen for Office for Mac 2011. I know your next question will be “when?”, and unfortunately I can’t answer that – but it’s likely measured in months not days – just to set expectations.

And if your daily productivity involves Office for Mac 2004, Microsoft warned earlier, don’t upgrade to Lion because Office 2004 was a PowerPC-based product and Lion no longer includes Rosetta, a software emulator for the PowerPC instruction set. It’s nice that major software developers are adding Versions, Auto Save and Full Screen to their apps. Are you listening, Adobe?

Read more

BBC iPlayer goes global, coming to US soon

Guardian reports that BBC iPlayer will launch in eleven European countries, coming later this year to United States. The subscription-based service that streams some of the finest BBC programming launched its iPad app today in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. In those markets, BBC iPlayer will require a monthly fee of 7 Euros. The app provides on-demand access to BBC’s popular news and documentaries, in addition to both archive and most recent shows such as Doctor Who and Top Gear. Initially, BBC’s catalogue will include about 1,500 hours of content, with a hundred hours added each week.

In the US, BBC.com managing director Luke Bradley-Jones told the publication, will go head to head with the likes of Hulu and Netflix subscriptions and the low monthly fee of eight bucks should help BBC compete with those content providers on their own turf. You can download the app free on App Store in select markets, but note the system won’t let you stream content unless you access it from one of the supported countries. Another goodie for international viewers: Content can be streamed over 3G cellular networks and individual episodes can be downloaded for offline viewing. Interestingly, the team worked closely with Apple on the offline feature, Smith explains:

Read more