NYTimes for iPad, Facebook Messenger, Aperture, Printer Pro for iPhone, FX Photo Studio, more

NYTimes for iPad version 2.5.3: The New York Times has updated its iPad app today with optimizations for the new iPad’s smaller display:

- Optimized for the iPad Mini

Facebook Messenger version 2.02: On top of “other improvements and bug fixes,” Facebook has added the ability to give feedback about its iOS Messenger app from within settings:

What’s New in Version 2.0.2
- Visit your settings to give feedback about the app
- Other improvements and bug fixes

FX Photo Studio version 2.6:

- MacBook Pro Retina display support
- Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion compatibility
- New look
- Overall memory usage and performance improvements
- Color processing improvements
- Enhanced adjustment for all filters
- Bug fixes

Aperture 3.4.3:

-Addresses an issue that could cause a licensed copy of Aperture to prompt for a serial number with each launch

iDisplay Mini: A new iPhone and iPod touch only version of the app that allows you to use your iOS device as a second screen for Mac or PC is out today. Instead of getting the $5 universal app, you can get this iPhone only version for 99 cents.

Shazam version 2.8.0: Read more

Apple’s manufacturing jobs in China comes up in US presidential debates, both candidates give their opinion [Video]

One of the last questions in the debate concerned how to bring Apple’s manufacturing jobs ‘back’ to the United States.

Mitt Romney went first and said China is stealing intellectual property, designs, cheating on currency, hacking into computers, and isn’t playing fair to U.S. workers: “We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level.”

Obama went second and said the U.S. doesn’t necessarily want the low-skill, low-wage jobs and education and skills will bring higher-paying jobs home: “There are some jobs that are not going to come back. [...] I want high-wage, high-skill jobs. That’s why we have to invest in advanced manufacturing [...] make sure that we have the best science and research in the world.”

And the President should know: Steve Jobs told Obama in February 2011, according to Walter Isaacson, “If you could educate these [30,000] engineers, we could move more manufacturing plants here.”

The New York Times dived deep on this and probably has better answers than either politician.

[UPDATED with full transcript below]

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Swedish ‘iWatch’ concept features FaceTime, Retina display [Photos]

The New York Times reported in December that a small group of people at Apple were “conceptualizing and even prototyping some wearable devices,” so we posted Federico Ciccarese’s creepy take on a wearable, curved-glass iOS device last week. Now, Swedish designer Anders Kjellberg introduces his iteration of the tech with an “iWatch” concept featuring FaceTime.

The mockup touts a Retina display, an 8-megapixel camera with HD and FaceTime capabilities, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Airplay support, a built-in, rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, 16 GB of storage, accelerometer, proximity and ambient light sensors, and eight customizable wristbands. Oh, and iTunes and apps—of course.

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Review: Logitech Ultrathin iPad Keyboard Cover will kickstart your transition from consumption to creation

The one standout feature of the Microsoft Surface Tablet in our eyes was the keyboard cover. But is it that great? No one outside Redmond knows because Microsoft did not let anyone touch it at the press event.

But, if you can handle a paltry extra 4mm of thickness with the addition of real keys, an iPad aluminum-matched protective cover, and a built in stand, Logitech already has Microsoft beat in my eyes.

Enter the $99 Logitech Ultrathin iPad Keyboard Cover for iPad 2 and the new iPad. It uses the same magnets as Apple’s “smart” accessories to clip on and activate the iPad, but it is a rigid enclosure that matches the back of the iPad and turns it into the proverbial Apple netbook. It offers screen protection, but the back and sides are not protected.› So, you will not want to drop test this setup.

This is not just a repurposed PC/Mac keyboard either. It has dedicated iPad keys across the top including the very useful home button, volume keys, editing keys, and play/pause.

I have been using it since it unveiled two months ago. Here is my take:

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Apple rescinds: New Mac Pro is no longer ‘new’

Apple’s website listed the refreshed Mac Pro as “new” after the opening keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday, but complaints from critics, including an ex-Apple engineer, likely spurred the company to remove the alerting icon.

Former Apple engineer and current Google employee Andy Hertzfeld expressed his disappointment in the new Mac Pro through a Google+ post this morning. He said the high-end desktop “seems like it’s stuck in time in 2010″ and only received an “inconsequential processor clock bump.”

Apple unveiled an all-new MacBook Air and Pro lineup during its keynote, but the company did not announce any updates to its Mac Pro. The blogosphere jumped online to gobble up the notebooks, where they finally discovered the Mac Pro’s minor spec-bump listed under the familiar “new” notation. Since then, the Cupertino, Calif.-based Company has been under-fire for displaying the machinery as new when it only boasts a few slight changes.

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Apple to include Facebook integration in iOS 6

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook hinted this past week during his interview at D10 that we could expect closer ties with Facebook and to “stay tuned” when asked about Twitter-like integration in iOS. Now, according to a report from TechCrunch, the much-anticipated integration of Facebook will happen in “the latest version of iOS.” There are not many details provided by the report, but it did note Apple is still trying to decide “exactly how sharing will work” and that things could change before iOS 6 is unveiled:
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Amtrak ditches hole puncher for iPhone, new service tool scans tickets (Photos)

Government-owned railroad service Amtrak is set to use Apple’s iPhone and a new app as an electronic ticket scanner.

The New York Times reported that train conductors have been training to use the tech during select routes since November. The addition allows passengers to load a specific bar code on their smartphone screens that the conductor can scan for tracking purposes. Of course, passengers can still print their tickets per usual for Amtrak’s iPhones to scan.

Amtrak said 1,700 conductors would use the iPhone on routes across the country by late summer. The iOS device will come with a case containing an extra battery and a bar-code scanner. It will also come equipped with an app for scanning and indicating special conditions, such as whether passengers are disabled— and when and where they are departing— for coordinating a wheelchair lift. The app will even enable conductors to report the train’s mechanical failures.

The NYT article does not mention it, but 9to5Mac discovered mobile and emerging technologies developer Übermind claims to be the brain child behind the app’s shiny, new features. It’s website provided a few images (below) that depict what Amtrak described when detailing the iPhone’s case, battery, and app:

“Paper tickets are so 19th century. We ushered Amtrak’s conductors into the 21st century with our workforce automation solution. The bottom line for Amtrak: better customer service, better labor relations, and real-time business intelligence. Riders, taking the train just got fun again. [..] We worked with Amtrak to design and implement the engaging Digital Passport feature within Amtrak’s passenger iPhone app. With the personalized passport, riders can earn stamps for travel, share achievements to social networks, and view a map overlay of personal ridership stats. Train Masters, wanted.”

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Senator Tom Coburn says he’s ‘absolutely livid’ about Apple’s tax practices

Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma appeared on “Morning Joe” earlier this morning to talk the debt crisis. During the interview, a question came up about a piece The New York Times ran this weekend that discussed Apple’s tactics of legally skirting billions in taxes each year by using tax havens like Nevada, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Virgin Islands. Keep in mind: These practices are perfectly legal and other large companies are doing the same. However, when the Senator was asked about the topic, Coburn sternly replied that he’s “absolutely livid.”

As a solution to the issue, Coburn said that the nation needs to “reform the tax code,” which he said will lead to economic growth. The senator also said he has begun work with Michigan Senator Carl Levin to look into how Apple is doing this. The big thing it looks like the senator wants to do is bring the funds from these larger companies back into the United States to help put more money back into the economy—obviously through large taxes.

Apple currently has $74 billion of its money off-shores, and it is pushing, along with other companies, for a tax-holiday where it could bring its money back into the U.S at a cut tax rate. Apple responded to the NYT piece on Sunday:

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Don’t hate the player, hate the game -NYTimes’ ‘How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes’

The New York Times delves into a divisive subject in American politics right now: Tax avoidance. Apple, like most international companies, sidesteps many California, United States, European, etc., taxes by using tax havens like Nevada, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Virgin Islands.

The problem for the protagonists is that this is all very legal and practiced by just about every multi-national company in the interest of remaining competitive and maximizing stockholder share. Like most matters of this sort, the problem lies with the laws and loopholes that allow this to happen. Big companies spend a lot of money on lobbyists making sure that those loopholes do not get closed.

What may not be terribly patriotic are Apple, Google, Cisco, and other’s lobbying efforts against paying U.S. taxes on repatriating their overseas earnings. Apple currently has $74 billion overseas and a “tax holiday” on bringing that money and over $1 trillion from other companies back into the U.S. could cost the U.S. federal government $79B, according to the report. (Great Graphic at Bloomberg on why the $1 trillion holiday is likely going to happen.)

Apple responded to the NYT below:

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Foxconn spokesman: ‘I am happy that the truth prevails, I am glad that Mike Daisey’s lies were exposed.’

Foxconn seems to be happy about the news late last week that Mike Daisy’s monologue about his Foxconn ‘findings’ was mostly fabricated from news reports.

In a statement to Businessweek, Louis Woo, spokesman for Taipei-based Foxconn said:

“I am happy that the truth prevails, I am glad that Mike Daisey’s lies were exposed. But I don’t think that the reports about this have gone far enough to find out what exactly is the truth. People will have the impression that Foxconn is a bad company, so I hope they will come and find out for themselves,”

Daisey was exposed via an NPR reporter that contacted his translator Cathey Lee who denied just about every part of Daisey’s story. Daisey, for his part, responded:

I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity. Certainly, the comprehensive investigations undertaken by The New York Times and a number of labor rights groups to document conditions in electronics manufacturing would seem to bear this out.

Daisey has been forced to stop his show but did receive a standing ovation following its last performance this weekend.

Critics of Foxconn say that they aren’t off the hook.

Update: Daisy has a new blog post out with this: Read more

Rumor wrap-up: Apple’s new iPad and 1080P Apple TV media event

In the weeks and months before Apple’s media events, the newswires are stormed by tons of reports about Apple’s upcoming announcements. Due to the frenzy, it is hard to keep track of who said what and when. Therefore, we are putting together the more notable calls and how those reports turned out:

We did this for the iPhone 4S in October 2011, and this is our Apple iPad and Apple TV media event rumor wrap-up:

What came true?

March 7 keynote: In early FebruaryAllThingsD called for an Apple iPad media event during the first week of March. At that time, we speculated a March 7 keynote due to the availability at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center (the location where Apple likes to hold these events) and Apple’s recent fondness for Wednesday events. iMore later outright reported on a March 7 third-generation iPad announcement.

Pre-orders and availability: The first clue at when Apple would publicly release the new iPad was when we broke the news that Apple would open a new store in London’s Harrods on March 16. In the days leading up to the event, our sources confirmed a March 16 launch in the United States and other countries, and these sources also pinpointed more international launches for the following Friday. In terms of pre-orders, we pinpointed a March 7 pre-order date for the new iPad.

The design: iLounge, which typically offers accurate Apple design information, perhaps because of its close relations with case manufacturers, was first to pinpoint an iPad 2-like design for the new iPad. It also said that this new design would be roughly half a millimeter thicker than the iPad 2′s design–which it is. In the weeks running up to the iPad’s announcement, The New York Times chimed in and said the design would be very similar to the iPad 2′s design.

Apple TV announcement: We first noticed shortages in the Apple TV supply chain on Feb 12. While some called the launch of an Apple TV at the iPad event ludicrous (30:00), “because it would take the focus away from the main attraction,” we broke the news that Apple would launch a new Apple TV model at the third-generation iPad event. At the time, we said that the new iPad would launch with a 1080P video service, and we pinpointed the device’s new Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities and J33 codename in the months’ prior. We also found Apple TV 3,1 references several months ago.

Siri Dictation: One of the notable features of the new iPad is its Siri Dictation support. It is a feature that allows users to dictate what they would like to type instead of using Apple’s touch-screen keyboard. In January, we broke the news that Siri Dictation would make its way to the new iPad thanks to some leftover strings in the early iOS 5.1 beta.

LTE: One of the most important upgrades in the new iPad is the new wireless system. Besides the new Bluetooth 4.0 and HSPA+ capabilities, the new LTE integration will do wonders for attachment loading, web browsing, and video watching. In August 2010, way before the “iPad 3″ rumors started running at full-force, we reported that Apple was field-testing iOS 5 devices with LTE chips. We also said that the next-generation iPad was a very likely candidate to be a LTE device. In January, Bloomberg reported that the new iPad would sport LTE connectivity, then WSJ, iMore, and Reuters each followed up in the weeks after. The morning of the iPad event, Mr. X “confirmed” that 4G iPads would be sold worldwide.

The cameras: Alongside the third-generation iPad casing leaks came speculation surrounding the new iPad’s cameras. With the hole being bigger for the camera lens in the case leaks, many figured the new iPad would sport either the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S camera. In the end, Apple merged the two ideas into what it is calling the “iSight” camera. As for the new iPad, this means the merging of the iPhone 4′s 5-megapixel shooter and the iPhone 4S’s advanced, custom optics system.

Retina Display: The Retina Display was perhaps the most rumored feature in the new iPad. After all, the 2,048-by-1, 536-resolution screen is the new iPad’s headline feature. Several news websites threw in their own sourcing for a Retina Display “iPad 3,” but it seems that the very first reports on a Retina Display iPad 3 (not iPad 2) came from analysts. The first major publication to confirm a Retina Display was the WSJ in August 2011, and MacRumors notably acquired a 2,048-by-1, 536 display in the weeks preceding Apple’s early March media event.

Pricing: We were able to report that new iPad prices would stay at the original iPad and iPad 2 price points ($499 to $829) a week before the event. We also said capacities would stay the same–which they did.

B82: We had all kinds of high-hopes for this $39 mystery accessory, but it turned out to be an updated Apple Digital AV Adapter (this)

Processor: The new iPad’s processor situation came to an atypical end. While reliable publications like Bloomberg and iMore claimed that the new iPad would include a quad-core processor, The Verge reported that it would stay dual core but would include better graphics performance. The result was actually a combination of the two: The new iPad sports an A5X processor with a dual-core processing unit, but it adds quad-core graphics. Confusion and situations involving “broken telephone” between sources and publications seems likely here, but do not worry… Apple is still working on that promised quad-core CPU.

What did not happen?

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Group plans disruptive protest tomorrow at Apple’s Grand Central Store over Foxconn conditions

Consumer groups SumOfUs and Change.org are waging a war over the working conditions at Apple’s (and the rest of the electronics industry’s) main outsourced manufacturer Foxconn. The groups said that over 35,000 people signed their “Stop Worker Abuse” online petition in just 24 hours. Today, the groups announced they would deliver a quarter million petition signatures to Apple.

Furthermore, a protest will be staged tomorrow at 10 a.m. outside Apple’s new Grand Central Terminal retail store and representatives from both SumOfUs and Change.org promised to join the protesters. Change.org’s Mark Shields called abusive working conditions at Foxconn factories “appalling,” adding he was shocked to learn about them.

The two consumer groups are demanding that the iPhone maker release a worker protection strategy for new product releases because these are the instances “when injuries and suicides typically spike because of the incredible pressure to meet quotas timed to releases.” They are also pressuring Apple to publish the results of Fair Labor Association’s audit (to which the company willfully agreed): “Including the NAMES of the suppliers found to have violations and WHAT those violations are, so that there is transparency around the monitoring effort.” The petition (found here) opens with an interesting paragraph:

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