June 20, 2011

Pictured above: The free TiVo for iPad app, released in January 2011

It’s been known for a while that TiVo is working on new companion apps for iOS devices and they already have a free iPad app which acts as a simple remote control for the Premiere box. The June issue of CEPro magazine sheds more light on the upcoming software, quoting Bard Williams, director of retail and channel marketing for TiVo:

It offers a beautiful, easy-to-use interface; complete control over management and program selection, a multi-touch remote that features gestures-based navigation, and the ability to manage and navigate Season Pass recording, your queue and info about cast, crew, similar shows – without interrupting your TV experience. When you’re not at home, the app still lets you interact with your Premiere for basic management and recording tasks.

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Adobe this morning announced a slew of software updates to Flash Builder and the Flex framework that will enable developers to create projects for iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry PlayBook, in addition to Android support which was added in April. Flash Builder and Flex, both now at version 4.5, are included in Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Master Collection, but can be bought separately as well ($249 for Flash Builder Standard, Premium version is $669). Adobe’s Puneet Goel boasted about the release in a blog post:

As a result, developers can quickly build and distribute apps through the Android Market, BlackBerry App World and Apple App Store using one tool chain, programming language and code base—a first for developers!

Adobe shows off how easy it is to create Flex and ActionScript applications and deploy them on a variety of  mobile platforms via Adobe AIR in a video here. They are obviously doing a great work enabling developers to write code once and compile and run it on major mobile platforms with minimal changes. If they only matched that with smooth run-time performance…

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June 18, 2011

The News Corp.-owned New York Post started blocking iPad readers who use Safari today.  Instead of showing content on the iPad, it gives a link to the NYPost App with the following statement:

Thanks for coming! NYPOST.com editorial content is now only accessible on the iPad through the New York Post App. If you are a current New York Post App subscriber, please visit the App Store and download the latest version to access NYPOST.com through the INDEX. If you are not a current New York Post App user and would like to subscribe, please download from theApp Store. Thank you.

Subscriptions run $6.99 per month, $39.99 for six months or $79.99 for the year, with no option for single-issue digital purchases.  News Corp also launched The Daily magazine earlier this year, the first Tablet-only daily magazine.

If the NYPost wasn’t total garbage anyway, I’d be upset.  Hopefully the backlash from this move discourages others from copying this game plan.

Interestingly, Skyfire and Opera Mini still work (below).

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June 17, 2011

Nortel decided to extend the deadline for the start of the auction for its patents until June 27 citing “significant interest” from third parties. Today we learn that two Silicon Valley giants are significantly interested in Nortel’s war chest of more than five thousand wireless patents said to be worth well over a billion dollars. They are Apple and Intel, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Other bidders include Ericsson AB and a company called RPX Corp which “defensively buys up patents on behalf of other companies to stop them from being used against them by investors”. expand full story

Illustration courtesy of All Things D

“They are resting on their laurels. Steve Jobs is a much better marketer than RIM”. When your sixth-largest investor gives you such an embarrassing thumbs down, it is the worst vote of confidence you could have asked for. But that’s exactly what Stephen Jarislowsky, chairman of Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd., an investor in Research In Motion, told Bloomberg explaining why he was dumping his shares. Some investors are obviously spooked by RIM’s disappointing first-quarter results and the layoffs the company announced as it puts a plan in place to re-align operations. Second-quarter and full-year outlook is also below expectations. “We are on the way out. The stake has been reduced by more than 50% or even more”, Fraser tells the publication.

This whole week has been a downhill ride for shares of the Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry maker. Just today, RIM tanked 19 percent in after-hours trading, loosing one fifth of their market valuation as a result. And in what could be read as an attempt to boost its stock price, RIM announced a stock repurchase program.

Wow, what’s going on here?

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Steve Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsi to work as Apple’s CEO in the 1980s with the now famous line: “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Sculley took the job immediately. “It was like someone just knocked wind out of my stomach”, he would say decades later. However, he would later earn notoriety for helping fire Jobs after an attempted boardroom coup in 1985. Today, Sculley is lavishing praise on Apple’s boss.

Though the board had later kicked Sculley out of the picture over market share loss due to cheap Windows PCs taking over, plummeting sales and a series of missed deadlines, he partially takes credit today for Apple’s experience focused success. In an exclusive interview with Electricpig, Sculley says:

Steve and I hit it off because he believed computers would eventually need to be sold like packaged goods. I said, Steve, let’s sell the experience of a lifestyle. It was always about selling the experience and that was what interested Steve. If you look at Apple today everything is sold on experience.

He also talked about the differences between Apple and Microsoft and credited Steve for single-handedly launching the mobile revolution:

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June 16, 2011

Apple’s App Store is a nice venue to discover iOS software, but it’s far from perfect – especially when browsing its virtual shelves on your device. The iTunes Preview site – as well as other web and smartphone tools like AppShopper – all help find that needle in a haystack, but they also impose annoying limitations.

Not surprisingly, Google and Microsoft wouldn’t drill through their index in order to create a dedicated search page for mobile warez so Yahoo! took it upon themselves to fill the void (after all, they don’t have a mobile platform of their own to protect). Today, Yahoo! unveiled new search tools that help seek apps for your iOS device easier than ever before. The initiative consists of a dedicated search engine called Yahoo! App Search and an iOS app dubbed Yahoo! AppSpot.

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Not sure how this one went unnoticed, it’s a lovely tweak to Google’s mobile search page on iOS and Android devices. It is also noteworthy as Google rarely alters the look of its mobile landing page. Now, when you visit google.com from your mobile browser, you’ll notice four big icons sitting right below the search field: Restaurants, Coffee, Bars and More (which includes shops, ATMs, fast food and attractions).

Each icon takes you to a location-based listing with corresponding places, taking the pain out of finding the nearest place to eat or have a quick drink, wherever you happen to be. You can browse places in either list or map view, as well as check photos, reviews, business phone numbers and star ratings from credible sources such as Trip Advisor.

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June 15, 2011

TechCrunch continues their profiling of Facebook (once) secret projects with news that Zuckerberg and company plan a web-based alternative web store to Apple’s App Store for iOS devices.

Dubbed Project Spartan, the project is a framework for apps that would use social hooks and work inside of Facebook’s ecosystem.

As we understand it, Project Spartan is the codename for a new platform Facebook is on verge of launching. It’s entirely HTML5-based and the aim is to reach some 100 million users in a key place: mobile. More specifically, the initial target is both surprising and awesome: mobile Safari.

Yes, Facebook is about to launch a mobile platform aimed squarely at working on the iPhone (and iPad). But it won’t be distributed through the App Store as a native application, it will be entirely HTML5-based and work in Safari. Why? Because it’s the one area of the device that Facebook will be able to control (or mostly control).

Project Spartan will also be available on Android but according to TechCrunch, Facebook has Apple in its sights first.

As of right now, there are believed to be 80 or so outside developers working with Facebook on Project Spartan. These teams are working on apps for the platform that range from games to news-reading apps. Some of the names should be familiar: Zynga and Huffington Post (owned by our parent AOL), for example. The goal is to have these apps ready to roll in the next few weeks for a formal unveiling shortly thereafter.

‘Project Trojan’ sounds like a better name.

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If you need one more reason against the iPhone nano – a miniaturized iPhone version which has been the rumor mill’s favorite pastime – Asymco’s Horace Dediu has a few in a piece entitled “iPhone Liquidity: Why an Unlocked Phone in the US Matters”. In a nutshell, the good ol’ iPhone we know today still has plenty of room for growth left before Apple eventually diversifies the lineup in order to cover a wider gamut of price points and market segments. Dediu’s piece tells us that Apple’s handset is still “a very restricted product” considering global mobile landscape:

If you contrast this with every other phone platform out there, Blackberry, Android or Symbian, the iPhone is extremely restricted and the number of people that are permitted to buy it much more limited.

For example, iPhone is still nowhere to be found in ten European countries with a combined population of hundred million people. Granted, we’re talking low-revenue markets such as Albania, Bosnia, Serbia and Armenia, but still – a market’s a market. Asia, however is a different story. In Asia, Dediu writes, “the number of countries without iPhone distribution outnumber those with distribution”. Jump past the fold for more takeaways.

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June 14, 2011

At the Display Taiwan show one of the display vendors, CPT, is showing off what looks like an iPad 1 with a prototype 3D display which requires special eyewear with polarizing lenses. The Apple logo and product labels on the back are covered with stickers, but the device does resemble an iPad, as shown in the included video clip (sorry about the Android intro, folks). Not that it means anything or that NetbookNews.com has a decent track record of accurate Apple reporting. expand full story

June 13, 2011

Steve Jobs isn’t afraid to publicly admit that “good artists copy, great artists steal”. He purposefully reflected on that Picasso adage numerous times in the past, as shown in a short video snippet taken from a 1984 interview included for your reference below the fold. This very saying instantly popped into our mind when we saw the new Notification Center Apple debuted in iOS 5. As anyone knows, lock screen notifications are hardly a novelty to avid jailbreakers (or Android users). In fact, we were glad to see Apple wasn’t too proud to pull Android’s notifications. Though, of course, they can never say that Android has stolen the iOS look and feel from Apple again. But Notificaton Center via a pulldown gesture isn’t the only thing Apple borrowed from others…

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Philip Elmer-DeWitt relayed on the Fortune blog a survey that Piper Jaffray’s resident Apple analyst Gene Munster conducted during Apple’s annual developer conference which took place in San Francisco last week. He compared the results to a similar survey conducted in 2008, when Android wasn’t on the map yet. Speaking to 45 iOS developers attending this year’s conference (versus the twenty developers he surveyed at WWDC 2008), Munster wrote in a Monday note to clients that only seven percent of respondents write Mac apps these days. That’s a notable drop from 50 percent in 2008 and a major shift towards favoring Apple’s mobile operating system. Perhaps Apple should rename the conference as iWWDC? Go past the fold for more takeaways…

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June 8, 2011

The Mac/PC is no longer the hub of your digital world according to Steve Jobs and while the traditional computer was demoted to just a  ‘device’, iOS devices did get some promotions at WWDC this week as well.

One notable addition is that you can set up an Apple Airport or Time Capsule from an iOS 5 device, like in the screenshots above.

Let’s just say this one more time: No Mac Needed.

Thanks Clay! expand full story

Sources tell 9to5Mac that a version of the iPhone for Sprint’s network is currently in advanced testing. The physical design of this device is akin to the iPhone 4 of today, so this might be the iPhone 4S device with support for all carriers that we have been dreaming up and hearing whispers about. Apple is said to have ordered Sprint-compatible cell towers for use on their campus – for testing – in late 2010. Apple similarly tested the Verizon iPhone against Verizon cell towers on their campus months before the product’s release.

In addition to being actively tested in Apple’s “black labs,” the device is making the rounds amongst Sprint’s research and development department. Sources also say that talk of a 4G varient of the iPhone for Sprint is moving along, but the first generation Sprint iPhone that is currently in testing does not feature support for 4G bands. Last month, a job listing posted to Apple’s official jobs website revealed that Apple is looking to craft up a cellular engineering team in Kansas City. This city is home to the Royals, but also happens to be the home of Sprint headquarters. Sources did warn that depending on negotiations regarding 4G, the project may be pushed to late 2012. If the Sprint model is this fall’s model, it likely will not carry 4G compatible radios.

In addition to what our sources have told us, Talk Android reports that a Sprint iPhone is coming and that it will include dual-band support for T-Mobile (weird, right?). The report also claims that Verizon/AT&T and Sprint/T-Mobile will switch off annually as to who gets the new iPhone model. They also say that the Sprint vartient’s data plan will be spiked to $89 a month from $69 a month. To be clear, we have no reason to believe that Talk Android’s details are legitimate – all we know is that it’s in testing and Apple ordered the cell towers for testing in late 2010.

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The case of patent troll Lodsys suing iOS developers has taken a turn for the better. After Lodsys took seven indie iOS developers to court last week, they are now about to taste their own medicine. According to FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller, all four Lodsys patents are under invalidation attack in federal court:

I have news concerning Lodsys because a Michigan company named ForeSee Results Inc. has filed a declaratory judgment suit against Lodsys’s four patents with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

This will help move legal proceedings from East Texas, which favors patent trolls like Lodsys, to Michigan. ForeSee is moving the case to another district because Lodsys’ CEO and sole employee “resides in, and conducts business from this Judicial District”. Lodsys has also issued letters to Adidas, Best Buy and WE Energies over an alleged copyright infringement related to a different patent. After issuing a mild statement, Apple appears to be keen on learning which developers are under lawsuit threats from Lodsys. A Sydney, Australia-based programmer James Wilson spotted an unusual notice when he logged in to iTunes Connect, Apple’s back-end for managing iTunes content submissions. The site asked him whether he was updating an app “because of a legal issue”, which may or may not relate to patent troll Lodsys.

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Everyone’s favorite iPad insurance provider Square Trade decided to waste a few perfectly good tablets (well one is) to drive home the message: Dropping glass screens on cement will break them.

Conveniently, Square Trade just happens to be in the business of insuring iPads and other tablets (Shocking, we know). expand full story

Looking at the graph above it really feels like Apple is taking huge leaps in growth while the rest of the industry is happy to be taking baby steps.  iSuppli today says that with the help of the iPad, Apple passed Samsung and HP in 2010 to become the largest consumer of semiconductors in the world.  While 2010 is relatively close still, 2011 will have Apple pulling away from the pack.

Apple in 2010 bought $17.5 billion worth of semiconductors, a 79.6 percent increase from $9.7 billion in 2009. This represented the highest rate of increase among the world’s Top 10 OEM semiconductor buyers, allowing Apple to rise up two positions to take the No. 1 rank in 2010. Apple in 2009 was the third-largest semiconductor purchaser, behind Hewlett-Packard Co. of the United States and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. of South Korea; it was sixth in 2008.

NAND Flash for iOS devices was a big contributor to Apple’s rise.

“Apple’s surge to leadership in semiconductor spending in 2010 was driven by the overwhelming success of its wireless products, namely the iPhone and the iPad,” said Wenlie Ye, Analyst for IHS. “These products consume enormous quantities of NAND flash memory, which is also found in the Apple iPod. Because of this, Apple in 2010 was the world’s No. 1 purchaser of NAND flash.”Apple is likely to continue increasing its semiconductor spending during the coming years at an above-average pace, allowing the company to extend its lead over Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and other OEMs in 2011 and beyond. In 2011 Apple’s semiconductor spending is expected to exceed that of Hewlett-Packard by $7.5 billion, up from $2.4 billion in 2010.

Via iClarified expand full story

Apple’s iOS software wizard Scott Forstall saved iMessage as the last of the ten big iOS 5 features in Monday’s WWDC keynote talk. We’ve shown iMessage in action in our eleven-minute overview of iOS 5 features and the iOS 5 features page teases with some interesting capabilities promising to override costly text messages whenever possible:

With iMessage, we’ve created a new messaging service for all iOS 5 users. You can send unlimited text messages via WiFi or 3G from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to anyone with one of those devices. iMessage is built into the Messages app so you can send text, photos, videos, locations and contacts. Leep everyone in the loop with group messaging. Track your messages with delivery receipts and optional read receipts, see when someone’s typing and enjoy secure encryption for text messages. Even start a conversation on one of your iOS devices and pick up where you left off on another.

That pitch leaves a lot of questions unanswered. For example, do iMessages count against my text messaging plan? Where do I sing up for iMessage? What if the person on the other end cannot receive iMessages? What about sending iMessages to non-Apple devices? Here’s what we have found out so far…

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June 6, 2011

Image credit: Engadget

Steve Jobs and the gang have confirmed during the WWDC keynote address in San Francisco’s Moscone West that the iOS 5 software sports a revamped and vastly improved notifications systems. There are over 250 new features in iOS 5 and more than 1,500 new APIs. The first feature Scott Forstall put up on slide is the new notification system. It’s called Notification Center and it’s a new place that collects all you notifications. And how do you access it? Just swipe down from the top, like on Android. Plus, you get stocks and weather in the Notification Center. Stay tuned as we update the post with more info right below the fold. Also, check out our complete WWDC 2011 coverage and follow us @9to5mac as we update you on the latest. More below the fold

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