Here is the proof that 2012 is the year of mobile…
A recent study by Nielsen reveals that two thirds of new mobile buyers in the U.S. are now opting for smartphones, which has led to more than half (54.9 percent to be exact), of U.S. mobile subscribers now owning a smartphone.
And although this is good news for the mobile market, as well as for Web workers who are already monetizing off of this new channel (retailers, marketers, affiliates, etc.), it is not good news for some companies who have put many dollars into mobile, yet are still being left in the dust – we are talking about you, Microsoft.
The Q2 smartphone study shows that the Windows 7 phone is only used by 1.3 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, while other Windows phones only make up 3 percent of the market. This means that less people have a Windows phone than still have a Blackberry, since RIM devices make up 9 percent of the U.S. smartphone market.
The study also reveals that Android leads the smartphone market in the U.S., with 51.8 percent of smartphone users owning an Android device. And Apple is currently in second place, with more than a third of smartphone owners (34.3%) using the company’s iPhone. However, it is also important to note that Apple has the highest manufacturer share of smarphone handsets. Additionally, among smartphone owners who bought their device during June 2012, 54 percent said they chose an Android phone, while 36 percent bought an iPhone.
This new website creation tool was built for compatibility with Apple iOS devices, meaning iPhones and iPads. Customers create sites that will be easily, automatically viewable on these mobile devices; and, of course, they will be hosted by Gandi.
Oh, and it’s totally free.
Websites can be created using HTML5 and CSS style sheets, an important component in developing for iOS, which doesn’t support Flash. This does away with the need to set up Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) systems for similar functionality.
The tool comes with a variety of features and benefits for users. For instance, it was designed for ease-of-use, and offers preconfigured and customizable theme templates, so users can start building their websites in no time. That being said, it also comes with a powerful infrastructure for more advanced developers, providing tools that allow experts to directly edit their sites’ HTML and CSS codes using preset or user-supplied graphics and images.
And, one cannot forget the integrated social media tools (including link installation for the most widely used social media sites), e-commerce integration with a Google Checkout widget for payment functionality and intuitive content management that allows users to edit block text, add more blocks, reposition images and add a submit button or navigation menu using a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Basekit is the latest in Gandi’s portfolio of free tools. It is currently available for all of Gandi’s customers.
Thanks to modern technology, professionals can conduct meetings and collaborate from seemingly anywhere. Mobile sales and collaboration solutions provider MightyMeeting is attempting to take it to the next level with a recent update to its iOS application.
The MightyMeeting app was built to help Web professionals conduct online meetings and deliver presentations face-to-face directly from their iPhone and/or iPad devices, and these new updates will now support nearcasting and voice conferencing, among other things.
The app offers support for images, documents and spreadsheets in addition to presentations and demo videos, allowing users to manage, share and present materials from their mobile devices. It will now also provide a team meeting option so attendees can take turns presenting content from their devices, which was designed to help share news and updates among groups that have a mix of local and remote attendants. Users will even be able to create a list of “Favorite” files, and then others can access and save those files locally on their individual device for offline access.
The biggest update, however, is support for nearcast meetings, which lets up to 16 devices quickly connect in a peer-to-peer network to share presentations, demo videos and much more. Nearcast works over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and can also be used to share content even without an Internet connection.
Finally, voice conferencing will be coming to the application, allowing meeting attendants to join remotely from any part of the world. Like nearcast, this feature will work over Wi-Fi with no additional long distance or data usage fees.
Apple Inc.'s chief executive responded to a wave of negative attention to conditions at overseas factories that make its products, saying the insinuation that Apple doesn't care about the welfare of its workers is "offensive."
"Unfortunately, some people are questioning Apple’s values today," Tim Cook wrote in an e-mail to Apple employees. "Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern."
A series of articles in the New York Times has brought new focus on Apple's highly profitable production strategy, which relies heavily on Chinese workers who live in dormlike factories and spend many hours assembling devices. The safety records and working conditions in those factories have been questioned, and Apple's labor practices received intense scrutiny in 2010, when more than a dozen workers at Chinese iPhone plants committed suicide.
The later New York Times article quoted former Apple and Foxconn employees saying that Apple prioritized profit and production speed above worker welfare.
The company was trying to address problems in its factories, one of the sources said, “but most people would still be really disturbed if they saw where their iPhone comes from.”
In Cook's note, first published by 9to5Mac, he said that Apple was a world leader in improving overseas working conditions, and will continue to work hard to find and fix problems.
"We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues," Cook wrote. "What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word."
– David Sarno
Image: A person injured by an explosion at the Foxconn factory in May 2011 arrives at the Sichuan People's Hospital in Chengdu in southwest China. Credit: Associated Press.
When asked if the emergence of new, lower-cost tablets was affecting the success of the iPad this week, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook said he wasn't seeing it.
"I looked at the data, particularly in the U.S., on a weekly basis after Amazon launched the Kindle Fire, and I wouldn't — in my view there wasn't an obvious effect on the numbers plus or minus," Cook said.
But one clear minus was Apple's declining share of the growing tablet market. Despite gang-buster sales last quarter, the iPad has lost more than 10 percentage points of market share to rival Android tablets since the fourth quarter of 2010, according to a new report from research firm Strategy Analytics.
The iPad dropped to 57.6% of the tablets sold during the most recent fourth quarter, from 68.2% a year earlier, while Android rose to 39.1% from 29.0% a year ago, the report said. While Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads during the quarter, Android makers shipped 10.5 million tablets, more than tripling the 3.1 million they shipped a year earlier.
The Android surge was led primarily by tablets from Amazon and Samsung, according to Strategy Analytics' Neil Mawston.
"Android is so far proving relatively popular with tablet manufacturers despite nagging concerns about fragmentation of Android’s operating system, user-interface and app store ecosystem,” Mawston wrote in a release attached to the report.
The report also noted that global tablet shipments rose to 66.9 million units in 2011, nearly quadrupling the 18.6 million shipped in 2010. Devices "shipped" are those that manufacturers sell to retailers, and do not always represent final consumer sales numbers, especially when tablet makers overestimate the demand for their products. But Mawston said the tablet shipment numbers in this case were a fair representation of the number consumers bought.
– David Sarno
Image: Tim Perkins checks out the $199 tablet from Amazon.com at a Best Buy store in L.A. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times
The power of mobile technology: Never before have consumers been able to hold so many lawsuits in their hand.
Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. has just thrown another baton in the smartphone lawsuit parade that has stretched to courtrooms across the globe, as phone-makers sue one another over similarities in their mobile devices, which are packed with patent-protected circuits and widgets from dozens of companies.
Motorola has filed suit against Apple Inc., purveyor of the mega-blockbuster iPhone (the device lifted Apple to $46 billion in sales in its most recent quarter). Apple is an increasingly bitter rival of Google Inc., which agreed to buy Motorola in August, a deal that is still awaiting regulatory clearance.
As patent observer Florian Mueller noted, Google probably had to approve Motorola's lawsuit, given that part of the buyout terms appear to forbid Motorola from filing lawsuits without Google's explicit permission. Google has not directly sued or been sued by Apple in this matter — the two compaies are fighting their legal war by proxy.
Phones that run Google's Android operating system have collectively outsold the iPhone, and Apple is none too happy about that. The Cupertino electronics maker has initiated a flurry of lawsuits against Android phone manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics and HTC Corp., alleging that the companies "slavishly copied" the iPhone's signature look.
Now Motorola is trying to make things even more difficult for its rival. In its second action against Apple in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida, the company wants the court to ban iPhone sales. Motorola alleges that Apple devices infringe on six of its patents, including one for a phone with a "concealed antenna," and another about keeping data on "multiple pagers" synchronized. Motorola, as children of the 1990s will recall, made a lot of pagers — they still do.
For updates in this saga, make sure to keep your pagers on.
– David Sarno
Image: "Hungry Evil Android". Credit: asgw / Flickr
Apple Inc. is selling a whole lot of just about every product it makes — and investors are loving it.
The company's stock shot up more than 8% after it announced that the holiday quarter was its best ever, with revenue and profit setting all-time records. Apple sold more iPhones, iPads and Mac computers than in any three-month period in its history.
The company smashed Wall Street projections with revenue of $46.33 billion in the three-month period ended Dec. 31, more than $7 billion more than analysts had expected and a 74% increase over its quarterly revenue from a year earlier. Profit was just as strong: Apple's $13.06 billion in earnings beat analysts' expectations by $3 billion, and the number more than doubled from the same quarter a year earlier.
"They just demolished it," said analyst Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co. "Everyone thought they were too big — that there was too much information out there and they couldn't pull off a surprise like this, but boy did they ever."
Apple's bestselling product continued to be its iPhone. The company sold 37.04 million of the devices, by far eclipsing its iPhone sales record of 20.3 million set in the April to June quarter. It also took a leap forward with its iPad, selling 15.43 million units of the tablet computer — more than 4 million more than it had sold last quarter in its previous quarter. Apple sold 5.2 million Mac computers, beating its mark of 4.9 million, also set last quarter.
“We’re thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs,” said Chief Executive Tim Cook in a statement. “Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline."
Analysts expect that Apple will have a strong year of new products, possibly announcing a new iPad in March, a newly redesigned iPhone during the summer and potentially an Apple-branded television set later in the year.
– David Sarno
Photo: Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, discusses a new textbook initiative in New York last week. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press
NEWS ANALYSIS: Alongside Apple stating that iBooks 2 and textbooks on the iPad would reinvent the textbook as we know it, the iPad-maker announced Thursday that it would also attempt to reinvent book-making by way of an app called iBooks Author.
The Apple-developed app, available as a free download from the Mac App Store, (ideally) makes it easy to make books for the iPad. But together, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing, and to continue to build on the success Apple had under the late Steve Jobs.
If you've ever used Apple's Keynote or Pages (or Microsoft's PowerPoint or Word) apps, then you should be able to hit the ground running in iBooks Author. There are templates for different types of book layouts, and adding the interactive 3-D models, photos, videos and diagrams that Apple demoed iBooks 2 textbooks on Thursday is as easy as clicking and dragging a built-in widget — provided you've already produced the video, photos, diagrams and models you want to use.
Want to see what your book looks like before you publish it to iBooks? Just connect your Mac to an iPad by way of a USB cable and you can preview the book on the tablet.
The aim of the iBooks Author app is to make it easy to get these impressive multimedia elements, as well as questionnaires and other educational materials, into a page of text and published as a book on the iPad as easy as possible — whether you're a self-publisher looking to write your first book, a teacher whipping up something quick for a special class, or a publishing powerhouse like the textbook trifecta of McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Before his death, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed Apple could disrupt the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry. Jobs said in Isaacson's book, titled simply "Steve Jobs," that the iPad was the tool to make transformation in the textbook business a reality.
According to the book, Jobs' idea "was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple."
Jobs told Isaacson "the process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt … but if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don't have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money."
In announcing the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author products, Apple is beginning to bring a piece of Jobs' long-term vision to fruition. The company also noted Thursday that there are currently about 1.5 million iPads being used in schools and more than 20,000 education apps sitting in its iOS App Store.
But make no mistake, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author aren't just about textbooks. The two new apps are working together to entice students, teachers, educational institutions to embrace and buy the iPad in bigger numbers than they already have.
On Thursday, in announcing the new products, Apple made no mention of new discounts on iPads for students or schools — though Apple has offered such discounts in the past on Macs and even created special versions of the iMac for schools. Apple even built the now-defunct eMac line specifically to sell to schools.
Apple wants us to ditch the paperback and hardcover textbooks in favor of an iPad and digital downloads, that much is obvious. But the company also wants the iPad and Macs to become to go-to devices for educational institutions and publishing houses.
Although Apple's iTunes is the world's most popular online music storefront, Amazon is the world's largest seller of e-books. By adding a level of interactivity to books that Amazon and others simply can't match, and by making it easier to publish a book and sell it in the iBooks app directly from iBooks Author, Apple has made a move to challenge Amazon and its Kindle e-reader and Kindle Touch tablet as the preferred platform for self-publishers and digital textbooks.
In a statement announcing iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, Apple said as much (without naming Amazon and other e-book rivals such as Google and Barnes & Noble).
"iBooks Author is also available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple's iBookstore," Apple said.
The apps are also a challenge to Adobe, a company Apple has been known to partner with and feud with from time to time. Adobe's Creative Suite, Digital Publishing Suite and Touch Apps, available on both Windows PCs and Macs, are some of the most popular tools used by publishing houses and self-publishers looking to create a book, whether an e-book or a book before it heads to print.
Though capable of producing many different types of content for a broader range of devices, Adobe's software can cost thousands of dollars, while Apple's iBooks Author app is free.
Apple on Thursday also released an iTunes U app, which allows teachers from kindergarten to the university level to stream video of their lectures and post class notes, handouts, reading lists, etc., all within the app.
Previously, iTunes U was a podcasting service for college professors who wanted to put up video or audio of their lectures. Now it is one more reason for a teacher to consider an iPad and a Mac as tools to reach students at any grade level. And like iBooks Author, the app is free.
In my opinion, Apple is one of the best companies out there at providing lower-cost products that pull consumers into an ecosystem of apps and gadgets. It's one of the reason the company has so many cult-like followers.
For many Apple fans, their first purchase was an iPod or iPhone. With those purchases comes buying apps, music, movies and TV shows from iTunes. And for many, later comes a MacBook or an iMac computer. This strategy is repeating itself with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author.
First, get students and teachers to use more iPads in school by offering affordable and engaging digital textbooks. With iBook textbooks capped at a price of $14.99, I have to wonder whether or not textbooks will become shorter and more narrow, and thus students and teachers we'll have to buy more of them. Second, make it easy for anybody to produce their own iBooks (textbooks or otherwise) and then sell those books in the iBooks app, luring in aspiring authors. When those students, teachers and authors go to download music or a movie, set up a cloud storage service or buy a laptop, a phone, a new tablet — maybe someday a TV — what brand will be at the top of minds? Apple.
iBooks, iBooks Author and iTunes U, together are a move to fend off Google, Amazon, Adobe and other competitors in determining the future of education, publishing and book reading. Together, the launch of these apps is an attempt to not only maintain but also expand Apple's current success into the company's post-Jobs future.
Photo: Apple's iBook Author app on an iMac, and an iBook and an iPad. Credit: Apple
Apple promised to reinvent the textbook and offer a new experience for students and teachers by way of an update to its iBooks app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch on Thursday.
The app update — which Apple is calling iBooks 2 and is already released to the iOS App Store — will allow for textbooks to be sold through the popular app, which in the past sold novels, nonfiction and poetry, but not textbooks.
All textbooks sold through the free app, which is available only to Apple's i-devices, will be priced at $14.99 or less — a stark contrast to the high-priced paper books that fill college bookstores.
But the main allure might not be the price as much as the interactive features iBooks textbooks can offer.
Apple, which announced the iBooks update at a press event in New York at the Guggenheim Museum, said the iBooks textbook exceeds paper texts in terms of engagement, calling it a durable, quickly searchable book that offers easy highlighting and note-taking as well as interactive photo galleries, videos, and 3-D models and diagrams.
Digital textbooks can also offer immediate feedback with questionnaires at the end of chapters and automatically create flash cards of glossary terms for a student to study.
Apple said the move makes sense given that more that 1.5 million iPads are used in schools. "Now with iBooks 2 for iPad, students have a more dynamic, engaging and truly interactive way to read and learn, using the device they already love," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
One thing not mentioned by Apple on Thursday was any sort of program that would offer iPads at a discount to students, teachers or schools.
Apple also said there are more than 20,000 education-focused apps available in the iOS App Store.
The tech giant has enlisted the heavyweights of textbook publishing — Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt — to sell textbooks through iBooks 2. Combined, the three companies make 90% of textbooks sold in the U.S. Smaller publishers such as DK and the EO Wilson Biodiversity Foundation will be publishing to iBooks 2 as well.
Just as iBooks does with other types of books, textbooks will offer a free preview of a few pages or even a chapter before a purchase is made.
EO Wilson is also publishing a new book through iBooks 2 called Life on Earth, and the first two chapters of the new title will be free with more chapters coming as they are written.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: Textbooks for sale in iBooks 2 on an Apple iPad. Credit: Apple
Apple rumors — they seem to work readers, writers and editors up into a frenzy producing an echo of reports around the Internet. These blips of salacious speculation seem to spawn anew multiple times each week and, from time to time, they also fail to line up with one another, instead butting heads in contradiction.
The latest example of such conflicting rumors is the recent reports published on the pending release of what the tech media has dubbed the "iPad 3," Apple's eventual follow-up tablet to the hugely successful iPad 2 of 2011 and first-generation iPad released in 2010.
Late last week, as many tech reporters were hustling to keep up with wacky gadgets and the evolutionary advancement of TVs, smartphones and tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Bloomberg News reported that Apple's next iPad would go on sale in March with 4G LTE connectivity (the first two iPads have Wi-Fi or 3G), a faster processor and a higher resolution touch screen.
Bloomberg didn't mention when it believed Apple would unveil the iPad 3, in its report, which cited three anonymous sources that reportedly have knowledge of Apple's plans.
Aside from the March-debut nugget of information, the rumored iPad 3 specs have been reported and re-reported countless times since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad 2 on March 2, 2011, ahead of the tablet hitting U.S. stores on March 11, 2011.
On Tuesday, the Japanese website Mackotakara reported that the unveiling of a so-called iPad 3 along with an update to Apple's iOS 5 operating system would take place in February. According to PCMag and Apple Insider, Mackotakara cited an unnamed Asian supplier and an anonymous source in the U.S. for its report.
So, do the Bloomberg and Mackotakara reports line up or contradict? When is the iPad 3 coming — February or March?
In all likelihood, only Apply really knows when it will launch its next iPad. And Apple, which is known to reschedule its events and product launches up to the last minute, isn't saying. The company never comments on speculation about its product launches.
But it could be that both Mackotakara and Bloomberg are right? Maybe (and yes, I'm speculating here) the iPad 3 will be unveiled in February and go on sale in March?
Apple introduced the original iPad on Jan. 27, 2010, but it didn't go on sale until April 3, 2010.
Complicating matters is the Taiwanese website DigiTimes (which has a reputation for publishing inaccurate tech rumors). The DigiTimes has reported that the iPad 3 would be released sometime this month — but the site has also said its unnamed sources have also said the iPad 3 may arrive in March or April.
Well, here's one thing you can count on: Whenever Apple's next iPad is released, the Technology blog (and the much of the tech reporting world) will have plenty of coverage of the eagerly anticipated new tablet.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: The Apple iPad 2. Credit: Nathan Olivarez-Giles / Los Angeles Times
IPad owners, get psyched: The creative people over at Moonbot Studios have just released "The Numberlys," a new iPad and iPhone app that is not quite a movie, not quite a book and not quite a game — although it includes elements of all three.
One might describe it as one of the few storytelling apps that takes into account the iPad's unique functionality.
"The Numberlys " is set in a black-and-white world inspired in part by Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," where only numbers exist until five little guys decide to create the alphabet by transforming numbers into letters. To do this they jump on them, spin them, smash them and pull them apart using various tools.
And you — the reader? the player? — have to help them.
Savvy iPad owners may know Moonbot Studios as the creators of "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," a magical story app that appeared on many top 10 app lists of 2011.
The creative studio, which was co-founded by artist, director and former Pixar employee William Joyce, has been open just a year and a half, but has already established a reputation for excellence. The studio's first project, the short-film version of "Morris Lessmore," just made it on the short list for the Oscars.
I spoke this week with Lampton Enochs and Brandon Oldenburg, two of the three partners in Moonbot Studios, about the company's process and the future of storytelling on the iPad.
Question: So, you guys make movies, paper books, iPad apps. How do you describe what it is that you do?
Enochs: We think of ourselves as a storytelling outfit. We try to generate our own internal projects half the time and the other half of the time we want to work on collaborative projects with outside parties.
Oldenburg: Part of our mission here is to bring the future that never was back to the forefront. There is a sort of retro nostalgic vibe to our company that is rooted in science fiction. We've all grown up reading about all this wonderful fantastic stuff, and then it doesn't come to fruition. We want to bring it to fruition.
Q: The iPad is so new. What is it like working in such uncharted territory?
Oldenburg: It harkens back to the early days of film. It's still very Wild West and experimental right now and it is really exciting.
Enochs: The first movies were a locomotive and a guy running and that was it, and everyone was thrilled. We are still a little bit in that stage, I'm sure.
Q: I imagine there must be tensions between what the creative types think is best for the story and what the programmers say can actually be done. How do you work that out?
Oldenburg: Definitely when you work with scientists, and I'm calling our programmers scientists, everyone has to be open-minded. When you are in a creative brainstorming session you want to go, "yes — and." A lot of times our programmers can seem grumpy, but keeping them engaged in the conversation from the get-go allows you to see what the actual possibilities are.
Q: You've translated "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" into a film, an iPad app and a physical book (not yet released). What do you think about when you tell a story in a different medium?
Oldenburg: It is very important that every time we take one of our stories from an iPad to a book that it is not the same experience regurgitated now on a printed page. We look at things from a kid's logic standpoint. I remember being a kid and seeing a movie and then buying the game for the movie and it was always a letdown. It never lived up to the movie. Kids can smell merch. We don't ever want to create merch.
Q: Have there been any apps that inspire you guys?
Oldenburg: I heard about an album that you can only listen to when you are in Central Park, and it knows if you are there because of GPS, and it would play differently depending on where you walked so nobody would ever hear the exact same album as anyone else. I thought — how beautiful is that.
– Deborah Netburn
As General Motors introduced its first efforts to bring apps from your smartphone into your dashboard at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Ford expanded its Sync AppLink system — which does just that and launched about a year ago.
When AppLink made its debut, Pandora was the only app a Sync user could operate via in-dash touch screen. Later, Stitcher radio gained Sync compatibility, which includes voice control as well.
Ford announced at CES in Las Vegas this week that apps for iPhones, BlackBerrys and phones that Google's Android would be added to the AppLink-friendly list, including NPR News, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio and Ford's own Sync Destinations turn-by-turn navigation app.
To see NPR News and Slacker Radio in action in a new Ford Mustang GT, check out our video from CES above.
Ford says that more apps that work with Sync's voice recogniton software are on the way. Oddly enough, Sync (which was developed through a partnership between Ford and Microsoft) has no AppLink compatibility with Windows Phone apps.
Just as with GM's in-car-app systems — Chevrolet MyLink and Cadillac CUE — AppLink can use apps only if it’s connected to a smartphone with the app installed, and it accesses data through the phone. Ford isn't selling any AppLink data plans.
For now, AppLink is available only in Sync-equipped Fiestas, Mustangs, Fusions, F-150s and Econoline vans, but the U.S. automaker is considering pushing AppLink out to other Ford brands, such as Lincoln, as well as to vehicles running older versions of Sync.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screen shot of Ford's Sync Destinations app. Credit: Ford
Rumors of a new quad-core "A6" processor for Apple's next iPad and iPhone have been circulating for months, and on Friday a bit of information came to light that will fuel the speculation.
The code for Apple's iOS 5.1 beta operating system, which developers can access for testing before the software is released to the public, hints at compatibility with quad-core CPUs, according to a report on the website 9to5Mac.
The report — by Mark Gurman, who has also delved into a bit of iOS app development — says iOS 5.1 beta describes three different processor variations, making reference to "/cores/core.3," as well as "/cores/core.0," which identifies a single-core CPU, and "/cores/core.1," which identifies a dual-core processor.
Based on Apple's naming convention so far, Gurman says, ".cores/core.3" would refer to a quad-core chip. The speculation is that such a quad-core processor would be called the A6 and be used in the expected iPad 3, following Apple's dual-core A5 (used in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S) and single-core A4 (used in the first-generation iPad and the iPhone 4).
"Apple leaving references to quad-core chips in the iOS 5.1 beta is notable because iOS 5.1 is the software currently being tested against the third-generation iPad," Gurman wrote. "We cannot conclude that due to iOS 5.1 including quad-core processor references, Apple's next-generation iPad and iPhone will include a quad-core chip, but it seems reasonable based on Apple starting with a single-core chip in 2010 and moving to dual-core in 2011. A quad-core chip in 2012 would fit the pattern."
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Reading on a first-generation Apple iPad. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Siri, how do you say profit in Chinese?
One answer Apple's digital assistant might consider giving is: start selling the iPhone 4S in China. And starting on Jan. 13th, Apple will do just that.
The company said Wednesday that China will be among 22 countries that soon will get the newest iPhone, one of Apple's hottest-selling yet. The iPhone now accounts for nearly half of Apple's annual revenue, and some analysts believe it earns the company more than 60% of its profits.
China is one of the world's largest mobile device markets, with close to a billion cellphone users by some estimates. Apple currently partners with China Unicom, one of the larger carriers with close to 200 million cellular subscribers.
Apple said Wednesday it had no current plans to announce a partnership with China Mobile, the country's largest carrier with more than 630 million subscribers (a user base that, somewhat amazingly, is more than twice the size of the U.S. population). But for months now Apple has been rumored to be nailing down a deal with China Mobile, and millions of the carriers' customers are already using the iPhone by modifying the device to work on their network.
Will Siri actually be able to speak and understand Mandarin? Eventually, yes. An Apple spokesman said the company plans to add official language support in 2012 — and that will include Chinese. But Siri won't yet be multilingual when the phone hits Chinese stores this month.
— David Sarno
Photo: A couple look at an iPhone in Beijing in November. Credit: Diego Azubel / EPA
As Republicans focused on the Iowa caucuses and President Barack Obama made a pitch to Iowans of his own over streaming video on Tuesday, the Obama 2012 reelection campaign took its message to Instagram.
The president's campaign staff, which is also looking to reach voters on Tumblr and Google+ (along with a few Republican rivals), has posted two photos thus far, both of the president speaking with Iowa's caucus voters via video chat, making his case for another term in the White House.
Although Instagram — a photo-sharing app known for retro filters that allows people to share photos with one another from their iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads — is new territory for Obama, the move by his 2012 campaign shouldn't come as a surprise.
In the 2008 election, Obama's team was so well known for its use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging to help build up an overwhelming amount of support that the Technology blog described Obama as "the first social media President." And over the last four years, the White House has made great use of the photo-sharing site Flickr.
Instagram, which has seen its more than 5-million users share more than 150-million photos, said in a company blog post that it is "excited to welcome President Barack Obama to Instagram" and that it looks "forward to seeing how President Obama uses Instagram to give folks a visual sense of what happens in the everyday life of the President of the United States."
The Obama 2012 campaign is also looking for supporters to share their photos with the @BarackObama Instagram account by tagging their photos with "#obama2012," Instagram said.
The company also made sure to point out that political coverage on Instagram has been on the rise over the last year as the 2012 presidential election gets closer.
"News organizations such as NBC News, ABC World News and the Washington Post have been sharing behind-the-scenes photos at debates and town hall meetings across the country, offering a unique look into the 2012 elections," Instagram said.
Among the most interesting photos shared so far by news organizations covering the election on Instagram would have to be Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker's shot of Republican hopeful Mitt Romney typing on his Apple iPad in an airport.
— Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screen shot of President Barack Obama's first Instagram photo. Credit: Obama 2012 / Instagram
As of the new year Apple's head of design, Jonathan Ive, will be a knight of the British Empire. The London-born engineer has been the lead designer at Apple for more than 15 years and grew to become the "spiritual partner" of the company late co-founder Steve Jobs, according to Jobs himself.
The two collaborated on creating the look and feel of Apple's many successful consumer electronics products.
Reached by the BBC about the honor, Ive reportedly said it was "absolutely thrilling."
"I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the U.K. of designing and making," he said. "I discovered at an early age that all I've ever wanted to do is design."
As described in a Times profile earlier this year, Ive is responsible for the look of Apple's iPod music player, the iPhone and the iPad tablet, all blockbuster products in their own categories.
– David Sarno
Photo: Jonathan Ive of Apple in Cupertino, Calif., in 2008. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press
Apple and Android mobile devices lit up like Christmas lights on Dec. 25 as people the world over pulled a smartphone from their stocking.
People fired up 6.8 million Apple and Android devices on Christmas Day, more than doubling the 2.5 million that they activated on the same day last year, according to Flurry Analytics, a mobile metrics firm that tracks activity from 140,000 apps.
On the days leading up to Christmas, people activated about 1.5 million Apple and Android smartphones and tablets each day.
But on Christmas itself, activations shot up more than 350%, to 6.8 million. (The report does not disclose whether Apple or Google-powered devices accounted for a larger share of that number).
Perhaps a bit predictably, Christmas Day app downloads began to rocket up around 6 a.m., and remained high throughout the day until they hit a peak around 8 p.m. — that is, after dinner, when sated revelers can play with their new toys in earnest. More than 15 million apps were downloaded between 7 and 9 p.m. alone, if you line up all the world's time zones.
The Flurry report notes that app downloads have shot up in 2011, with Apple users downloading close to 10 billion this year, as many as in the previous three years combined. Google's Android devices have seen similarly rapid growth.
– David Sarno
Got an Apple iPhone this Christmas? Well, you're doing pretty well for yourself. It may or may not be Santa Claus' smartphone of choice and you successfully avoided waiting in long lines as many Apple fanatics do once a year when a new iPhone launches.
But marketing and hype aside, the iPhone is one of the best smartphone lines on the market and each of the devices currently available — the 3GS, the 4 and the 4S — run iOS 5, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system. With that in mind, here are five places to get started if you're a first time iPhone owner.
1. Photography apps: Apple's App Store (the only place you can get iPhone apps), with more than 140,000 apps available, is a major bragging right for the iPhone versus its competitors, but not all apps are created equal. However, no other smartphone platform can currently match the iPhone for slick apps that produce fun and artistic photos. The best place to start is likely Instagram, which combines a solid selection of filters to make photos look like they were shot on vintage film cameras and a social network of other users so you can see the world through other lenses. Hipstamatic is another popular choice, which takes the vintage filter approach to another level with the ability to mix and match digital lenses, flashes and film choices to create a more customized look than in Instagram. Another app, called SwankoLab, allows you to alter photos already taken using a simulated dark room.
2. Games: The iPhone is also arguably the best gaming smartphone out there and the choices here are plentiful. Angry Birds is one of the most popular games available on smartphones and is a good place to start. But other choices such as Robo Surf, Cut the Rope, Tiny Wings, Bumpy Road and Kosmo Spin are worth checking out too — each combining unique art styles, enchanting soundtracks and simple touch screen controls. For those looking for a bit more of a gaming challenge, the third-person shooter Minigore and puzzle game Scribblenauts impress. The sword fighting games Infiniti Blade and Infiniti Blade II show what the iPhone is capable of with detailed 3-D graphics and fast-paced action.
3. Music: Apple's iTunes allows for easy music buying, but there are plenty of other music related apps worth checking out as well. Shazam can listen to and then identify thousands of songs. Band of the Day is a great way to discover new music. Soundtracking is a unique social networking app that allows you to share what you're listening to with others, as well as check out what tunes they like. And if you're a Spotify Premium subscriber, the Spotify app is a must.
4. Built-in Twitter: If you're a big Twitter user, as I am, or even if you're new to Twitter, you're likely going to appreciate that the social network is baked into iOS 5. Checking out a website you care to share in the iPhone's Safari web browser? You can tweet that directly from Safari without having to go and open up a Twitter app. Same goes for photos, videos and locations in the maps app.
5. Ask a friend: As always, talking to a buddy can generate suggestions that may line up with your interests on just about anything — same goes here. Ask a friend who uses an iPhone what they like about the phone or available apps and you're bound to find something you may enjoy too.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: A newly purchased iPhone 4S smartphone outside an Apple Store in New York. Credit: Michael Nagle / Getty Images
For the Kindle Fire, Amazon's first tablet and a hot-selling item, the update promises to improve the responsiveness of touch navigation and the speed of actions on the device, such as loading webpages in the Fire's Web browser.
However, the biggest new feature might be the ability for users to edit what shows up in their "carousel" of recent apps and content displayed on the Fire's home screen.
Before the update, a Fire user couldn't remove any items — books they've read, games and music played, movies watched or websites visited — in their carousel.
The ability to remove items from the carousel was a highly requested feature and in this case, Amazon was pretty quick to deliver — the Fire was released Nov. 14.
The iOS Kindle app updates the user interface for periodicals and text books, with access to the same selection of more than 400 magazines and newspapers that are offered on the Fire, Amazon said in a statement.
For the first time, Amazon is also offering "print replica textbooks" to iOS Kindle app users, which allow for full-color pages and the ability to zoom in and out or take notes as needed, the company said.
And the update also now makes the Kindle iOS app a PDF reader as well, Amazon said, which will allow users to view their own documents — a feature offered by iBooks for some time now.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times
Samsung Electronics is making Apple chips in Texas.
That's according to a Reuters report noting that, perhaps a bit surprisingly, the Korean electronics giant – also a major smartphone rival of Apple — is producing the sophisticated A5 processing chip that lies at the heart of Apple's iPhone 4S and iPad 2 devices.
The factory complex in Austin, called Samsung Austin Semiconductor, is pictured above and in the Google map below. It's the largest foreign investment in Texas, according to Reuters. Construction of the complex, which lies along Samsung Boulevard in Austin, started in 1996, and the first semiconducter fabrication facility began operating in 1998. It builds high-precision microchips — chips such as Apple's A5.
The company opened a second wafer factory in Austin in 2008 to build NAND flash chips, the fast memory storage elements that work in computers and mobile devices.
Reuters notes that the Austin facility is located there in part because it's close to the University of Texas' engineering school. The two factories employ about 3,500 total workers, according to Reuters.
– David Sarno
Image: A satellite photo shows a Samsung factory in Austin, Texas. Credit: Google Maps
Apple has hit 100 million downloads from its online software shop, the Mac App Store.
When the company opened the digital shop in January of this year, its goal was to put an end to the old days of PC software on a box — the kind users bought from brick and mortar stores like Best Buy or Fry's, or Babbage's, or Software Etc., or Egghead Software, or the Softwarehouse, or CompUSA. (Am I missing any obvious ones?)
After all, the logic goes, software is just 1's and 0's — so why would you need to drive somewhere to pick up a shrink-wrapped package full of it?
So far, the approach appears to be working. The store is averaging 8 million downloads per month this year. That includes the summer launch of Lion, the latest version of its Macintosh operating system, which sold more than 1 million digital copies in its first day, far outpacing sales of any previous OS X release.
What the company did not say is how many of the 100 million apps downloaded were, specifically, its operating system — or how many of them were counted from the many free apps available on the store.
However, some companies do approach online software sales by offering free and paid apps. Autodesk Inc. offers a simpler, free version of its AutoCAD software through the store, and its $900 AutoCAD LT version for pros (or amateurs that get hooked).
Apple also said its iPhone and iPad-based App Store hit 18 billion total downloads. That store went online for the iPhone and iPod Touch in 2008.
– David Sarno (@dsarno)
Image: Graphic of Mac App Store Logo. Credit: Rob Boudon / Flickr
Microsoft has released new details on its Windows Store for Windows 8 — no it's not called App Store a la Apple — which will be its online storefront selling applications to run on Windows 8 laptops, desktops and tablets.
The Windows Store will sell "Metro-style" apps. Microsoft Metro is the design language of flat, actively updating "live tile" icons for apps that debuted last year on the Windows Phone 7 operating system, and is making its way over to the Xbox 360 video game system this week in a software update.
Most Windows 8 Metro apps available in the Windows Store should adhere to touch, stylus or keyboard and mouse input, since they'll have to run on traditional PCs and tablets as well.
Microsoft will also have a tiered system of what its cut of an apps revenue will be. Apple famously takes a 30% cut of revenue for all apps sold in its iOS App Store (for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) and Mac App Store (for Mac computers).
Microsoft will take a similar 30% share of revenue for each app sold in its Windows Store, but once an app passes $25,000 in total revenue, the tech giant will drop its share down to 20% for the remainder of time that the app is sold, the company said in a statement.
To access the new Windows Store, the masses will have to wait until Windows 8 officially launches sometime next year. But developers will be able to access the Windows Store, in a beta release, if they've installed the Windows 8 Developer Preview version of the new OS, which is a free download available to all.
Microsoft is now taking Windows 8 app submissions and has launched a "First Apps Contest," which the tech giant will use to choose the first eight apps available in the Windows Store when it officially opens.
The new Windows Store isn't the first time that Microsoft is taking a stab at replicating the success Apple has had with its App Stores. The much-maligned Windows Vista had an app store called the Windows Marketplace, though both the operating system and the Marketplace never found much popularity.
Still, Windows is the most widely used PC operating system in the world. Microsoft says it has sold more than 500 million Windows 7 licenses worldwide to date and the company is hoping that Windows 8 will continue dominating PCs as well as give the company a significant stake in the growing tablet market that it lacks.
Microsoft also said that the Windows Store will launch globally in 231 markets and more than 100 languages, with the ability to accept payments in 58 currencies.
Follow the jump to see screen shots of the Windows Store in action.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screen shot of the Windows Store in Windows 8. Credit: Microsoft
Google's Android Market has passed 10 billion app downloads, a major milestone for the world's most widely used mobile operating system.
"One billion is a pretty big number by any measurement. However, when it’s describing the speed at which something is growing, it’s simply amazing," said Eric Chu, director of the Android Developer Ecosystem, in a company blog post. "This past weekend, thanks to Android users around the world, Android Market exceeded 10 billion app downloads — with a growth rate of 1 billion app downloads per month."
The massive number is even more impressive when considering the fragmentation found on Android, with companies such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Yahoo hosting Android app stores of their own, in addition to independent app stores such as GetJar.
Apple passed 15 billion downloads from its App Store in July, noting that there are more than 200 million iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users worldwide.
More than 200 million Android smartphones and tablets have been sold and about 550,000 new Android activations take place each day, Google has said.
To celebrate passing the 10-billion-download mark, Google and a number of developers are offering selected apps for 10 cents for a limited time, Chu said.
"Starting today for the next 10 days, we'll have a new set of awesome apps available each day for only 10 cents each," he said. "Today, we are starting with Asphalt 6 HD, Color & Draw for Kids, Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro, Fieldrunners HD, Great Little War Game, Minecraft, Paper Camera, Sketchbook Mobile, Soundhound Infinity & Swiftkey X."
Each day, until the 10-day period is up, Google will offer another 10 apps for 10 cents each, as listed on the Android Market.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: A screen shot of Google's Android Market. Credit: Google
Samsung chalked up a victory in its ongoing patent battle with Apple when a federal judge ruled against a proposed sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S.
Apple had requested a ban similar to the temporary injunction placed on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, but the U.S. District Court in San Jose on Friday decided that such a move wasn't necessary before the dispute goes to trial in July, according to Bloomberg Businessweek
Australian's ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is set to lift on Dec. 9, with the patent battle there headed for trial in March.
The two consumer electronics titans are involved in a running legal war over the rights to technologies used on tablets and smartphones in more than 10 countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, France and Italy, and with more than 20 lawsuits filed between the two companies.
So far, sales of Samsung's Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace smartphones have been temporarily banned in 30 European countries, and Germany has placed a preliminary sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 7.7 (all devices which run on Google's Android operating system). Samsung went so far as to redesign and then re-release the German version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 as the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, but Apple requested a new ban of that tablet in that country as well, according to the Times of India.
When Apple and Samsung aren't fighting to keep each other's products off of store shelves, the two are actually business partners. Samsung, for example, manufactures Apple's A4 and A5 processors found in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iPod Touch, among other components, such as flash memory, inside of i-devices.
Photo: An Apple iPad 2, left, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at a store in the Hague, Netherlands, in August. Credit: Robert Vos / European Pressphoto Agency
Wouldn't it be nice if you could develop that next killer app in the cloud? Well you can! Cloud content service Brightcove has made App Cloud, an end-to-end platform for the development, deployment and operation of native apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, available to the general public.
“The App Cloud beta program has been very well received over the past few months, and we have been impressed by the quality, breadth and creativity of the apps developed by our beta users,” said Ashley Streb, Vice President of Technology at Brightcove. “Now, any organization can take advantage of App Cloud to easily build, deliver, and manage dynamic, custom content apps across multiple devices for a superior end user experience.”
Brightcove indicated that more than 1,200 individual users have participated in the App Cloud beta testing program and several App Cloud-powered apps are currently available for download through the iTunes App Store and Google's Android Market including apps from the U.S. Department of State and Lifetime Networks.