What’s the News: Despite Apple’s recent lawsuit against Amazon’s use of the term “Appstore,” Amazon successfully began selling applications for the Google Android smart phone yesterday. The launch unveiled two previously unmentioned perks: a free-app-of-the-day promotion and a feature called Test Drive that allows users to try apps on Amazon’s website before buying them.
What’s the Context:
Not So Fast: As some tech gurus note, Amazon’s app-purchasing process is confusing for some people, and involves bypassing the Android Market and allowing “third-party apps to be installed from outside sources.” Confusion aside, this process could make you vulnerable to viruses as well.
The Future Holds: Amazon says it will soon integrate its apps into its recommendation engine, allowing you to see apps that may be relevant to you just like you can see suggested books. There’s still no official news as to whether Amazon’s Kindle will eventually be able to run the Android operation system.
Tech bloggers can relax those fingers and recover from endurance live-blogging: The iPad 2 has been revealed by the turtlenecked wonder himself, Steve Jobs. Now that the world has had a look at the next-gen tablet, do its improvements satisfy the wants of the computing masses?
No surprise, the specs are impressive. Apple’s iPad 2 is one-third skinnier and 0.2 pounds lighter than its predecessor. It boasts cameras on both the front and the back, and a video camera which can sync up with iPhones for video chat. It has a 1GHz dual core processor but maintains the 10-hour battery life of the original. The base price is the same, $499, and it goes on sale in the U.S. on March 11. And yes, the rumors are true: It’s coming out in white as well as black.
The toys aren’t bad, either. The new version of iPad’s operating system includes Photo Booth, the standby application for taking gratuitous photos of yourself and mutilating them in new and interesting ways. The app iMovie—which has long been on Apple laptops—is on iPad now, too, allowing users edit film on the tablet. And Jobs gleefully spent much of the presentation fiddling with the iPad version of Apple’s music creation program, Garage Band.
You can play a piano on the iPad, as well as a whole mess of other instruments. There’s a button for a sustain pedal, and the virtual keys are touch sensitive. Play a key softly, the sound is soft. Play it hard, and the sound changes. The iPad uses its accelerometer to measure the force with which the keys are struck. [The New York Times live blog]
Rupert Murdoch—head of NewsCorp, the owner of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post—has just launched The Daily, his “iPad newspaper” built from the ground up. So will people soon be reading original newspaper content on Apple’s slick tablet, and will they being paying for it?
Murdoch and his cohorts stressed that The Daily is, first and foremost, a newspaper. Most content will be released in a single update in the morning, but breaking news will be added throughout the day and could include, for instance, a live feed from Twitter to deliver updates, executive editor Jesse Angelo said. There are two problems with this strategy: one, that most iPad owners don’t use their iPads to access breaking news, and that The Daily, in its current iteration, isn’t really a newspaper; it’s a magazine. [Mashable]
The Daily—available by subscription for a buck a week or $40 for a year—boasts an opinion page, horoscopes, gossip items, and other telltale signs of Murdoch’s love of the old-school newspaper. But, some reviewers note, its carousel layout—similar to iTunes—makes The Daily feel like several disconnected sections rather than a unified whole.
Open the app and you’re presented with a carousel navigation much like “cover flow” in iTunes. I’d imagine the designers felt that was the simplest way to give a good overview of all the content, and subconsciously remind the user that this is an iTunes-style paid content environment – though you can’t burn your existing digital publications and view them through the Daily. [The Guardian]
I know the holidays are over and the long, dark winter months—which bring little to look forward to besides furry meteorologists and the pressure-packed atrociousness of Valentine’s Day—lie ahead. But take heart, America: Shiny new toys are coming. January means it’s time for the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which begins Thursday in Las Vegas. And gadget lust is already at peak volume, with product prognosticators predicting what will be unveiled in 2011.
Tablets. We mean it this time.
2010, certainly, was the year of the iPad—Apple has sold millions of the sleek devices since their April launch. 2011, gadget pros are predicting, will be the year everybody tries to catch up to Apple and the tablet computer market explodes.
While [Apple] is poised to introduce a new model in just a few weeks (barring some manufacturing hiccup), the likes of Microsoft, Blackberry’s RIM, Hewlett-Packard, and Google are gunning for them. A raft of consumer electronics companies, ranging from HDTV leader Vizio to Japanese heavyweight Toshiba to Palm OS owner HP, will introduce their own tablets. These will be in a variety of sizes and price ranges, in the hopes that the right balance will be struck to unseat Apple in the tablet space. [FoxNews.com]
Skyhook, the tiny Massachusetts company that created the location software in your iPhone, sued Google this week (pdf). David is charging Goliath with trying to keep its software out of Google’s Android mobile software platform in favor of Google’s own location service, and with encouraging Skyhook’s partners to break contracts.
In other words, Google is leveraging its OS market share to push its own affiliated products and snuff out competitors — kind of like Microsoft did with Internet Explorer on Windows 15 years ago. Yikes. [Wired.com]
Google says it hasn’t had the opportunity to review the legal action, so it has yet to comment.
Every three years the Librarian of Congress reviews the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and James H. Billington’s review just expanded digital freedom with this year’s ruling of new exemptions to the copyright law.
Jailbreak that iPhone
First and foremost, Billington ruled that it’s not against the law to jailbreak a phone (the practice of working around the device’s security system and taking more direct control of it). The Electronic Frontier Foundation lobbied hard for this, particularly with the iPhone in mind. Because Apple keeps tight reins on the device—offering only AT&T phone service and acting as gatekeeper for what apps can be added—many people had taken to jailbreaking the phone.
About 4 million iPhone and iPod Touch units had been jailbroken as of last August, and were accessing apps from a sort of black-market storefront called Cydia, the marketplace’s founder told Wired. The store is a haven for many developers that Apple, the gatekeeper to its App Store, has ignored or turned away [Los Angeles Times].
Earlier today on Apple’s Cupertino campus, Steve Jobs held a press conference regarding the iPhone 4 reception saga, which he said is not “antenna-gate.” The overall gist: Jobs says the iPhone 4′s reception isn’t perfect, but not any worse than other phone’s, and Apple will give out a free “bumper” case to iPhone 4 phone buyers.
The cases are meant to reduce the dropped reception problem that can occur if a person’s hand covers a crucial bit of the antenna. The bumpers will be free until September 30th, and buyers can return their phones for a refund if still unhappy.
We’ve rounded up opinions of Jobs’ conference, which you can catch a video of through Apple’s site, here.
Jobs started the meeting by showing other phones (BlackBerry Bold, Droid Eris…) also dropping signal strength depending on how they’re held. But some think that comparing the iPhone 4 to other devices isn’t a valid excuse when you have a brand built on exclusivity (and expense).
The hack that stole the email addresses of iPad users wasn’t even a hack in the truest sense, security experts are saying today. The Goatse Security team that pulled off the feat simply overpowered bad software.
The story broke yesterday that a leak in AT&T’s security had given away the email addresses of more than 100,000 people, including some of the famous and influential who were first to adopt the tablet—Diane Sawyer, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and even White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
The specific information exposed in the breach included subscribers’ email addresses, coupled with an associated ID used to authenticate the subscriber on AT&T’s network, known as the ICC-ID. ICC-ID stands for integrated circuit card identifier and is used to identify the SIM cards that associate a mobile device with a particular subscriber [Gawker].
“Stop me if you’ve already seen this.” So joked Steve Jobs today at the official rollout of the iPhone 4, which will be available June 24 in the United States. Back in his native habitat of a product reveal, the be-turtlenecked one made light of the multiple iPhone 4 leaks (including the famous incident of the lost phone prototype) as he demonstrated the phone’s new features.
The iPhone 4 is sleeker and more advanced than the original iPhone that came out in 2007. Like the iPhone 3GS, it comes in black or white, though it has a more angular look. Its front and back are covered with glass, and it is rimmed with stainless steel that acts as part of the phone’s antenna. It is about three-eighths of an inch thick; the iPhone 3GS is nearly half an inch. It can shoot high-definition video, catching up to some other smart phones. It has a gyroscope in addition to other sensors, to enable more advanced motion-sensing applications, such as games and mapping services [AP].
The Retina display is what’s really turning heads.