Developer Offers a Brief Look Inside Apple’s Secrecy Efforts

Business Insider offers some details from one of the first outside developers to work with the original iPad before its debut. A developer who was entrusted with a pre-release version of the iPad has detailed some of Apple’s extensive efforts.

Leaked iPad Photo
Leaked photo of iPad bolted to table

The developer, who created a “very successful” iPad app but wished to remain unnamed, told Business Insider in an interview that he was “probably the sixth person to get an iPad”. In order to allow early access to a test unit, Apple made him agree to strict conditions, such as the use of room with no windows and new locks.

Apple also took down the names and social security numbers of the four developers allowed in the room. To ensure the device was secure, Apple drilled a hole in a desk and chained the prototype to it using bicycle cables. They also used custom frames to disguise the appearance of the iPad. In addition, Apple took pictures of the wood grain of the desk so that any leaked pictures could be traced back to the developer.

The criteria was that we had to have a room with no windows. They changed the locks on the door.

Three developers and I were the only people allowed to go in the room. Apple needed the names and social security numbers of the people who had access.

Apple needed to be able to drill a hole in the desk and chain the devices to desk. They used those bicycle cables.

They had these custom frames built around them so we couldn’t even tell what the iPads looked like. We could plug into them so we could code to them and we could touch the screen and play with that, but we couldn’t see the form factor.

Then they took pictures of the wood grain. If any pictures leaked out, they could trace it back to which desk they came from.

The developer was forbidden to tell anyone about the project, not even his company’s CEO or his wife, about the project. “You’re going to get fired if this doesn’t work,” his wife told him.

You would think these security measures would have been enough to prevent photos from leaking, but several photos of the device in testing leaked the night before the iPad was unveiled.

 

Adobe Unveils PDF Creation App for iOS

Today, MacStories has discovered that Adobe  released a new iOS app called “CreatePDF”. “CreatePDF” is a $9.99  universal app allowing users to easily create PDFs on their iPhones or iPads. Adobe claims that  CreatePDF  brings the same high-quality PDF creation as Adobe Acrobatto iOS devices. In addition, the app uses Adobe’s  online services for performance and quality, creating PDFs that offer quality and accessibility standards.

CreatePDF

CreatePDF

Upon installing, CreatePDF registers as a default app to open Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, Adobe Illustrator drawings, Photoshop images and InDesign  files, in addition to Open Office and StarOffice documents and JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF and TIFF images.

The app currently supports the following file formats:

  • MS Word (docx, doc), Excel(xlsx, xls), PowerPoint (pptx, ppt)
  • Adobe Illustrator (ai), Photoshop (psd) and InDesign (indd)
  • Images JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF
  • RTF, Text and WordPerfect
  • OpenOffice and StarOffice documents

The app works through iOS’s built in “Open in” menu, which allows third party apps to communicate with each other by sending documents to other applications that support specific file types, such as PDF, .doc, or plain text.

You can purchase CreatePDF for $9.99 in the App Store.

[image credit: MacStories]

Why Amazon May Have the Best Chance at Dethroning the iPad

AmazonThe iPad currently commands more than an 80% market share of the entire tablet market. It sells way more than all the other tablets combined, and beats every other tablet on both, price and user experience.

Traditionally, Apple products have always offered the best user experience, but have always been priced at a premium. With the iPad, Apple managed to not only offer the best tablet experience, but also the lowest price among all tablet manufacturers, thanks to its excellent operational efficiency. Without sacrificing margins, Apple still makes a hefty profit on each iPad, and undercuts most other players like Samsung, Motorola and HTC.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab was a moderate success, and the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 is currently mired in litigation in the U.K. and the U.S., the most important markets.

Amazon is rumored to be working on a new tablet which will be based on Android. Here’s why I think Amazon has the best chance at offering a good alternative to the iPad, and maybe even surpassing it, at least in terms of sales.

Price

Last week, most of us had a very surprising revelation. Before HP announced that it would be discontinuing webOS smartphones and tablets, the HP TouchPad had abysmal sales. More than 90% of the limited TouchPad inventory was lying untouched. But then, it slashed the price of the HP TouchPad to $99 in the most popular fire sale of the year.

What followed was not entirely unexpected, but it did give us a lot of insight into what consumers really want. In less than a day, almost all the available HP TouchPads were sold out as consumers flocked to buy them for $99. I wanted to buy one too, but ran out of luck.

Amazon is expected to launch its tablet at a much lower price than the current crop of tablets. After the Kindle experience, Amazon knows that it stands to make the most money by selling its tablet to consumers at or slightly above cost, and then making money on digital content like ebooks, movies, videos, music etc. It is apparently working on two tablets currently, both of which will undercut the iPad.

Ecosystem

Consumers now expect an entire ecosystem with their devices. After Apple, Amazon is possibly best equipped to provide them with one. An Amazon tablet would come integrated with various Amazon services like the Kindle store, Amazon Appstore, Amazon’s Cloud Drive, Music Store, Amazon Instant Video etc.

Most of the other Android tablet manufacturers cannot provide the kind of ecosystem that Amazon can. They also make money from hardware sales, so they cannot undercut the iPad without taking a hit.

This is why Amazon has the best chance at capturing a large portion of the tablet market.

I’m definitely buying an Amazon tablet, are you?

United Airlines Deploying 11,000 iPads to Pilots

Today, in a press release United Airlines announced that it has committed a transition to using iPads as electronic flight bags and rolling out 11,000 iPads to United and Continental pilots. United said that their pilots will use the Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck app for iPad,  “the industry’s premier app featuring interactive, data-driven enroute navigation information and worldwide geo-referenced terminal charts. The enhanced full-color, high-quality information display ensures the right information is displayed at the right time.”. The Jeppesen’s Mobile FliteDeck app is available for free via the App Store, but requires a paid subscription to use Jeppesen’s services.

Pilot using iPad

Due to this transition, pilots will have less weight to carry in and out of the plane. In addition, the weight savings also saves fuel, while reducing the amount of unnecessary paper used and printed by airlines.

Each iPad, which weighs less than 1.5 pounds, will replace approximately 38 pounds of paper operating manuals, navigation charts, reference handbooks, flight checklists, logbooks and weather information in a pilot’s flight bag. A conventional flight bag full of paper materials contains an average of 12,000 sheets of paper per pilot. The green benefits of moving to EFBs are two-fold–it significantly reduces paper use and printing, and, in turn, reduces fuel consumption. The airline projects EFBs will save nearly 16 million sheets of paper a year which is equivalent to more than 1,900 trees not cut down. Saving 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 3,208 metric tons.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Adminstration approved the use of iPads to replace paper flight bags, with Alaska Air being the first airlines to adopt the iPad.  Many other airlines have also started to quickly adopt the iPad as flight bags, including American Airlines and Delta.

Electronic manuals on iPads are becoming popular because they can reduce around 40 pounds of paper weight per pilot and are easier to navigate, read and keep up to date, color graphics, and automatically update rather than going through many papers.  But remember, iPads are just for consuming content, not for real work!

5 Must Have Back to School iPad Apps for 2011

That time of year is here once again. Summer is coming to an end, students are gathering their supplies, and classes will soon be in session once again. I know that many students, like myself, are getting iPads to use in class. I have been searching all summer for the apps that I think every student needs to have on their Apple tablet.

Now, before we get to the list, lets talk about iPads as education tools. For me, the iPad serves a handful of different purposes in my educational adventure. The first major use is as a textbook replacement. I hated having to carry heavy books around all the time, and bought an iPad to replace those. The benefits include having a light alternative, being able to save money by buying e-books, and still having full color diagrams. That brings me to my first pick.

1. Kno Textbooks (Free)

When I first started looking for textbook apps on the iPad, there weren’t that many options. I originally found CourseSmart, which is nice but doesn’t allow you to buy books in side the app, and Inkling, which doesn’t have a great selection of books. Then, I tried an app called Kno Textbooks.

Kno is a start-up company that originally started out making an education specific tablet. After determining the they couldn’t manage that project, the refocused on creating a great textbook app for the iPad. I can say that they have succeeded. They have a great selection, and in-app store, and a nice notation system.

The only feature I can’t seem to find is highlighting within the ebooks, but I can live without that. My one real gripe with Kno is that their entire collection of books is not available for purchase inside the app. however, you can access them all on the iPad, as well as in your browser and even on Facebook.

Alternatives: CourseSmart (Free), Inkling (Free)

When I originally got my iPad, I didn’t think I would be able to take notes with it. My original thinking was that I would try to type on the on-screen keyboard into something like Evernote. I quickly decided that was a horrid idea, but that I still wanted to try taking notes on my iPad. So i bought myself a $10 stylus on Amazon and gave it a shot. That brings me to my second must have app.

2. Noteshelf ($4.99)

I have bought more handwriting/note taking apps than almost anything else on my iPad. I tried most of the major players, including Notes Plus and Penultimate. While some had features I liked (voice recording in Notes Plus), none of them were exactly perfect. However, I have settled on one, and that app is Noteshelf.

Noteshelf has a number of nice features that make note taking in lectures very easy. They have one of the best zoom features, which allows you to more easily write in an organized manner. They also offer the ability to group notebooks, export to many services (including Evernote and Dropbox), and many customization apps.

My only real issue with Noteshelf is that it doesn’t do voice recordings. However, I always export my notes to Evernote so that I can read them on any machine, and that wouldn’t save the recording. in order to record a lecture, I use AudioMemos ($0.99) which records in the background. I then upload them to Dropbox for later listening.

Alternatives: Penultimate ($1.99), Notes Plus ($4.99)

The next use I have for my iPad is as a quick reference tool kit. I have multiple apps that are specific to my studies, like nutrition disorder charts and vitamin synthesis tables. Overall, the iPad serves this purpose very well. However, it is lacking a native calculator app. That’s why my next must have is a calculator for the iPad.

3. Calculator for iPad (Free)

Calculators are something that you don’t think about much outside of the world of academia. if I have to do any simple math while on my MacBook Pro, I simply do it in the Spotlight bar. However, I don’t carry this machine to class. If I need to do some short math while working in a class, I turn to Calculator for iPad.

Now, this calculator app is not very advanced. It offers enough scientific calculator functions for me to be satisfied. Most of the math I do is simple algebra type stuff, with the occasional constant substitution. I have seen more advanced calculators in the App Store, but I don’t need anything better than what Calculator offers.

I’m not sure what to offer as an alternative to Calculator for iPad. If all you need is a basic/scientific calculator, then go with it. If you need something better, you will probably buy a real calculator. Either way, you would be happy getting the free version of this app.

As far as I know, almost every student these days are forced into using PDFs. Despite being one of the most insecure file formats currently on the market, many educational institutions force us to use them. When they do, I like to have the ability to annotate them on my iPad, and that’s what my next app does.

4. PDF-Notes (Free)

Annotating PDFs is probably one of the best things about owning an iPad. Many of my professors release notes and outlines in PDF format, and it’s very helpful to be able to mark those up on the fly. I have found what I consider to be one of the best apps for that, and its made even better by having a free version.

PDF-Notes is my app of choice for annotating PDFs. It offers a great set of features including highlighting, writing handwritten and typed notes, and even PDF management. It offers a great zoom feature that makes it easier to handwrite notes on PDF documents. You also get the ability to export the annotated documents to Dropbox, email, or even other apps.

My only complaint with the free version of PDF-Notes is the ads. However, those are there so that the developer makes some money for their work. There is a pay version available, but it costs a whole 10 bucks. I’m not sure I’ll buy it any time soon.

Alternatives: iAnnotate PDF ($9.99)

Now that you have all this information, from your notes to your prepped PDFs, you need to think about syncing it all with your computer. For most students, the iPad is not a replacement for a traditional computer. It makes a great supplementary tool, but needs to synced with your real machine. For that, I recommend this last app.

5. Evernote/Dropbox (Free)

That’s right, my last pick is actually two different apps. If you use all the apps I have listed, you will need to make use of both Dropbox and Evernote. You can sync your notes to Evernote or Dropbox from within Noteshelf, save your recordings to Dropbox, and even export your PDFs to either service.

I can’t imagine being a student without Evernote and Dropbox. It has eliminated my need to carry a flash drive with me all the time. It also helps me keep track of all my notes and documents for my courses. They have revolutionized my education, and they both have fantastic (and free) iPad apps.

If you are already a user of both of these services, then you have no reason not to grab these iPad apps. They give you all the features you could want, including fantastic mobile control. I highly recommend these apps. Seriously. Go get them.

Download and Get Ready To Learn

So there you have it. 5 apps that every student needs before they get into their classes this fall. They are all incredibly useful, and none of them are super expensive. If you are carrying Apple’s tablet to classes this year, make sure you have these installed.

A note on surviving in education: All work and no play makes sure you will fail. Use that iPad to relax as well. Watch some movies on it, read via the Kindle app, or play some games. Even download a nice Facebook app and talk to your friend. I promise you will regret it if you don’t.

I also know that these are not all the apps a student needs. The App Store is full of more specific research apps that students will find useful. My wife has many engineering calculators and charts on her iPad, and I keep mine full of nutrition information. Search around and find some apps that will be great for you.

What apps did I miss on my list? What kind of app do you think every student with an iPad needs? Let me know you suggestions and thoughts by leaving a comment below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Look Out RIM, US Govt Testing iPad & iPhone For Security Standards

Given Apple’s recent Q2 numbers  indicating a 113% growth in iPhone sales, it’s no real surprise that people love their iOS devices. Many businesses and organizations have been slowly loosening their grip on forcing employees to use ‘sanctioned’ devices (read: BlackBerrys) in order for provisioning and providing support on their corporate network. Employees are now being allowed to put their consumer devices to business use, provided they meet certain requirements. The US government is no different.

The US Department of Commerce recently signed off on a $44,000  purchase of ‘Apple Equipment’, which consists of 55 iPad 2 tablets and 5 16GB iPhone 4s. The acquisition request was put through by the National Institute of Standards and Technology  (NIST) and was approved just a few days ago. One of the most relevant things to keep in mind, is that NIST provides mandates and standard procedures for FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002). Among other things, FISMA governs the development, documentation and implementation of information security and information systems within government agencies. Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) are used to define standards developed by the US federal government for implementation in computer systems. This is where FIPS-140-1 and FIPS-140-2 come into play, which define a standard for cryptography modules.

As seen above, NIST has recently updated their Cryptographic Module Validation Program Process List  (PDF) to include both the iPad and iPhone FIPS cryptographic module tests. Both are in IUT (Implementation Under Testing) phase as of August 1st, 2011. This comes just after RIM announced the PlayBook to be the first FIPS-140-2 compliant tablet  for deployment within federal agencies.

Could this be an indicator that the US government is aggressively looking to bring iOS devices to their federal workforce instead of simply renewing contracts with Research in Motion for legacy BlackBerry devices? RIM has had the government supply market locked up for decades, it’s a very strict niche, but if anybody can force their way through, it’s Apple.

Twitter Launches HTML 5 Version of Twitter.com Aimed at iPad Users

As time goes on, we see more and more companies embracing the fact that the iPad is a force to be reckoned with. They spend there time developing apps for Apple’s tablet, redesigning content for its form factor, and even creating special versions of their sites for it. We can now add Twitter to the list of sites that have versions specifically for the Apple iPad.

Announced by @twittermobile, there is now a HTML 5 version of Twitter’s website, twitter.com, aimed specifically for the iPad. While Twitter has had an iPad app for a while now, this new user experience is designed to be used in the tablet mobile browser. It appears to be a hybrid of the desktop site and the HTML 5 based app.  It features a dual column design that is very reminiscent of the current desktop web experience.

If you prefer to use your iPad’s browser over using an app, then this is a great update for you. It is also a great example of how good a mobile web experience can be. I think other companies (Google+) could take a few notes from Twitter. The iPad offers a greater screen real-estate than the typical mobile phone, and it should be taken advantage of.

The timing on this release is pretty interesting. Facebook announced their own HTML 5 web app initiative, Project Spartan, a few months ago. While nothing has come out of that project yet, it is expected to show fruit any day now. Its possible that Twitter felt it was necessary to beat Facebook to a launch, and they have done just that.

According to Twitter, the new version of the site is not currently available to all users. I know that I could not access it just yet, but some users can. It is said to be rolling out to all users over the next week. When I manage to access the site, I will take some screenshots and post them (or someone could send me some.)

Skype for iPad Released Worldwide

It looks like our dreams are coming true. The official Skype app for iPad has begun its rollout to users. While it is currently only available to users in New Zealand, it is expected to make its way to other time zones during the next 24 hours. Many apps have come out this way in the past, according to TUAW.

We first covered the Skype iPad app back in June, when it was originally confirmed to TUAW. It is unclear as to why the app has been delayed till now. This new iPad version of Skype supports all the features of its iPhone brother. It looks like all features short of two-way video calling are supported on the original iPad, with that being a feature of the iPad 2.

TUAW reports that the iPad app is separate from the iPhone app, but will keep the same free price tag. It will also be capable of making calls over both 3G and Wi-Fi.According to previous reports, the iPad app will not be capable of file sharing.

Update:  It looks like Apple has decided to skip all that timezone non-sense and give the app to every user at once. You can pick it up in the App Store now. I have it downloaded, and will update with my impressions after I test it out. Stay tuned!

If you already have the Skype app for iPad, let us know what you think about it. If not, then let us know if you are excited about video calling coming to the iPad. Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

Fusion Garage Grid 10: JooJoo 2?

Fusion Garage, the company behind the controversial JooJoo tablet, or should I say the CrunchPad, is back with another tablet. The guys at Liliputing discovered a new listing for a device on the FCC website, by Fusion Garage. From the name and the design, it seems to be a 10 inch tablet. No other details are known yet, except that it might be codenamed the Grid 10.

Fusion Garage Grid 10

The CrunchPad was Michael Arrington’s pet project, and seemed quite promising when it was first announced. Of course, the iPad hadn’t been launched then, so it had a good chance of being one of the very first tablets. However, things went bad between Techcrunch and Fusion Garage, the company which was developing the CrunchPad, and after some very public mudslinging, they broke up.

Soon after that, Fusion Garage launched the JooJoo tablet. But by then, Apple had already announced the iPad, and we all know what happened next. The iPad created the entire tablet market, and continues to dominate it even now. The JooJoo, which was a tablet version of what we now know as Google’s Chromebook, with just a browser, died a silent death.

Rumors suggest that Android Honeycomb may power the new tablet by Fusion Garage. If that is true, I am willing to wager that it will be a huge failure again. If the Grid 10 is just another Android Honeycomb tablet, there is no plausible way in which Fusion Garage can beat biggies like Samsung, HTC or Motorola.

For now, let’s wait and watch.

Ustream Updates iOS App with a Native iPad Interface

Its obvious to anyone who owns one that the iPad is perfect for all of us couch potatoes out there. I know that I use mine the most while I am monitoring news feeds or studying my lecture notes. iPad owners are also very aware that we love to watch video on our tablets.

Beyond that consumption, many iPad faithfuls want to use their devices to produce content. While we have had apps like Pages and Numbers for a while now, the iPad 2 presents some unique opportunities for video production.

Ustream, a popular video streaming service, has heard our call, and they have given us an official iPad app. While it isn’t the first time Ustream has been available on iOS, this recent update is the first time its had a native iPad interface. I can tell you that the interface is sleek, useful, and intuitive, which are all high compliments coming form me.

The major features that you should get to know are probably the ability to stream straight from your iPad, and AirPlay compatibility. Thats right, with this app, you can stream your content from your iPad directly to you Ustream channel. This is a great step forward for content creators on the go.

AirPlay compatibility is something that I look for in many of the new iPad apps, and its good to see Ustream getting on the bandwagon. in case you missed it, AirPlay is the feature that allows a user to display app content, like video, on a second device, like a Mac or an Apple TV.

If you are interested in checking out the new Ustream for iPad, you can do so here. I recommend it if you already watch some Ustream content, or are looking for more to consume on your iPad. I know I will be trying my hand at content production through the app in the near future.