Weekend news roundup

19 Apr 2010

A quick glance at some of the technology stories breaking in the weekend papers.

iPad killers fight back

The Sunday Times reports that as Apple prepares to unleash the iPad in Ireland and the UK, its rivals are preparing their fightback, rushing to create and release their own tablet computers, devices already dubbed the “iPad killers”.

Moreover, the attack on the iPad is coming on several fronts. The mobile-phone maker Nokia is believed to be planning a similar machine designed mainly to read electronic books. Microsoft is flirting with the idea of creating a tablet. Even Google could enter the fray with a slate of its own.

Inevitably, other computer manufacturers — companies such as Acer, Toshiba and HP — are readying their devices, following hard on the heels of the German company Neofonie, which has unveiled the WePad. Its 11.6-inch touchscreen tablet will come with a high-definition screen, it said, and will go in sale in August, priced between €450 (£394) and €569.

The iPad has been a hit so far — Apple said it had sold 500,000 units since it was released in the United States on 3 April — but it has been plagued with problems. New users have complained of trouble with Wi-Fi connections and with iPhone applications crashing when loaded onto the iPad.

Developers at war

The Observer points to a brewing war over Apple’s development ecosystem, particularly how it treats developers for its popular iPhone and iPad products. Last week’s announcement by Apple that the UK launch of the iPad will be delayed by a month was the headline news for consumers, but for geeks a more significant development came on Thursday with some changes in the 21,000-word “agreement” that you have to sign if you are going to develop applications for Apple’s iDevices.

Section 3.3.1 of the document stipulates that “Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++ and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the documented APIs (eg, applications that link to documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).”

EU tackles child porn

The Sunday Business Post’s Reality Bytes column points to a proposal by the European Commission for a directive requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to ban access to websites displaying child pornography. Unfortunately, argues Adrian Weckler, this is the wrong action to take.

It won’t prevent access to the websites in question, and it will start a legislative ball rolling where industry lobby groups will begin to agitate for bans on access to all manner of websites.

The commission’s rationale is that many illegal websites are hosted outside the European Union. Therefore, argues Weckler, it has no power to prosecute the website owners or shut the sites down. The next best move, it reckons, is to compel ISPs across the EU to block access to such sites.

Apple’s just the ticket

The Sunday Telegraph reports that a new patent filed by Apple indicates that the iPod-maker is looking to enter the concert-ticketing business through its iTunes store. A report at patentlyapple.com examines a system Apple calls “Concert Ticket +”.

The system has obvious applications for the company’s music business, with customers being able to purchase concert tickets that could be downloaded to their iPhones or iPods, and then used to gain entry to a venue. In its filing, the company also says that the barcode-based system would avoid the problems of concert-goers forgetting their tickets, as well as bringing the environmental advantages of a paperless system. It could also be used for discount codes or additional benefits.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years