Jobs resigns as Apple CEO; educators ponder his ed-tech legacy

Jobs' presentations became famous as he rolled out Apple's newest mobile technology.

Though Steve Jobs wasn’t at Apple’s helm during the twelve years the company established itself as the leader in educational technology in the 1980s and 90s, it was his vision that brought computing into the education mainstream, ed-tech leaders say.

“For those of us who began our careers in education in the mid-70s, Steve Jobs, along with Steve Wozniak, brought to life the first glimpses of what would become educational technology,” said Jim Hirsch, associate superintendent for academic and technology services at the Plano, Texas, Independent School District. “From the first Apple IIs that came with 4K of memory and stored programs on cassette tapes, the promise of what could be illuminated the glimmer of our teachers’ imagination.”

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Future of eReading: Following your eyes?

Text 2.0 uses infrared light and a camera to track eye movement across a screen.
Text 2.0 uses infrared light and a camera to track eye movement across a screen.

As eReading devices and the software that runs them become more advanced in an increasingly competitive market, researchers are creating applications that could take reading to a whole new level, with tools such as Text 2.0—a reading technology that personalizes the user’s experience by tracking eye movements.

Created by researchers Ralf Biedert, Georg Buscher, and Andreas Dengal at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Text 2.0 uses eye-tracking technology from Tobii Technology (a Stockholm-based startup that just closed $21.5 million in Series B funding from venture capitalists), along with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, to customize reading based on signals sent by eye movement.

Text 2.0 uses infrared light and a camera to track eye movement across a screen, and it uses this information to infer a user’s intentions during the course of reading.…Read More

Ahead of the bell: Apple’s iPhone on T-Mobile?

The Associated Press reports that the iPhone will be available on other cell phone networks as early as this fall and will likely come first to T-Mobile USA, one analyst who follows Apple Inc. closely said June 10. In a note to investors, Shaw Wu, of Kaufman Bros., said his checks with Apple suppliers and others suggest AT&T Inc. will lose its exclusive place as the iPhone carrier no later than the first half of next year. One reason T-Mobile is a likely candidate is because the company’s wireless technology is similar to AT&T’s. Sprint and Verizon Wireless use a different wireless standard, so converting the iPhone to run on their networks would presumably involve more technical hurdles. Wu said T-Mobile also sees the iPhone as key to winning back lost customers, meaning the company will be more likely to settle for Apple’s terms…

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Amazon threatens eBook publishers as Apple looms

As Apple builds its electronic bookstore, Amazon.com is trying to use its clout to hold on to its early lead in the market, reports the New York Times. Amazon.com has threatened to stop directly selling the books of some publishers online unless they agree to a detailed list of concessions regarding the sale of electronic books, according to two industry executives with direct knowledge of the discussions. The hardball approach comes less than two months after Amazon shocked the publishing world by removing the “buy” buttons from its site for thousands of printed books from Macmillan, one of the country’s six largest publishers, in a dispute over eBook pricing. Amazon is the largest online seller of printed books and the biggest eBook seller in the United States. The company is pressuring publishers just as Apple is also preparing to sell digital books for reading on its iPad tablet, which will reach the market in early April. Five of the country’s six largest publishers—Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Penguin—already have reached deals with Apple to sell their books through its iBookstore, which will be featured on the iPad. (The holdout is Random House…)

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Math of publishing meets the eBook

In the emerging world of e-books, many consumers assume it is only logical that publishers are saving vast amounts by not having to print or distribute paper books, leaving room to pass along those savings to their customers, reports the New York Times. Publishers largely agree, which is why in negotiations with Apple, five of the six largest publishers of trade books have said they would price most digital editions of new fiction and nonfiction books from $12.99 to $14.99 on the forthcoming iPad tablet — significantly lower than the average $26 price for a hardcover book. But publishers also say consumers exaggerate the savings and have developed unrealistic expectations about how low the prices of e-books can go. Yes, they say, printing costs may vanish, but a raft of expenses that apply to all books, like overhead, marketing and royalties, are still in effect.

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Apple: Underage workers may have built your iPhone

That iPhone you adore may have been built by a child. Nearly a dozen underage teens were working for Apple-contracted facilities in 2009, the company has revealed, PCWorld reports. The news was posted to Apple’s web site under a section labeled “Supplier Responsibility.” The underage workers, Apple says, were at three different suppliers’ facilities. Though the specific locations aren’t disclosed, the report says inspectors visited facilities in China, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. The factories in question built iPhones, iPods, and various Apple computers. “Across the three facilities, our auditors found records of 11 workers who had been hired prior to reaching the legal age, although the workers were no longer underage or no longer in active employment at the time of our audit,” the report says. The legal age in the facilities’ countries, according to Apple’s report, is 16. The workers in question were only 15 when they were hired.

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Apple bans some apps for sex-tinged content

Apple has started banning many applications for its iPhone that feature sexually suggestive material, including photos of women in bikinis and lingerie, reports the New York Times—a move that came as an abrupt surprise to developers who had been profiting from such programs. The company’s decision to remove the applications from its App Store over the last few days indicates that it is not interested in giving up its tight control over the software available there, even as competitors like Google take a more hands-off approach. When asked about the change, Apple said it was responding to complaints from App Store users. Philip W. Schiller, head of worldwide product marketing at Apple, said in an interview that over the last few weeks a small number of developers had been submitting “an increasing number of apps containing very objectionable content. … It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see.”

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Apple and e-book DRM: Will they? Should they?

With Apple already firmly entrenched in the realms of digital music and video, it was only a matter of time before the company got into the future of the printed word, reports Macworld. But aside from the few hints Apple CEO Steve Jobs dropped at the iPad unveiling last month, relatively little is known about the company’s forthcoming iBookstore. Case in point: will the e-books that Apple sells contain digital rights management? And, given that Apple has made such a big push to sell music free of DRM restrictions, should the company enforce it on books? Will they?

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Why Apple won’t let the Mac and iPhone succeed in business

Last summer, it looked like Apple was finally going to make its Macs and iPhones enterprise-capable, giving hope to those who wanted a more stable, less failure-prone option at the office. Soon, it appeared, Macs and iPhones would no longer need to come in through the back door, or be relegated to “special” departments such as software development or marketing, InfoWorld reports. Don’t count on it. Bolstered by Windows Vista’s travails and the advent of OS-neutral Web apps, the Mac is no doubt on the rise in business. Even IT pros have begun warming up to the Mac. After all, a business-class MacBook Pro costs the same as a business-class Windows PC, so there’s no cost disadvantage to buying Mac hardware. And I hear consistently from IT folks who manage both Macs and PCs that Mac hardware tends to fail less frequently than PCs do and that its OS is more stable than Windows, translating into lower internal IT support costs. (Apple’s support plans cost about $30 more per year than what a Dell, Lenovo, or HP charges, and they require you to bring a Mac in to an authorized repair shop, which can be an issue for IT when the Macs do have problems.)

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Apple iPad Price Cut: Blunder or Brilliance?

If Apple is really considering price cuts on its just-introduced iPad, the best advice is to make them before launch, not after, according to PC World.

Not today, or tomorrow, but a price drop a week–or even a day–before it goes on sale might give the iPad an incredible boost. I will also describe what other businesses can learn from Apple’s troubles.

The iPad has been gradually settling back to early after a less than stellar Steve Jobs introduction on Jan. 27. The truth is that, for many, a supersized iPod touch just isn’t too terribly interesting.…Read More