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A roundup of the latest high-tech news from The Associated Press:

• iPhone update might address multitasking complaint

SEATTLE — Topping the and the iPad: broader ability to run more than one program at a time.
On Thursday, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) will unveil updates to the software that powers both devices. Although Apple has provided no details, iPhone owners and computer programmers who write applications for the popular smart phone are hoping the company will address their gripes about limits to such multitasking. The matter may escalate as people with iPads, which have larger screens, try to use them in place of more powerful computers.

The iPhone already allows for some multitasking, but that’s largely limited to Apple’s own programs. One of Apple’s recent commercials shows an iPhone user taking advantage of time spent on hold paying bills, checking e-mail, playing games and then switching back to calling.

But Apple has yet to give users ways to seamlessly switch among all the software "apps" available from outside software companies, the way phones from rivals Palm Inc. and Google Inc. already do.

So an iPhone user wouldn’t be able to listen to music using the Pandora program and check a bank account online simultaneously, for example. In most cases, users must return to Apple’s home screen, effectively quitting the open program, before starting a new task.

The new version of the iPhone system that Apple is announcing Thursday, likely to be known as OS 4.0, probably won’t be available for a few months. Most of the changes would have immediate appeal to software developers, not regular users, said Charles Golvin, an analyst for Gartner Inc.

• iPad reportedly costs $259.60 to make

NEW YORK — may promise a computing revolution, but Apple’s new gadget is also a pile of glass, metal and electronic innards — $259.60 worth, or about half the retail price, according to an independent estimate released Wednesday.

After taking the iPad apart and adding up the estimated costs of the components, the market research firm iSuppli said the low-end version of Apple’s new gadget costs about $250.60 in parts. Manufacturing costs $9 more. Combined, that’s 52 percent of the $499 price for that model.

That doesn’t mean Apple’s making a nearly 50 percent profit. There are development costs, marketing and other factors to take into account. Apple didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

ISuppli’s analysis does offer some sense of what you’re paying for.

A lot of the cost, it turns out, is that sleek, user-friendly touch screen. Each iPad contains an estimated $109.50 worth of components that provide the user interface, or about 44 percent of the total cost of the parts. For instance, just the glass display, which measures 9.7-inch diagonally, costs $65.

Second in cost in the low-end, 16-gigabyte version is the memory, which runs about $30. Then comes the battery for $21.

Apple began selling the iPad on Saturday starting at $499. Versions with more memory run $599 and $699, and the company plans to start selling models with cellular wireless capability later this month, starting at $629. The versions now out offer only Wi-Fi wireless connections.

• E-mail encryption firm Zix says 1Q new orders rise

DALLAS — (Nasdaq: ZIXI) said Wednesday that new first-year orders in its fiscal first quarter doubled from a year ago. The e-mail encryption company also affirmed its revenue and adjusted earnings for the quarter.

New, first-year orders are those from new customers or existing customers who added to their orders.

Total orders for its e-mail encryption service came to $9.2 million. Among customers whose contracts came up for renewal in the first quarter ended March 31, 93 percent renewed.

In February, Zix said it expects to post an annual profit for the first time in 2010. It forecast revenue of $34 million to $36 million and earnings of 5 cents per share to 8 cents per share. Excluding one-time items and stock-based compensation costs, earnings should come in between 8 cents per share and 11 cents per share.

Zix, based in Dallas, plans to release first-quarter earnings on April 27 after the market’s close.