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iOS 7.1.1 makes in-app purchases clear in Top Grossing chart

Along with minor tweaks and bug fixes, today’s release of iOS 7.1.1 sees Apple continuing to make it clear which apps support in-app purchases. Now, the Top Grossing chart in the App Store lists when an app has in-app purchases.

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This is the latest step the company has taken to point out which apps may eventually cost more than their initial purchase price.

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"I like the Amazon Kindle app and use it exclusively. iBooks in NZ took so long to get here, Apple lost out."

- Anthony Lister, responding via Twitter

"iBooks is great, but the range & pricing of Amazon makes Kindle a clear winner on my iPad."

- Jason Cordelle, responding via Facebook


Apple releases iOS 7.1.1

iOS 7.1.1, an update to Apple’s mobile operating system, is now available for download. The update lists improvements to Touch ID fingerprint recognition, the virtual keyboard, and Bluetooth keyboard usage.

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While complaints regarding iOS 7.1’s keyboard space key have been fairly widespread, the update appears to address keyboard responsiveness issues rather than design.


Apps: 1Password 4.5, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Health Mate 2.0 + WeMo 1.5.1

AgileBits is calling its newest version of 1Password ($9) its biggest update ever — an apt time for it, considering the catastrophic Heartbleed bug. The password manager and secure wallet app has been rebuilt for speed and productivity in version 4.5. 1Password now supports multiple vaults and sharing from the Mac or Windows versions of 1Password. Multiple Dropbox accounts are also now supported. The app’s browser has been improved, with easier login and checkout, and one button for autofill.

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New from Gameloft is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($5), a new fighting adventure based on the upcoming film. Players can guide an impressively-animated Spider-Man through an open world, web-slinging and wall climbing while fighting many recognizable characters from the Spider-Man universe. While the game has been designed to encourage exploration, enabling Spider-Man to move throughout a giant and impressively populated city, the swinging, climbing, and jumping controls haven’t quite been perfected, nor have the camera controls, collectively making navigation and movement somewhat confusing. The non-linear design also leaves Spider-Man to fight minor crooks and take on side missions that feel both repetitive and not particularly meaningful, rather than tackling big villains. It’s not a bad game, but with a bit of extra polish, it could have been a great one.

Apple Reuse & Recycling program expands to iPad

Apple has expanded its in-store Reuse & Recycling program to iPad, 9to5Mac reports. Previously, only iPhones could be traded in for credit toward other iPhones. Now, iPads can be traded in for credit, and credit from iPhones and iPads can be applied to a newer version of either device. It’s noted that Apple is less lenient on used iPad conditions — for example, stores won’t accept an iPad with a cracked screen, but will accept an iPhone in the same condition. Apple won’t accept trade-ins of its newest current devices — iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display, and iPhone 5s and 5c — or its retired devices.

Apple offering free recycling of used products in stores

Apple is now offering free recycling for all of its used products in its retail stores, the Associated Press reports. Previously, only some devices could be recycled in-store. The company will still give out gift cards for devices with monetary value. Apple’s recycling policy change coincides with Earth Day and the company’s new environmental campaign.

Report: 5.5” ‘iPhone Air’ may not be seen until 2015

Apple’s rumored 5.5” iPhone may not hit the market until 2015 due to battery issues, according to Taiwan’s Commercial Times. The phone — referred to in the report as “iPhone Air” — supposedly needs a battery that’s 2mm or less in thickness. Suppliers need more time to meet Apple’s requirements, thus delaying the phone. While the report doesn’t seem completely unreasonable, it’s worth noting that the Commercial Times previously claimed a 4.8” “iPhone Math” — almost certainly a translation error — would arrive last year. [via G for Games]

Apple interviewing candidates for mobile payment service

Apple has been interviewing senior payments industry executives as the company looks to move forward with its own mobile payments service, Re/Code reports. The company is looking to hire for two new positions — head of product and head of business development — concentrating “exclusively on building a business around the hundreds of millions of credit cards it already has on file.” Apple executive Jennifer Bailey is reportedly leading the initiative — a prior report noted Bailey was in a new role. A source said on the plans, “their ambitions are very, very serious.” While this report claims that the initiative is now further along, rumors of an iTunes-based mobile payment service have been circulating for long enough that it’s hard to imagine the company is just staffing up for this purpose now.

Apple launches environmental responsibility campaign

Apple has launched a new environmental responsibility campaign with a revamped environmental webpage on its site. The new site includes a short film, “Better,” narrated by CEO Tim Cook. “But now, more than ever, we will work to leave the world better than we found it,” Cook says. The page includes information on how Apple is reducing its impact on climate change, and how the company is conserving resources and reducing toxins in its products. Environmental reports are also included for each current Apple product.

Apple TV adds A&E, History, Lifetime channels

Apple has added three new channels to Apple TV: A&E, The History Channel, and Lifetime. All three channels from A+E Networks require a cable subscription for full access — currently, only DirecTV, Cablevision Optimum and Verizon FiOS subscribers can gain access to all included content.

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The networks are home to popular shows like Storage Wars, Duck Dynasty, Pawn Stars, and American Pickers. Recently, the A&E and History iOS apps were both updated to offer live streaming TV.

Nike stopping FuelBand production

Nike is stopping production of wearable hardware, including its FuelBand fitness tracker, CNET reports. Most of the team responsible for the development of FuelBand has reportedly been fired, as Nike is shifting its focus from hardware to fitness and athletic software. A new, slimmer version of the FuelBand was canceled, as have “all future physical product projects under the Digital Sport helm.” Nike will continue to sell its second-generation FuelBand SE — reviewed here — for the time being. While the report notes that it makes less sense for Nike to stay in hardware when there are so many fitness trackers on the market — a somewhat confusing suggestion given the FuelBand’s popularity — the company could also avoid competing with upcoming devices such as Apple’s iWatch. Apple reportedly hired some key FuelBand developers last year.


Apple, Google seek exclusive game debuts

Both Apple and Google are approaching game developers to get top titles to debut first on their respective operating systems, the Wall Street Journal reports. The companies are both offering premium placement within their app stores in exchange for exclusivity.  It’s reported that Apple doesn’t offer money for exclusive game debuts, only “marketing or promotional assistance.”

Apple and EA reached a deal for the launch of Plants Vs. Zombies 2 last August — Apple got about two months of exclusivity for the game, and it was released on Android in October. ZeptoLab’s Cut the Rope 2 was also featured exclusively on Apple’s App Store for about three months. Gameloft has considered Apple exclusivity, but thus far has decided against it, opting for simultaneous iOS and Android launches.

iLounge Game Spotlight: Hitman GO

The Hitman game series has proven popular enough to spawn a number of sequels, as well as a feature film. And with the release of Hitman GO ($5), it’s clear Square Enix thinks the franchise still has legs, as Agent 47 makes a big move from stealth action/adventure to stealth strategy.

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It’s important for gamers to think of Hitman GO as a spinoff, rather than a proper continuation of the franchise. Perhaps Agent 47 will become the next Mario, popping into go-karts, onto tennis courts, and so forth. Or not. Hitman GO is a puzzler made to look like a board game, as Agent 47 is merely a piece to be moved strategically from space to space. The game’s most “violent” moments involve knocking over other pieces. This is way more fun than it initially sounds.

Alleged next-gen iPad Air front panel leaked

  • April 18, 2014
  • iPad

Alleged leaked pictures of the next-generation iPad Air show a new integrated display. The photos, posted by Dutch site One More Thing, show the LCD layer integrated into the glass display, and the site says it appears the device may be even thinner than the current iPad Air.

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If the overall dimensions stay the same, an integrated display could give Apple a bit more room for internal components, including a larger battery. It’s rumored that the new iPad will come with Touch ID and an A8 processor. [via MacRumors]

Apps: Baby Bundle, Breeze, Helpouts + iOOTP Baseball 2014

The recently released free Baby Bundle app from Nicab Inc claims to be “the first all-in-one parenting app developed by a pediatric expert.” The app offers a free daily activity monitor for sleeping, feeding, diaper changing, and pumping, a parenting guide, and an interactive forum for parents to offer questions and comments. In-app purchases include a photo journal, vaccination and check-up organizer, health reference feature, growth tracker, and a simple iOS-to-iOS device baby monitor. Data can be synchronized on up to four iOS devices.

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Breeze (free) is a fitness tracking app from FitnessKeeper, best known for the RunKeeper app. The new app only works on the iPhone 5s, using the phone’s M7 motion coprocessor to automatically track steps throughout the day. As soon as Breeze is downloaded, it asks the user if it can access motion data — it then gives users the last seven days of data, the very first time the app is used. A few quick jaunts around the house with the 5s in pocket showed us Breeze was capable of tracking steps with solid accuracy as it ran in the background. Users can choose to get status updates on their progress throughout the day, and Breeze claims to not be a battery hog. For many users who want to get an idea of their daily activity levels without committing to a fitness tracking accessory, Breeze is a great option.


Apple selling refurbished iPad mini with Retina display

  • April 17, 2014
  • iPad

Apple is now selling refurbished iPad mini with Retina display models for the first time in its online store. The 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacity Wi-Fi models are being sold in both silver and space gray. Prices for the refurbished models are $339, $419, and $509, respectively. No refurbished Wi-Fi + Cellular options are currently available. [via 9to5Mac]

Yahoo aims to become default iOS Safari search engine

Yahoo is attempting to make its search engine the default option on Apple’s iPhone and iPad Safari browsers, Re/Code reports. Though it is a major goal for Yahoo, it “has not happened as yet officially and no deal is imminent.” Currently, Google is the default search on iOS, though users can change that to Yahoo through setting adjustments.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly has the attention of some Apple executives, including SVP of design Jony Ive. One source said “it will take more than pretty pictures” to get Apple to switch from Google as the default browser, as Apple aims for providing a top-notch user experience. It’s notable that Apple already uses Yahoo to power its iOS weather and stocks apps.

Apple working with Shazam on iOS song discovery feature

Apple is partnering with Shazam on a song discovery feature that will appear in a future iOS update, Bloomberg reports. The new feature will not require a separate download, and it will also incorporate Siri so that an iPhone user has the option of doing a voice search for what song is playing. It’s likely the app will then be able to link users to iTunes to purchase the song — as the report notes, Apple has been considering several options on how to tweak iTunes, with a number of rumors and reports already floating about. Though it’s pointed out that Apple will preview iOS 8 at its Worldwide Developer Conference next month, it’s unclear if the new feature will be a part of the next major iteration of iOS, or if it will come in a separate update.

iWatch poll ends, first accessory poll begins

Our latest poll, Which potential iWatch feature are you most interested in?, has now closed. With new rumours continuing to circulate about Apple’s coming iWatch, including reports that the device may have a more health or fitness based focus, we were curious to know what our readers would most like to see in the new device.

Interestingly, thirty-two percent of readers responded that they have no interest in the iWatch at all. Twenty-two percent of readers were interested in fitness tracking applications, while nineteen percent wanted to see phone/messaging integration, and sixteen percent thought that monitoring vital signs would be of interest. The remaining responses were split somewhat evenly between media playback controls, induction charging, and a sapphire display.

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