There were those who were skeptical when Steve Jobs said Blu-ray was a “bag of hurt.” Many people thought the standard would one day come to Macs, despite Jobs’ early resistance. But here we are several years later, and optical disc drives are all but dead now across the Mac family; Blu-rays never were officially supported. However, if you own Blu-ray discs, you likely know there are lot of hardware and software options that allow you to read and play them. There’s also MakeMKV (Free), a tool for ripping them to your computer that works as long as you have the appropriate hardware.
Roughly six months after we covered the original Airframe car vent mount, Kenu has released Airframe+ ($30), a tweaked version capable of supporting larger devices. Now promising to fit devices with up to 6" screen sizes -- notably including both of the as-yet-unreleased iPhone Air/6 models -- Airframe + ditches the gray accents of the original model in favor of black, and offsets the car vent mounting point to be closer to the center of a larger device. Fully case-compatible and as handsome as before, it sells for a $5 premium. Because it's so similar to its predecessor, this text includes observations from our prior review.
Apple has reinstated popular Bitcoin wallet app Blockchain to the App Store. It’s not an entirely unexpected move, considering Apple recently started allowing Bitcoin apps back in the App Store, after making a change to its App Store Review Guidelines. Blockchain was originally pulled from the App Store in February. Nicolas Cary, Blockchain’s CEO, told Bloomberg that Blockchain’s Bitcoin wallet has 1.9 million users.
Today in iLounge Deals you can grab the Spigen Kuel Dual USB Car Charger for only $25. Providing two full 10W USB ports, the Kuel allows you to charge even two iPads simultaneously at full speed while on the go.
Apple Stores will soon allow customers to purchase new iPhones using early upgrade programs from carriers, including AT&T Next, T-Mobile JUMP, and Verizon Edge, according to 9to5Mac. It’s unclear whether or when Apple will support Sprint’s One Up program. The report claims that “many” stores will offer the purchase option in late August, ahead of the expected iPhone 6 September launch. At the moment, any iPhone purchased in an Apple Store must be bought with a two-year contract or at full price with no contract.
Plantronics, the makers of our favorite Bluetooth earbuds to date, are back with BackBeat Fit ($130), a pair of wireless sport headphones. Coming in black with either bright green or blue accents, the headphones are outfitted with a band that wraps around the back of the head. Each rubber earbud is designed to funnel audio into the ear canal properly, and includes a stabilizing inner ear ring. Controls on either side let you answer calls or play/pause music, and the headphones are protected from sweat and moisture. Listening time is claimed at eight hours, with 14 days of standby time, and a power saving hibernation mode that allows them to stay charged for up to six months when not paired. An included neoprene carrying case reverses to double as a workout armband.
Re/code is reporting that Apple is about to acquire Swell, an app described as “Pandora-for-talk-radio,” for $30 million. Although it hasn’t yet been confirmed by either company, the report cites multiple sources, and Re/code has a strong track record when it comes to Apple news. According to the report, the app will shut down this week, as Apple attempts to improve its podcast-listening experience. It was also revealed late Friday by TechCrunch that Apple recently acquired BookLamp, described as a “Pandora for books.”
The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill today that will legalize cell phone unlocking, following the Senate’s approval of the bill last week. All the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act” needs now is for President Obama to sign the bill into law — a virtual guarantee considering the White House has already expressed its support for legally unlocking phones. The bill covers any device that operates on a wireless network. Currently, consumers need carrier permission to get a phone unlocked. However, the Library of Congress will revisit the rule again in 2015, so there’s a possibility phone unlocking could become illegal again in the future after this bill is passed into law.
Bose is suing Beats over noise-canceling technology patents used in headphones, according to CNBC. Patent search site PriorSmart.com appears to have a list of the five Bose patents cited in the case. The patents cover signal processing and high frequency compensation, among other aspects of noise-canceling technology. Beats Electronics and Beats Electronics International are both listed as defendants in the suit. [via 9to5Mac]
Modern Combat 5: Blackout ($7) is one of the most high-profile iOS games to be released this year. Blackout is the latest first-person shooter in Gameloft’s Call of Duty-esque series, and this time around, there are no in-app purchases to be found. However, an internet connection is required to play at all times.
As Modern Combat players will expect, Blackout has a great presentation. From the seriously impressive, detailed graphics, to the immersive sound and all of the requisite bells and whistles one would expect, there’s no doubt that Gameloft’s newest is a truly premium title. It’s important to note the frame rate during the game was solid for us on an iPad mini with Retina display, whether in single-player or multiplayer mode.