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Apps of the Week: Epic Zen Garden, OmniFocus, Evernote, Pocket + more

New Apps

Other than the new Health and Tips apps from Apple — check out our recent iOS 8 Instant Expert article for more details — the most notable new apps this week are third-party keyboards which can be used in iOS 8. We’ve started testing the keyboards, but we’ve run into a number of bugs early on. Look for a more detailed piece later.

New Games

Epic Zen Garden (free) — Epic Zen Garden from Epic Games was first seen at Apple’s WWDC in June, meant to show off Unreal Engine 4 and Apple’s Metal, a new system designed to improve graphics and processing in iOS games. We tried Epic Zen Garden on an iPhone 5s, and it did look nice, and the effects were impressive enough, but it’s barely a game. Download it just to get a hint of what Metal might have to offer down the line, but don’t feel bad about deleting it from your iPhone or iPad after 10 minutes or so.

First Look: Incipio DualPro Shine / Edge for iPhone 6 + NGP for iPhone 6 Plus

A few more iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cases are showing up before the devices have even been released. Incipio's DualPro Shine ($35) for iPhone 6 is a dual-layer rubber and plastic case with an aluminum finish on the back of the plastic shell. Edge ($30), also for iPhone 6, is a hard plastic shell slider case with a matte finish. Though it's a slider, Edge still retains the same standard port openings at the bottom of the case as seen in the DualPro Shine. NGP ($20) is a soft shell, flexible plastic case for iPhone 6 Plus. It comes in a number of colors, all translucent.

Mac: Booq Taipan shock

Booq has released a number of recent options for lugging around MacBooks, and the Taipan shock ($95) is the company’s newest. Taipan shock is currently the company’s least expensive backpack. It comes in black and can hold a 13” or 15” MacBook.

Daily Deal: 1 TB Of Online Backup with iDrive for only $19

Today in iLounge Deals you can get a one-year subscription to iDrive for only $19—that’s 60% off the normal price. With the iDrive Pro Personal Plan, you get one year with 1TB of encrypted cloud backup and 1TB of sync space in which you can safely back up your photos, videos, documents, contacts, and anything else you have on your computer. The plan also includes features such as multiple device backups, super-fast performance, Facebook backup, and 256-bit AES encryption with optional private key support to keep your files in the cloud secure on your terms.

Get iDrive Pro Personal now for one year for only $19

Apple and U2 working on ‘secret project’ to boost music sales

Last week, Apple and U2 teamed up to release the band’s newest album — Songs of Innocence — for free on iTunes. A new article from Time claims that the company and band are also teaming up on a “secret project” to boost digital music sales. According to the article, Bono “hopes that a new digital music format in the works will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music — whole albums as well as individual tracks.” Details are very sparse, but it’s highly possible that this new project could involve a long-rumored higher-bitrate iTunes audio format, and/or the inclusion of iTunes Extras for albums, as Apple currently does with HD videos.

First Look: Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set

The WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set ($100) is the newest entry in Belkin's lineup of home automation products that began two years ago with its WeMo Switch and WeMo Switch + Motion, and has been more recently expanding into everything from crock pots to humidifiers. With this latest entry, Belkin goes back to WeMo's roots with a lighting solution that is both functional and easy to install. The LED Lighting Starter Set includes two Smart LED bulbs that can be screwed into any standard light fixture along with a new "WeMo Link" bridge that plugs into a standard wall receptacle, providing connectivity between the bulbs and the Wi-Fi network. Additional bulbs sell for $30 each, and the system provides support for up to 50 bulbs on a single WeMo Link. The bulbs can be controlled individually or in groups using the free WeMo iOS app.

Review: Spigen F70Q 7000mAh Dual Portable Quick Charger

Better known for its cases and screen protectors than electronic accessories, Spigen is now offering a USB battery pack called F70Q ($59), billed as a "dual portable quick charger" due to its 2-Amp and 1-Amp USB ports. While F70Q doesn't offer peak 2.4-Amp output for certain older iPads, full-speed recharging for the iPad Air, iPad mini, iPhones and iPods are supported by the battery. It's a seemingly basic accessory, but the impressive price point and performance make it a very good option relative to other batteries we've tested.

Apple launches new privacy webpage

Apple has launched a new webpage detailing the company’s commitment to privacy and security. The page contains a letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook in which he writes, “We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why.” Separate sections of the site focus on privacy in specific Apple services, tips on how to be more secure online, details on how Apple handles government information requests, and the company’s privacy policy. The company is working to alleviate any security concerns users may have in the wake of the recent iCloud celeb photo hack, especially with new iPhones launching tomorrow and Apple Pay coming in October.

Apple HealthKit not ready for prime time? (Update: Yes)

Some iOS developers have reported that Apple has been removing HealthKit compatible apps from the App Store following their rollout earlier today ahead of the public iOS 8 release due to issues with the HealthKit framework. Affected apps include titles such as Carrot Fit, MyFitnessPal, and WebMD, all of which disappeared shortly after releasing updates for the new Health features in iOS 8.

 

Another large health-releated app developer has also apparently delayed launching HealthKit integration in its apps due to delays from Apple. It is not known what the specific problem is or when these apps will reappear on the App Store. Apple also had a problem with iOS 8 extension support in apps released over the past few days, resulting in some updates needing to be re-issued earlier today, although it is unclear if the two issues are in any way related. [via 9to5Mac]

Update: Tim Bradshaw of Financial Times just tweeted a “full statement” received from Apple via e-mail, which states: “We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month.”

First-party Apple apps updated en masse for iOS 8

Simultaneously with the release of iOS 8 earlier today, Apple has updated a large collection of first-party apps to include compatibility with the latest release of iOS. Updates include AirPort Utility 1.3.4, Beats Music 2.3, Find My Friends 4.0, Find My iPhone 4.0, iTunes Movie Trailers 1.4.1, iTunes U 2.1, and Remote 4.2.1, most of which have received minor compatibility tweaks for iOS 8. Find My Friends and Find My iPhone now both add support for Family Sharing, so you can easily add both family members and their devices to the location-based search applications.

Apple notably integrated formerly separate iOS apps iBooks 4.0 and Podcasts 2.2 directly into every copy of iOS 8, and is also pre-installing the latest versions of iLife and iWork applications on higher-capacity iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices. The updated iLife and iWork applications are expected to hit the App Store any time now for existing users.






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