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First Look: IK Multimedia iRig Mic Field

IK Multimedia's new iRig Mic Field ($100) is a stereo audio/video field microphone that plugs directly into the Lightning port of an iOS device. Though it looks a lot like IK's previous iRig Mic Cast, that accessory was designed specifically for voice recordings. iRig Mic Field can handle stereo-quality audio or video recordings, including field and music recordings. The pocket-sized microphone can rotate 90 degrees for easy recording in portrait or landscape mode. We'll have a full review in the near future.

Tim Cook announces $20M raised for (PRODUCT)RED in internal e-mail

Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent out an e-mail to employees announcing that Apple has raised $20 million this quarter for (PRODUCT)RED, iClarified reports, with Apple’s Holiday (PRODUCT)RED campaign likely contributing the lion’s share of the fundraising, which goes to support the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.

I’m thrilled to announce that our total donation for this quarter will be more than $20 million — our biggest ever — bringing the total amount Apple has raised for (PRODUCT) RED to over $100 million. The money we’ve raised is saving lives and bringing hope to people in need. It’s a cause we can all be proud to support.”

Apple has long been a supporter of the (PRODUCT)RED campaign, beginning with the debut of the iPod nano (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition in 2006, although this year’s World AIDS Day 2014 campaign was the largest the company has undertaken, and the first time App Store content has been included.

Mac: MacPhun Snapselect

One of the mixed blessings about digital photography is that without dealing with the costs of film and development, it’s really almost too easy to collect a huge amount of photos. If you’ve been in the digital photography game for more than a couple of years, chances are that unless you’re meticulously organized, you’ve got folders full of photos that have just been transferred onto your computer and left for later because it just takes too much time to sort and organize everything. MacPhun’s Snapselect ($15) is a new app designed to help you clean up that mess, and take much of the headache out of getting your photos into some semblance of order.

Apple announces 64-bit and iOS 8 requirements for app updates

Apple will begin requiring app updates submitted to the App Store after June 1, 2015 to include 64-bit support and be built with the iOS 8 SDK, as outlined in an e-mail sent out today to registered iOS Developers. As the e-mail noted, Apple had previously announced this requirement back in October for new iOS apps, scheduled to take effect February 1, 2015. However, this note indicates that Apple will also be applying this policy to updates to existing apps. This only affects updates submitted by developers, however, and since developers are not required to submit updates, apps built with the older SDK can likely remain available on the App Store in their present form until they otherwise need to be updated.

Apple ordered to turn over records in Canadian iPhone antitrust probe

A Canadian Federal Court has ordered Apple Canada to turn over documents to the Government’s Competition Bureau as part of an investigation into possible unfair marketing practices by the company, Reuters reports. The Competition Bureau, which is responsible for enforcing various competition and marketing acts on behalf of the Canadian Government, stated in a filing to the court that it believes Apple unfairly used its bargaining power from the popularity of the iPhone to negotiate contracts with wireless carriers that encouraged them to overprice rival phones, thereby reducing competition for the iPhone. Among other things, the Bureau is investigating whether the terms of their contracts with Apple may have discouraged carriers from reducing competing handset prices or encouraged them to charge higher prices for wireless services than they may otherwise have done.

Federal Court Chief Justice Paul Crampton stated that he would sign the disclosure order later on Wednesday, at which point Apple will have 90 days to turn over the documents to the Competition Bureau, including all of the agreements that it has with Canadian mobile carriers. In response, Apple’s lawyers have suggested that the company is considering launching a constitutional challenge to determine whether Canadian courts actually have the jurisdiction to force Apple’s wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary to turn over documents that are held by the California-based parent company. The Competition Act provides Canadian courts with this power, however, and both the lawyer for the Competition Bureau and Chief Justice Crampton have stated that these provisions have never been found to be unconstitutional, and that there is increasing consensus in the worldwide legal community that such provisions are legitimate.

Apps: Carousel, Fleksy, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, Workflow, Shazam, SimCity BuildIt

Carousel (free) — We were intrigued by Dropbox’s photo gallery app when it first debuted last spring, finding it an interesting spin on photo management for users who preferred to keep and sync everything in file-based cloud storage. While the first cut of the app was fairly basic, a series of updates have brought it into its own as a viable alternative to Apple’s own iCloud Photo Library. Carousel 1.8 takes some big strides in this direction, adding support for organizing photos into albums that can be shared and viewed via Dropbox.com, a new “Flashback” feature that highlights photos from years gone by, and a “Free Up Space” feature that lets you easily remove photos from your Camera Roll that have been backed up to Dropbox when you’re running low on storage space on your iPhone. The app also gets some UI design changes, with the Time Wheel scroller now sliding in from the right-hand side rather than being ever-present at the bottom of the gallery view.

Fleksy Keyboard ($1) — With the addition of long-awaited support for custom keyboards in iOS 8 has come a plethora of options all competing to be the keyboard of choice on users’ iPhones and other iOS devices. Fleksy has remained one of the leading options, morphing from a standalone app into a system-wide keyboard, and then aggressively adding new features. Version 5.0 adds a whole new dimension to Fleksy with support for even further customization through extensions and cool new themes. Extensions now provide users with “plug-in” features such as GIF keyboard support, an extra numbers row, one-handed mode, and much more, allowing users to build Fleksy to their own needs without adding needless bloat to the app. A whole new set of theme packs are also available, including branded options, and are now packaged into individual groupings that can be bought via in-app-purchases for between $1 and $3.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout ($4) — A major Christmas update to the fifth installment in the classic FPS series for iOS devices gets you into the holiday spirit with holiday jingles, seasonal masks, blizzard effects, and Christmas decorations throughout. At the core, the update also adds new multiplayer features on the two classic Scramble and Overtime Modern Combat maps, Squad Battle rematches, and multiplayer leagues. New class skills have been added for supporting nearby allies, and the level cap has been increased to 120. Additional new content has been added in the form of masks, kill signs, and weapons, and a new iOS 8 Today Extension lets you check your status and rank right from the iOS Notification Center.

Daily Deal: The Apple Watch Giveaway

In today’s iLounge Deal we’re giving away an Apple Watch! One lucky entrant will receive a regular edition Apple Watch when the product is released early next year. To enter, simply submit your e-mail address on the giveaway page to sign up for our iLounge Deals, and you can even gain additional entries by sharing on Twitter and Facebook – the more your friends and followers enter, the more entries you receive. The winner will be chosen in a random drawing on Februrary 17, 2015. Good luck!

Enter Now for your chance to win an Apple Watch

Apple halts online sales in Russia

Apple has ceased sales on its online stores in Russia due to “extreme” fluctuations in the ruble, Bloomberg reports. A spokesperson for Apple stated that the Russian online store is “currently unavailable while we review pricing.” With Russia’s currency varying wildly in recent weeks, Apple has already been working to deal with the changes, with the company increasing the price of the iPhone 6 by 25 percent in that country.

Review: STM Dux for iPhone 6

We've reviewed Dux ($30) before as an iPad case, but STM has now released a version of the case for iPhone 6. Dux features rubberized edges and a clear polycarbonate back to show off the iPhone. There's coverage for the sleep/wake button and volume controls, and a small loop on the lower right corner of the case allows for a lanyard attachment. The case comes in red or black.

Apple found not guilty in iPod, iTunes Store lock-in suit

Apple has been cleared of wrongdoing in the recent antitrust case on iPod and iTunes Store lock-in, The Verge reports. The decade-old class-action lawsuit accused Apple of putting procedures in place in iTunes 7.0 that would remove music found on iPods from competing music services. Apple, for its part, claimed that the measures were simply “extra security” that the company added to its iPod and iTunes platforms in 2006. The lawsuit originally asked for damaged of more than $350 million to be distributed across 8 million consumers who bought affected iPod models between September 2006 and March 2009. Had Apple been found guilty of violating antitrust laws, however, the company could have potentially been liable for damages of more than $1 billion.

In a unanimous decision today, the eight-person jury in the trial rules that iTunes 7.0 was a “genuine product improvement” that was good for consumers, rather than a deliberate attempt by Apple to thwart competition by limiting purchased music to only Apple’s platform, as plaintiffs in the case had tried to argue. During the trial, Apple had repeatedly compared its iTunes and iPod ecosystem to integrated systems such as video game consoles, stating that it had simply built all of the pieces to work together. Further, the company’s lawyers noted that the DRM that ultimately locked out competitors was a necessary requirement of Apple’s deals with the major record companies, and that Apple was contractually obligated under the terms of those deals to patch any security holes that could have led to piracy of purchased content.






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