The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.
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Halo: Spartan Strike ($6) + Halo: Spartan Assault ($6) — Microsoft has been putting a lot of effort into the iOS platform lately with significant updates to its Office suite of apps and the introduction of an entire family of MSN lifestyle apps, so it was probably inevitable that we’d eventually see the company enter the gaming side of things. This week, Microsoft released two of its Halo spinoffs, the original Halo: Spartan Assault, and the new Halo: Spartan Strike. Set in the Halo universe, both games have players taking on the role of a Spartan across 30 missions against the Covenant. Spartan Assault takes place just before the events of Halo 4, and lets players explore the background of the Spartan Ops program, while the second game is more of a prequel set in the Halo 2 universe. Both games let players use a wide variety of weapons, vehicles, and armor abilities to customize their Spartan, and the UI in both is well-optimized for the iPhone touchscreen, with the left thumb used for directional control and the right used for a variety of weapon actions from charging plasma rifles to firing assault rifles to lobbing grenades. The games are $6 individually, but you can pick up both in a Halo: Spartan Bundle for $10.
Cut! (free) — This game tests your movie trivia knowledge with hundreds of clips and thousands of contextual questions that range from actors, directors and titles to identifying arcane points in key scenes. Players watch short clips that show classic movie moments and then go head-to-head either against friends or random opponents to answer questions about the film — sometime from the displayed scene, sometimes more general questions. Players can choose questions from a multitude of categories such as Awarded Movies, Dancing Scenes, Marvel Superheroes, Bad Guys, Monsters, and more, and each clip can present any one of dozens of questions, making the game eminently replayable.
Sago Mini Toolbox ($3) — The latest addition to the Sago series, Mini Toolbox lets young kids strap on their tool belts and play with a whole plethora of virtual on-screen tools to complete a variety of tasks. Cut fabric, hammer in nails, drill holes in a 2x4, turn a wrench to screw in a bolt, and more. The game includes the usual cute animations and sounds we’ve come to expect from the Sago Mini app collections, inspiring young builders and makers to work at projects alongside their Sago Mini friends.
Glass x Silicone Protector for iPhone 6
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Sometimes when you’re looking at a recent email it can be handy to be able to quickly refer back to earlier messages in the same conversation. While the “Organize by Thread” option (found in Settings under Mail, Contacts, Calendars) can be helpful if all of your messages are in the same folder, this is often not the case, particularly when it also involves messages you’ve sent, since these usually remain in the “Sent” folder for most users.
Fortunately, iOS 8 has a handy little feature that can be used to search out your Sent Messages and include them in the conversation thread. If you swipe right-to-left on an email message you’ve replied to (or an email that’s a reply to one of yours) and tap the “More” button, you’ll see a “Show Related Messages” button that appears with the rest of the additional options. Tap on this, and Mail will provide you with a conversation view of your correspondence with that person and anybody else in the thread. As an added bonus, it even notes which messages were replies or forwards, and who they were forwarded to. …
Apple is currently in negotiations with Canada’s six major banks about a potential November Apple Pay launch, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. This would mark the beginning of the expansion of the service outside of the U.S., and would be expected to enable mobile payments for both iPhone and Apple Watch users, for both credit and debit cards, according to people familiar with the matter. The banks are reportedly open to an agreement, but are balking at Apple’s current fee proposals and are wary about the security vulnerabilities that U.S. banks experienced when the service was initially rolled out last year. The six major Canadian banks – RBC, TD Canada Trust, ScotiaBank, BMO, CIBC and National Bank of Canada — together account for more than 90 percent of retail bank accounts.
Most of these banks also comprise the primary stakeholders in the Interac Association — the organization responsible for debit cards and inter-bank transaction systems in Canada. Notably, since VISA and MasterCard only provide credit card services in Canada, a Canadian Apple Pay launch would need to expand to include support for Interac Flash contactless payment standards in order to be a viable debit card solution. The banks have reportedly formed a consortium in their dealings with Apple and hired a consultancy to “help develop a security protocol for Apple Pay.” Some of the report’s sources note that the Canadian banks may require Apple Pay to incorporate a “secondary authentication” system in addition to Touch ID, perhaps requiring customers to verify their cards with a PIN or log on to a mobile banking app before cards could be used with Apple Pay. The report was unclear, however, whether this would be a per-transaction point-of-sale authentication requirement, or whether it would simply provide extra security for initially adding a card into the Apple Pay system. Contactless payment card systems are already in very widespread use within Canada, so any implementation of Apple Pay would need to provide at least as seamless an experience as using a plastic card to be practical for consumers.
Soen Audio has released Transit XS ($130), a smaller version of its Transit speaker, which we reviewed in 2013. Transit XS is a pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker — just slightly longer than an iPhone 6 Plus. The back of the speaker has a mount connector, which should attach to most camera mounts, as well as Soen's included mounting clip. An audio cable and micro-USB cable are also included with the speaker, which comes in black, white, red, purple, or blue.
Today in iLounge Deals you can grab a pair of Wireless Feather Buds Bluetooth earphones for only $24.99—60% off the normal price. A perfect mix of comfort, convenience, and high-quality sound, these bluetooth headphones are packed with great features. The noise-cancelling outer shell isolates the sounds you want to hear, and the lightweight and tangle-free design allows you to use and wear the earbuds comfortably. Bluetooth support provides a wireless range of up to 30 feet, with a built-in microphone and remote to allow you to easily answer phone calls while on the go.
Apple has “sharply declined” in cooperating with its court-appointed antitrust monitor, Reuters reports. Michael Bromwich was appointed to monitor Apple’s antitrust compliance policies after the company was found liable in conspiring to raise e-book prices. Bromwich reported this week that Apple has been objecting to providing information and is “inappropriately” attempting to limit his activities. Although Bromwich has had a strained relationship with Apple throughout the process, he reported to the court last fall that relations with the company had improved. His latest report, however, accuses Apple of taking a more “adversarial tone” in discussions, and in fact rejecting recent requests for interviews. Bromwich notes that despite this, he has interviewed Apple’s entire board and executive team, and credits the company with making progress in developing a “comprehensive and effective” compliance program.
While Apple’s appeal to the original e-book antitrust case remains ongoing, the company also filed a separate appeal earlier this year aiming to disqualify Bromwich, accusing the monitor of having been “overly aggressive” in seeking interviews with executives and holding private discussions with the Justice Department, as well as objecting to Bromwich’s fees.
Leaked cases revealed by Sonny Dickson may provide some details on the design of the alleged larger “iPad Pro” currently under development at Apple. Examining cases that claim to be for the new device, the report speculates that the new device will resemble the current iPads, but include stereo speakers located on both the bottom and the top of the device. The case design also suggests that components such as iSight camera and Touch ID button remain in their expected positions. The case design would also seem to confirm earlier rumors that the new tablet may be equipped with multiple ports, although it remains unclear whether both of these will be Lightning ports, USB-C ports, or a combination of both. Possible measurements for the iPad Pro can also be discerned from the cases; assuming that these cases accurately reflect Apple’s specifications for the new device, they show that the iPad Pro may be slightly thicker than the iPad Air, at 7mm.
For today’s iLounge Deal, we’re offering the MiFi 2 Unlocked Global Hotspot for only $99 – 50% off the normal price. Providing 4G Wi-Fi Internet access for up to 10 devices, this little devices lets you bring the Internet anywhere, staying connected securely and reliably without having to suffer the vagaries of coffee shop Wi-Fi. This global hotspot works in over 150 countries, and it’s unlocked so you can choose your own carrier wherever you happen to go. VPN pass-through and Wi-Fi protected setup provide additional security, and you can easily check data usage, block unrecognized devices, and view battery life and signal strength right from the touchscreen. In addition to 16 hours of battery life, you can also share files and GPS data, with instant access from your devices to up to 32GB of data on a microSD card.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is looking to recover millions of dollars from Apple following the failure of an iPad-based curriculum program, the Los Angeles Times reports. Developed by Pearson, an educational consulting firm working as a sub-contractor to Apple, the $1.3-billion program was intended to provide iPads to every student, teacher, and school administrator. The devices began rolling out in the fall of 2013, however, the plan got off to a rocky start with declining political support, rising costs, and the resignation of the Superintendent who had spearheaded the initiative. Claims were later made that Apple and Pearson may have had an unfair advantage in the bidding process, leading to an FBI criminal investigation that remains in progress. The district suspended its contract with Apple last August.
Earlier this week, the Board of Education for the district held a closed-door meeting with its attorneys, authorizing them to look into possible litigation against both Apple and Pearson. According to district general counsel David Holmquist, new Superintendent Ramon Cortines “made the decision that he wanted to put them on notice, Pearson in particular, that he’s dissatisfied with their product.” Holmquist sent a letter to Apple on Monday making it clear that the district will no longer accept or pay for new deliveries of the curriculum and related equipment, or any services related to the project.
Update: The federal Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an informal inquiry into the project regarding the legal use of bond funds, the Los Angeles Times reports.