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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

Former Amazon A9 search VP now at Apple

Former Vice President of Amazon’s A9 Search Technology group, Benoit Dupin, has taken a job with Apple. Dupin’s LinkedIn page has been updated to note he is a “Director” at Apple. He will work on search for Maps, the iTunes Store, and the App Store, 9to5Mac reports. Apple has been pushing to improve search functionality, and the company has been testing a ‘related’ search feature in the App Store.

Adobe debuts Lightroom mobile for iPad

Adobe has officially introduced Lightroom mobile for iPad, a subscription-required tablet version of its photo editing and management software. Lightroom mobile lets users enhance smartphone photos and RAW images from DSLR cameras, as the new app can handle “virtually any image format.” The new app will also be coming to iPhone “within the next year.”

Lightroom mobile syncs seamlessly with Adobe’s Lightroom 5 on the desktop — in fact, Lightroom 5 is required to use Lightroom mobile. A Creative Cloud service membership is also required to use the app, with the least expensive option at $10 per month.

More Schiller emails reveal Apple ad turmoil

A recent report illustrated how Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller was bothered by Samsung’s marketing campaign targeting Apple, and newly released January 2013 emails show the back-and-forth between Schiller and Apple ad agency TBWA/Media Arts Lab. These emails, posted by Business Insider, follow Schiller’s email to the agency noting that Apple had “a lot of work to do” in response to an article titled “Has Apple lost its cool to Samsung?” The agency responded at length with thoughts on how to fix the “chilling negative narrative,” including needing more freedom — even comparing the situation to Apple’s predicament in 1997, as well as suggesting than the company hold an emergency executive meeting akin to one Steve Jobs held during Antennagate. Schiller was “shocked” by the response, writing that Apple placed no limits on the agency, and take the agency to task for its 1997 comparison.

“This is not 1997,” Schiller wrote. “Nothing like it in any way. In 1997 Apple had no products to market. We had a company making so little money that we were 6 months from out of business.” The agency apologized via email. In another email days later, Schiller wrote that while iPad advertising improved, iPhone advertising was “not good,” especially compared to a recent Samsung ad at the time.

iOS 8: Healthbook as aggregator, faster camera speed

Apple’s planned Healthbook app in iOS 8 is described as “an application that aggregates health and fitness data from various applications and hardware accessories” in a new 9to5Mac article. The feature, which mainly summarizes much of what’s already been reported about iOS 8, alludes to Healthbook being a sort of base app for other possible health-related applications. Additionally, the article notes Apple is working to speed up the time required to take a photo with the new iPhone’s hardware components, and pushing to further improve overall speed in iOS 8.

Apple internal slides reveal need for larger, cheaper phones

Internal Apple slides revealed by Samsung in the latest patent battle between the companies illustrate Apple’s need to create larger and cheaper smartphones. The slides from an April 2013 meeting, posted by Re/Code, show that while the iPhone growth rate is slowing, there’s still demand and growth for cheaper and larger phones.

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One slide, titled “Consumers want what we don’t have,” shows all of the market growth coming from smartphones either priced at $300 or cheaper, or phones more expensive than $300 with a screen larger than 4”. Apple is rumored to be developing two new iPhones with displays larger than 4.7”.

Update: The same Re/Code article contains internal Samsung documents showing the company regarded Apple’s iPhone as its top rival. One slide noted that “everything must be in context of beating Apple,” and the “threat from Apple is extremely real and urgent.”

iLounge Game Spotlight: FTL: Faster Than Light

Although it’s not a brand-new game, FTL: Faster Than Light ($10) has just been released for iPad by Subset Games. The winner of several awards and accolades, FTL is a space-based RPG that encourages quick thinking, and punishes failure. It’s the kind of game that allows players to get further and further as they put more time into it.

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Once installed, FTL encourages going through a five-minute tutorial, which is a smart idea. With controls and information spread all along the top and bottom borders of the screen, this walkthrough does a good job of explaining what’s where, and how to play the game. Your task is to control a spaceship, viewed from a top-down perspective set against the expanse of space; this is the main action screen. You must hop from location to location, avoiding the rebels that are tailing you.

Apple’s PRODUCT (RED) contributions at $70 million

According to a tweet from the PRODUCT (RED) campaign, Apple has raised $70 million for the charity. Apple sells special red-colored iPod nanos, shuffles, and touches, and certain accessories, with a portion of the proceeds going to fight AIDS in Africa. The partnership stretches back to 2006, when Apple introduced its first PRODUCT (RED) iPod nano.

Nest Protect subject to safety issue, sales halted

Nest Labs CEO Tony Fadell has issued a public letter informing customers that Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Detector’s (iLounge Rating: B-) alarm may be delayed in the case of a fire under the right circumstances. This issue is related to Nest Wave, a feature that allows the alarm to be turned off with a wave of the hand, and has been discovered in laboratory testing only; no issues have been reported from customers.

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Nest is offering an over-the-air update that disables Nest Wave, while leaving the smoke and carbon monoxide capabilities in place. For those that don’t have access to Wi-Fi for the update, full refunds are being offered. Until the issue has been resolved, Nest will not be selling Nest Protect.

Apps: AmpliTube Orange, Fantastical 2, IFTTT 2.0 + Monument Valley

IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube Orange ($15) is a new version of the studio recording app, featuring the look and sound of the legendary Orange amplifiers. Like the standard AmpliTube app, AmpliTube Orange is a guitar/bass multi-FX processor and recording studio that connects a guitar to an iOS device using various IK Multimedia products. But IK says the new app was “developed with careful guidance from the tone gurus at Orange to ensure the authenticity of the sound.” The app lets users pick from six amp models and three stompbox models. Users of the original AmpliTube app can get Orange gear models through in-app purchase.

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Flexibits’ popular Fantastical 2 calendar app has launched for iPad with Fantastical 2 for iPad ($15). Fantastical 2 features a dashboard with multiple views, background app updates, and TextExpander support, in addition to plenty of other features. Users can set dates, times and geofences on reminders. Notably, Fantastical 2 supports other calendar services, including Apple’s built-in Calendar app. The app even offers dictation for making events; dictation isn’t supported on iPad 2, however. Fantastical 2 for iPad is currently on sale for $10.

Apple acquires speech recognition company Novauris

Apple has acquired automatic speech recognition company Novauris Technologies, TechCrunch reports. The acquisition reportedly occurred in 2013, and the Novauris team was already working on Siri as of last fall. Last year, it was reported that a formerly unknown “small team of notable names in speech technology” was working on Siri.

The founders of Novauris were “key members” at Dragon Systems, the company known for voice recognition software including Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Dragon Dictation. Novauris was developing patented automatic speech recognition technology with a large vocabulary that could access information stored locally or remotely. The terms of the deal are unknown.

Apple, others form patent lobbying group

Apple and a number of other large companies have created a new lobbying group dedicated to fighting proposed changes to the patent system, Reuters reports. The group — which also includes DuPont, Ford, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, and Pfizer — calls itself the Partnership for American Innovation. Pending legislation aimed at patent assertion entities may have an adverse effect on innovative companies, the group argues. The Partnership for American Innovation opposes all legislative efforts intended on making software or biotechnology unable to be patented.

Apple announces WWDC for June 2-6

In a press release this morning, Apple announced the dates of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The event will run June 2 through June 6 at Moscone West in San Francisco.

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This year, tickets will be available via a lottery system, rather than on a first-come, first-serve basis as they have been in the past. WWDC is a conference designed for developers with technical sessions and Apple engineers on-hand. New software is traditionally shown, and iOS 8 will likely be previewed at the keynote presentation.

Amazon launches Amazon Fire TV

At a media event today, Amazon introduced Amazon Fire TV ($99), a streaming box designed to compete with Apple TV. Citing search, laggy performance, and closed ecosystems as issues with similar products on the market, Amazon’s Peter Larsen says the company sought to address those issues.

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The box has a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi for fast downloads. Larsen claims it’s three times as fast as Apple TV and other boxes. Many apps are supported, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and of course, Amazon Prime. The included remote control supports voice search with a built-in microphone. fireTV also supports games with the physical remote, an upcoming app, or the Fire game controller ($40). It’ll begin shipping today.

Samsung: Edgy ads drove Apple ‘crazy’

Samsung claims its “Next Big Thing” advertising campaign bothered Apple, as shown by internal Apple documents, The Verge reports. “This new, edgy marketing strategy ... it drove Apple crazy,” Samsung lawyer John Quinn noted during the latest patent trial involving the two companies. Quinn said the ad campaign, which poked fun at Apple customers, really got to Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, who became “obsessed” with the campaign. Schiller even suggested to CEO Tim Cook that Apple should switch to a different ad agency. An internal email from Schiller to his team noted a Wall Street Journal story titled, “Has Apple lost its cool to Samsung?” Schiller’s one line of text said, “We have a lot of work to do to turn this around.”

iWork for iCloud apps add shared view-only docs, other features

Apple has updated its iWork apps — Pages, Keynote, and Numbers — at iCloud.com. The updates include new designs for the web apps, Retina display support, and the ability to share view-only documents, among other features.

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Apple has said compatible updates for iOS will arrive later today. It’s notable that the updates come less than a week after Microsoft launched Office for iPad. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple opens up iAd Workbench to all

Apple is making its iAd Workbench advertising system available to anyone with an Apple ID starting today, Advertising Age reports. Workbench was previously available only to registered mobile developers. Customers can now add short videos to an ad unit with Workbench, which works exclusively for ads on iOS devices. The viewers of ads can also now be taken to promoted iTunes content, or a separate website, instead of only being directed to an app. According to the report, “Apple imagines the iAd expansion will draw in new types of advertisers ... unwilling to take the earlier developer plunge.” Apple also anticipates other major companies getting involved with the program.

Report: Apple may acquire display chipmaker

Apple is in discussions to acquire a division of Japan’s Renesas Electronics that develops chips for smartphone displays, Nikkei Asian Review reports. The division in question, Renesas SP Drivers, is “the world’s leading producer of drivers and controllers for small and midsize LCDs.” These chips are said to “determine a display’s quality and performance,” in addition to affecting the overall energy efficiency of a device. Renesas SP is a joint venture between Renesas, Sharp, and Powerchip.

Apple is reportedly seeking Renesas’ 55 percent stake for an estimated $479 million. All of Apple’s iPhone liquid crystal display chips already come from Renesas SP; the acquisition would give Apple greater control of how the chips fit into its product designs. The report claims Apple hopes to complete the acquisition by summer, with about 240 current employees staying with the unit.

Apps: Comedy Central, Endless Numbers, Shazam 7.5 + Tabular Mobile

Comedy Central has released an all new free app. The app features full episodes available the day after airing — generally provided that you sign in with a television provider. There are, however, a number of shows which don’t require a sign-in. Some of the network’s most popular programs, including The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, South Park, and @midnight, are all available for free viewing. The Comedy Central app also includes some archived shows and stand-up specials.

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Following Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader, leading childrens’ app developer Originator has debuted Endless Numbers (Free*), and it’s even better than its predecessors — something that we wouldn’t have thought possible. While the focus is seemingly on a specific number your child selects, the app uses each number as a chance to teach sequences, rather than just matching one number to its outline. You pick a number from a ferris wheel filled with different characters, then do several activities for each number. Pick 5 and the numbers 1 through 5 need to be matched on screen, followed by matching the numbers to a simple addition problem, then by interacting with an animated character or set of characters representing the number. As was the case with the past titles, the animation and audio are both fantastic enough that it’s hard to object to the $4 in-app asking price for numbers 6-25; 1-5 are included in the initial free download.

Apple granted patent for camera lens mount

A new Apple patent for bayonet attachment mechanisms may signal the company’s interest in using an attachable camera lens system in its iOS devices. The patent describes a system that would use a bayonet mount integrated into the camera of an electronic device — lenses could be swapped in and out of the mount.

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Patently Apple notes how quickly the patent was approved — the patent application was only published weeks ago — speculating that Apple may be looking to use the feature in the near future. An alleged leaked picture of the iPhone 6 shows the device with a protruding camera lens, but it’s unclear if any sort of mount system is included. Images in the patent document depict the fifth-generation iPod touch. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Q2 earnings call set for April 23

Apple has announced on its investor webpage that it will release its Q2 fiscal year earnings on Wednesday, April 23. As usual, the earnings will be released in a conference call starting at 5 p.m. ET. The company provided guidance of Q2 revenue between $42 billion and $44 billion in its Q1 revenue report.

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