PopCap’s Bejeweled (free) has gone through more iterations and updates over the years than any other iOS game we can recall, and some have made fairly substantial improvements to the core match-three game. The latest update 1.7.1 adds Poker Mode, a surprisingly addictive game mode that challenges you to make five-card poker hands by sequencing same-colored match-threes. For instance, three separate matches of three yellow gems will give you three yellow gem cards, which when paired with two matches of three orange gems will create a full house. To keep playing, you need to both vary your hands — repeatedly getting just one pair of matching cards isn’t enough — and avoid the skull head on a flipped coin, which appears more often if you repeat hands and can instantly end your game. It’s a great update to the classic title, but arrives with a major bummer: an unexpected timer that limits your daily games unless you pay a $3 fee to unlock the full title.
Just released as a video download last week, Disney’s hit movie Frozen briefly arrived with a free iBooks download of the Frozen Read-Along Storybook — a page-flipping story accompanied by full narration and the voices of Frozen’s key actors. But there is another Frozen storybook option for kids: despite the similar name and theme, the Frozen: Storybook Deluxe ($7) app doesn’t overlap anywhere near as much as we’d expected with the iBook story. While some of the art is similar, the story is told differently, with rich interactive animations and video clips from the movie. Storybook Deluxe also uniquely lets a child rotate the iPhone or iPad 180 degrees to hear the Frozen story from the separate perspectives of sisters Anna and Elsa. A reverse puzzle mode challenges kids to remove correctly-shaped ice puzzle fragments from a photo, while Snow Globe and Ice Crafting modes let kids draw pictures with snow and ice tools. Young Frozen fans should consider it a must-see.
- March 4, 2014
Apple announced today that senior vice president and chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer will retire at the end of September. Oppenheimer, who has been with Apple since 1996, will be succeeded by Luca Maestri, Apple’s VP of finance and corporate controller. “Peter has served as our CFO for the past decade as Apple’s annual revenue grew from $8 billion to $171 billion and our global footprint expanded dramatically. His guidance, leadership and expertise have been instrumental to Apple’s success, not only as our CFO but also in many areas beyond finance, as he frequently took on additional activities to assist across the company. His contributions and integrity as our CFO create a new benchmark for public company CFOs,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a release.
It was just announced Monday that Oppenheimer was appointed to Goldman Sachs’ board of directors. Maestri notably participated actively in Apple’s most recent conference call with investors, and although his presence was unexplained at the time, it’s now clear that he will take on Oppenheimer’s quarterly public speaking role with analysts.
Microsoft is working on extending Xbox Live functionality to iOS games, The Verge reports. A recent job posting for a “New Devices and Gaming” software development engineer states that the company will “create a modern framework that is open source, light-weight, extensible and scalable across various platforms including Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.” According to the report, Microsoft wants to bring Xbox Live to every platform, allowing developers to incorporate Xbox Live into all games.
Apple music chief Robert Kondrk “has been pressuring major labels for releases similar to last year’s Beyonce exclusive,” according to Billboard. “Tense talks with label executives” reportedly followed Beyonce’s successful exclusive one-week debut of her self-titled album on iTunes. The album was kept off streaming services for the first week, and sold 1 million copies worldwide during that time. Apple is pitching the “windowing” method as a way to boost music download sales. Kondrk reportedly suggested to labels that new albums wouldn’t necessarily have to be iTunes exclusives, but those albums should be unavailable to streaming services for a set period of time.
A Volvo press release reveals additional details about CarPlay, which was just officially announced by Apple. It’s noted that a Wi-Fi connection will allow for the iPhone to connect to the car in the “near future”; CarPlay was initially announced as being accessible to only three iPhone models using a Lightning cable. A video of CarPlay in use can also be seen in the press release.
Volvo’s portrait screen will let users access Volvo and Apple content simultaneously, without switching between the car screen and iOS. CarPlay will debut in Volvo’s new XC90 “later in 2014.”
- March 3, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook was “visibly angry” during Friday’s shareholder meeting after a group asked Apple to stop using money on green energy projects that weren’t profitable. The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank and Apple investor, was rebuked by Cook, who said Apple did “a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive.” Addressing the NCPPR representative, Cook said, “If you want me to do things only for ROI (return on investment) reasons, you should get out of this stock.” The Apple CEO also said, “When we work on making our devices accessible to the blind, I don’t consider bloody ROI.”
A recent excerpt from the upcoming book “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs,” provides some insight into Cook’s hidden intensity. Though Cook is described as Jobs’ “polar opposite,” author Yukari Iwatani Kane writes, “To some, Cook was a machine; to others, he was riveting. He could strike terror in the hearts of his subordinates, but he could also motivate them to toil from dawn to midnight for just a word of praise.” Another paragraph notes that, “Meetings with Cook could be terrifying. He exuded a Zenlike calm and didn’t waste words.” Cook is also described as being “relentlessly frugal” and as having “inhuman” stamina, but also generous and charitable. [via The Independent, Wall Street Journal]
Apple is hiring “hundreds of new engineers and supply-chain managers in China and Taiwan” as the company pushes for “faster and more frequent product launches,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The company is hiring engineers from Taiwanese tech firms, including rival HTC. Apple reportedly needs more engineers to develop components for upcoming iPhones and iPads; the company has already added “several hundred new engineers and operations staff in China” during the past two years. According to one recruiting email obtained by the WSJ, “Apple is building an engineering team in Taipei to drive new iPhone product development.” It’s previously been reported that Apple will launch two iPhones with larger screens later this year.
Apple has announced CarPlay, the rebranded name for its iOS in the Car. CarPlay will premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show, which runs from March 6-16. Vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo will premiere CarPlay this week. According to Apple, BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota will also add CarPlay to vehicles in the future. The company calls CarPlay “the smarter, safer and more fun way to use iPhone in the car.”
CarPlay lets iPhone users make calls, use maps, listen to music, and access messages from the car’s native interface or a voice control steering wheel button that will activate Siri. Available as an update to iOS 7, CarPlay will initially work only with Lightning-enabled iPhones — the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s—though the CarPlay name appears to hint at an eventual wireless interface akin to AirPlay. The feature will be “available in select cars shipping in 2014,” with no specific models mentioned in the press release.
- March 3, 2014
Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s Chief Financial Officer, has been appointed to financial firm Goldman Sachs’ board of directors. His appointment brings the Board to 13 directors, 10 of whom are independent. Commenting on the appointment, Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEP Lloyd C. Blankfein said, “Peter’s 25 years of broad experience across important industries will add a valuable perspective to our Board of Directors. We appreciate his willingness to serve as a director and look forward to benefitting from his judgment and counsel.”
- February 28, 2014
Apple will soon charge out-of-warranty device users for online chat support, 9to5Mac reports. The charges will be collected using a new web payment system developed by Apple. It’s possible the system could launch by next week. It appears Apple will charge $20 for each incident of online tech support and troubleshooting. The report notes users will be able to request an exception for the charge, though further details about how that might happen are unknown.
God of Light ($2) is a new game from Playmous that features music from British electronica group UNKLE. A physics puzzle game, God of Light challenges players to guide a beam of light from a starting point to an end point using mirrors, while picking up crystals along the way. A few in-app purchases are offered, but they’re not pushed aggressively.
The game’s mascot, Shiny, is a cute little ball that unleashes the ray of light players need to get through the levels. Using a finger to guide the beam, players must then direct the beam to its goal using mirrors. Some mirrors can rotate, others can be moved. There are also doors to unlock in some levels, and more elements such as prisms and bending light, are introduced as the game progresses. Playmous did a great job with the learning curve, as the puzzles gradually get more challenging and multi-faceted while never feeling unfair. The controls are sensitive, but intuitive.
Speaking at Apple’s annual shareholders meeting today, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple TV made more than $1 billion of revenue in 2013. Cook has often referred to the set-top box as a “hobby,” but said today, “It’s a little more difficult to call it a hobby these days.” The news comes amid a recently announced deal on current Apple TV models that has fueled speculation regarding an upcoming Apple TV hardware update. Cook also said during the meeting that 40 billion iMessages are sent daily, along with 15 to 20 million FaceTime calls. [via Reuters]
- February 28, 2014
- Apple TV
Apple retail employees have been told that anyone who purchases an Apple TV from Apple will receive a free $25 gift card starting today and ending March 5, iLounge has confirmed. Atypical for Apple, this promotion increases the likelihood that new Apple TV hardware is on the way in the near future.
Apple typically offers such deals to clear inventory before the release of a new product, so it’s possible a new Apple TV will be on the way in March or April. [via 9to5Mac]
- February 28, 2014
Apple is planning to release a software update that would improve fingerprint recognition in the iPhone 5s Touch ID, according to AppleInsider. The update could fix the reported “fade” issue, which seemingly makes fingerprint recognition more spotty after months of using the Touch ID. A source said that Apple is aware of issues with Touch ID. It’s noted that some users have reset their fingerprints to correct the fade issue, but the problems seem to return later on. It’s unclear whether this update will be a part of iOS 7.1.
Chillingo’s Another Case Solved is a new game similar to the company’s popular Puzzle Craft. There is a detective story built into Another Case Solved, but it doesn’t have any effect on the actual gameplay, which involves matching icons by swiping to create lines in any direction. Progressing through the game allows players to upgrade their skills, and other simple puzzles are revealed. Players also have the option of changing their detective’s look and upgrading their office. Though Another Case Solved is free, options to make in-app purchases abound.
Instapaper ($4) has upgraded to version 5.1.5. The update offers integration with Instapaper Daily, a news site that features the most popular Instapaper story of the day. AirPlay integration has also been improved. Subscribers receive Send to Kindle functionality — subscriptions are also now auto-renewable.
An updated Apple security document on the company’s “iPhone in Business” site provides more information on security details regarding the iPhone’s Touch ID feature and A7 chip. The document describes the A7 chip’s Secure Enclave coprocessor, which uses encrypted memory and a hardware random number generator to securely store user credentials and communicate with the Touch ID sensors. “Each Secure Enclave is provisioned during fabrication with its own UID (Unique ID) that is not accessible to other parts of the system and is not known to Apple,” the document notes. The Secure Enclave processes fingerprint data from the Touch ID, which is encrypted in the Touch ID sensor and authenticated with the Secure Enclave using a device-specific key. Apple has also updated the document to include more info about security in other areas, such as iCloud Keychain, AirDrop, iMessage, and FaceTime. [via TechCrunch]
- February 26, 2014
- Site News
Our latest poll, What would you most like to see in a new Apple TV set-top box?, has now closed. With reports that a next-generation Apple TV could be adding game support, we wanted to know what our readers would most like to see in the next Apple set-top box.
The majority of responses were for more content channels or a full App Store for the Apple TV, almost tied at thirty-two percent for each. Of the remaining responses, eight percent indicated they were waiting for a full Apple TV set, while another eight percent expressed no interest in the Apple TV at all. Seven percent of respondents suggested on-board storage would be the best option for the new device, with only five percent of responses indicating an interest in seeing built-in games come to the Apple TV. Five percent suggested they were looking for a new design, while four percent indicated they are actually perfectly happy with the Apple TV just the way it is.
- February 26, 2014
Apple has released iTunes 11.1.5. The update “fixes a problem that may cause iTunes to quit unexpectedly when a device is connected.” Compatibility with iBooks for Mac on OS X Mavericks is also improved in the update, which is available in the Mac App Store and on the iTunes website.
- February 26, 2014
As expected, Apple has filed an appeal disputing a July ruling that the company conspired to raise e-book prices. Apple told a federal appeals court the ruling “is a radical departure” from modern antitrust law, and warned it would “chill competition and harm consumers,” the Associated Press reports. The company seeks to either overturn the ruling, or be granted a new trial with a different judge. Apple was recently given a brief reprieve from an antitrust monitor assigned to watch over the company; a court ruled soon after that appointed monitor Michael Bromwich could remain on duty.
- February 25, 2014
Apple has released an iBeacon specification through its MFi program, as noted by Beekn. If manufacturers meet certain established criteria, they will be able to brand their devices with the iBeacon name. In addition to bearing the name, official iBeacons will broadcast Bluetooth LE to Apple’s standards. Applying to the program is free. Though the specification will give Apple more control over the iBeacon name, it’s notable that there are no restrictions which would make an iBeacon incompatible with other phones, such as Android phones.