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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

Apple says services not affected by Heartbleed

The Heartbleed security flaw, which has affected hundreds of thousands of websites using OpenSSL, has not done the same to Apple’s services. Apple confirmed to Re/Code that its mobile, desktop, and web services were not affected. “Apple takes security very seriously. iOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable software and key Web-based services were not affected,” an Apple spokesperson said. It’s recommended that Internet users look into which sites were vulnerable to Heartbleed, then update their passwords after those sites update their security software.

Apps: Carousel, Delivery Status touch 5.1, Family Guy + RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile

Carousel by Dropbox is the new free app from Dropbox built solely to manage and provide quick access to photos and videos. All photos and videos are backed up to Dropbox. Photos and videos can also be shared instantly within private conversations. It’s notable that Carousel won’t connect with Dropbox for Business accounts — only personal accounts.

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Junecloud’s package tracking app, Delivery Status touch ($5), has updated to version 5.1. The new update introduces a wide array of new features, including improved background notifications — unnecessary notifications are gone, and updates only become more frequent when necessary. Keyboard shortcuts have been added for Bluetooth keyboards. Among other improvements are tweaks to the map, the clear passwords function, and the return of manual sorting. A bunch of bug fixes are also included in this major update.

New iPads to have Touch ID, A8?

A new research note claims the new iPad Air and Retina iPad mini to be released this year will both come with Touch ID, and an A8 processor. The note comes from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a mixed track record on new Apple products. Though the idea that Apple would include Touch ID in new iPad models is far from surprising. Kuo also believes the new iPad Air will contain an 8MP camera. Few details about new iPads have emerged this year, suggesting any updates will likely be minor. Kuo also released a product roadmap suggesting mostly second half releases of new Apple products, along with the unlikely idea that the most expensive iWatch model will cost thousands of dollars. [via MacRumors]

Facebook to pull messaging from main app

Facebook will soon be taking the messaging function out of its main mobile app, The Verge reports. The separate Facebook Messenger app will be required to chat; users who click the messages button in Facebook will be transferred to the Messenger app. Facebook is already notifying users in some European countries that the changes will be made in a few weeks. The company confirmed the functionality will be removed in every country.

There are a few exceptions to the change: users of Facebook Paper will still be able to message from within the app, and those accessing Facebook through its mobile site will still have messaging functionality.

Apple considering ‘dramatic overhaul’ of iTunes Music Store

Apple is now considering “the most dramatic overhaul of its iTunes music store in more than a decade,” Billboard reports. The internal debate has been prompted by iTunes Radio’s inability to cease the decline of music downloads. Apparently, only 1-2 percent of iTunes Radio listeners are clicking the buy button. But just how Apple plans on revamping the iTunes store is up in the air.

It’s previously been reported that Apple is considering creating an on-demand music streaming service like Spotify, and the company has looked into creating an iTunes app for Android. Apple is also reportedly pressuring labels for exclusive album releases to boost sales, though it’s likely the company is placing more focus on streaming music at this time.

Apple Human Interface VP Greg Christie leaving company

Apple Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie’s clashes with Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive have led to Christie’s imminent departure from the company, 9to5Mac reports. Ive will take control of the company’s software design group. Christie is an original iPhone designer who has led software design at the company, and he recently testified for Apple in the current patent trial against Samsung. Ive and Christie reportedly butted heads over the design of iOS 7. With the departures of Christie and former SVP of iOS Software Scott Forstall, Ive is now in position to be in control of Apple design on both the hardware and software fronts.

Update: Apple confirmed Christie’s exit to the Wall Street Journal. A company spokesman said, “Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple.”

Report: Apple mulled Square acquisition

Apple considered making an acquisition offer for Square in the past year, Re/Code reports. Google also thought about making an offer for the payment company, but Square CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly favors Apple. Dorsey believes Apple’s aesthetics and values align more closely with Square, and he was also reportedly “put off” by Google when the company engaged in acquisition talks with his prior company, Twitter. “Jack does not want to sell to Google,” a source said.

An offer around $8 billion would “get Dorsey and the board’s attention,” the report notes, though sources doubt Square could receive such an lucrative offer at the moment. Apple and Square both declined comment.

Apps: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, NBC 2.5.1, Sago Mini Monsters + Square Cash 1.3

Games based upon movies have a reputation for mediocrity, but Gameloft’s past track record with superhero movie games was solid enough that we didn’t expect Captain America: The Winter Soldier - The Official Game ($3) to stink. The movie-inspired title suffers from a variety of bad decisions, ranging from a boring overhead camera angle to confusing controls, repetitive action and an in-app purchase-heavy upgrade push, all taking away from what should have been a slam dunk companion to the well-regarded film. Captain America and a small team of AI-controlled S.H.I.E.L.D. agents walk — generally upwards from the bottom of the screen — through environments populated with groups of enemies, and you’re supposed to use an overly complex combination of virtual buttons, taps, and swipes to dispatch them. Swiping on things throws a shield at them, while tapping on them or on-screen buttons will throw punches and special attacks, including grenades, sniper rounds, and other support from the agents you choose. Too much of an emphasis is placed on managing and upgrading the team, and too little on making the levels fun rather than just a series of nearly mindless brawls with too little visual pizzazz. We’d advise skipping this one.

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NBC Universal has added a few things to its free NBC app in version 2.5.1. Most notably, the app now features Airplay Mirroring, letting users watch NBC shows on a television using Apple TV. Considering that Apple TV doesn’t have an NBC channel, most users would previously have had to sign up for Hulu Plus to watch NBC shows. The update also offers “trending clips,” which includes clips from NBC late night shows including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Saturday Night Live.

Apple, other firms could pay $9 Billion in poaching suit

A class-action lawsuit is seeking $9-Billion in lost wages from Apple and other companies for their alleged roles in preventing employees from being hired by rivals, the New York Times reports. Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe are negotiating to settle the case. Though the companies “privately scoff” at the $9-Billion amount, the employees — about 100,000 of them — contend the facts are so convincing and embarrassing that “they won’t settle for anything less than a blindingly high number.” A number of emails from Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt reveal the anti-poaching agreement between the companies, with Google seeking permission from Jobs to hire an Apple employee at one point; the offer was rescinded after Jobs objected.

The lawsuit was granted class-action status in October 2013, but the number of employees is higher than was initially reported. Each employee would be owed about $90,000 in lost wages if the $9-Billion amount is accepted.

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.

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