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iLounge Game Spotlight: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril

Harry Potter. Star Wars. Lord of the Rings. LEGO has firmly established a successful pattern of obtaining the rights to popular properties, building toys out of them, and then turning them into truly fun games. Its latest title, produced by Warner Bros., is no different. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril ($5) is exactly what we’d expect from the collaboration, and that’s a good thing.

The game starts with — and is full of — fully-animated, voice-acted, cut scenes featuring characters from across the Marvel universe. Starting with Iron Man and the Hulk, you’re thrown into a beautifully rendered 3D world viewed from a three-quarter angle. As in the other LEGO games, you’re presented with a choice of controls. You can either tap around the screen to move and attack, or use a virtual joystick and action buttons; MFi controller support isn’t listed for this one. And then, in the famous words of one of your playable characters, Hulk smash!

WSJ: iWatch to come in multiple designs, have 10+ sensors

A new report from the Wall Street Journal claims Apple’s iWatch will likely be available in multiple screen sizes. Also according to sources, “The new wrist device from Apple will include more than 10 sensors including ones to track health and fitness.” Additional reporting from Chinese website Laoyaoba states that some of these sensors will monitor heart rate, blood glucose, and blood pressure, and that Apple is awaiting FDA approval on the device. By the end of the year, shipments of the unannounced product are expected to total between 10 million and 15 million.  A Thursday report only claimed the iWatch would feature a 2.5” slightly rectangular display, wireless charging, and a pulse sensor.

Report: Apple exploring changes to AppleCare+, customer support

Apple is considering a number of customer support tweaks including changes to AppleCare+, 9to5Mac reports. The company is considering making AppleCare+ available for 60 days after purchasing a supported device, rather than the current 30 days. AppleCare+ may also be pushed as a subscription service, which has been reported in the past. The report also claims that this fall, Apple will let technicians share iOS screens with users in order to diagnose or fix problems with a device, similar to the support currently offered to Mac users. Apple may also introduce diagnostic tools to help users solve minor issues with Apple IDs, iTunes, and iCloud on their own.

Report: iWatch to feature 2.5” screen, wireless charging, pulse sensor

Taiwan’s Quanta Computer will start mass producing Apple’s iWatch next month, and the device will reportedly feature a 2.5” “slightly rectangular” display, touch interface, wireless charging capabilities, and a sensor that monitors a user’s pulse, according to Reuters. The report claims that “the watch face will protrude slightly from the band, creating an arched shape.” A previous report noted the device would have a curved OLED touchscreen. Reuters notes that LG Display, which is already capable of producing curved OLED screens, will be the exclusive initial supplier for the watch’s screen. Corroborating past reports, Reuters claims the iWatch launch could occur “as early as October.” Apple declined comment.

Apps: Asphalt 8 1.4, Delectable 4.0, Godfire + Star Wars Scene Maker

Gameloft’s newest update to Asphalt 8: Airborne (free) adds a number of new cars to the racing game, among a few other new features. Version 1.4 offers players the chance to drive the Chrysler ME 412, Ferrari FF, Ford 2006 GT, Hennessey Venom GT, Mercedes Benz CLK GTR AMG, Mercedes SLS AMG, and the 2015 Ford Mustang. A new booster has also been added to the game for novice players who are battling veterans, and completing a car collection now gives players a reward, as well.

Delectable has updated its free Delectable — Wine Scanner & Journal app to version 4.0. The app’s label recognition feature is now faster and better than ever— take a picture of a wine label from within the app, and the app will offer up a variety of facts and reviews on the bottle of your choice within seconds. Also included in the update are a brand new wine ratings system, and a new interface.

Apple’s Activation Lock said to cause drop in iPhone theft

Police officers in New York, London, and San Francisco claim they’re seeing a drop in smartphone theft, and Apple’s Activation Lock may be the reason, The New York Times reports. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón both believe the Apple “kill switch” is leading to the drop, as police officers in San Francisco and London said iPhone robberies have decreased in their cities by 38 percent and 24 percent, respectively, since Apple released the feature. New York police have also noted a drop in Apple product theft when comparing the first five months of 2014 to the same period in 2013.

Apple’s Activation Lock requires an Apple ID and password before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone, sign out of iCloud, or erase and reactivate a device. Bloomberg reports that Google and Microsoft will soon follow Apple by incorporating a “kill switch” feature into their new operating systems.

T-Mobile intros Test Drive program with iPhone 5s

T-Mobile has introduced Test Drive, a new program that lets prospective users try out the T-Mobile network for free while using an iPhone 5s. Upon signing up for the program, T-Mobile will send you an iPhone 5s, which can be used for free for seven days to make unlimited calls, texts, downloads, and so forth. After that time, the phone must be returned in good condition to a T-Mobile retail store. The iPhone 5s must be ordered online — it will be delivered by mail and must be signed for by someone 18 or older.

T-Mobile has also announced its Music Freedom plan, which now lets users stream music from any selected streaming service, including iTunes Radio, without counting toward a 4G LTE data allotment. It’s included for free with any Simple Choice rate plan. Additionally, T-Mobile will launch its own streaming service on June 22 — Rhapsody unRadio, an app which offers unlimited streaming with no skip limits and no ads. It’s included with the carrier’s newest Unlimited 4G LTE plans and costs $4 a month for users with other plans.

Adobe intros Ink and Slide iPad accessories, new apps

Adobe officially introduced its Ink and Slide accessories for iPad today — the accessories were previously announced as the Project Mighty cloud pen and Napoleon ruler. Ink is a three-sided aluminum stylus that uses Adonit’s Pixelpoint technology, which was also seen in today’s earlier announcement of the considerably less expensive Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint. Adobe Slide is a digital ruler for precision sketching on iPad. The Ink and Slide accessories come together in a $200 package, and the set should be available today.

In addition to Ink and Slide, Adobe also introduced two new apps today — Adobe Lightroom for iPhone and Adobe Photoshop Mix for iPad. The former is an iPhone version of Adobe’s photo editing and organization program, and requires both Lightroom 5 and a Creative Cloud plan. Photoshop Mix is a new mobile editing program based on Adobe’s popular Photoshop. Both apps are free to download.

Report: iPhone 6 may include barometer, air pressure sensors

Apple’s iPhone 6 could contain a barometer and air pressure sensors, according to 9to5Mac. The report claims that new references within Xcode 6 and iOS 8 are dedicated to altitude tracking and will require new Apple hardware. It’s possible that altitude tracking abilities might be incorporated in the new iPads and iWatch, as well. Barometer hardware could track altitude more quickly and accurately than current altitude-measuring apps that work based on GPS and motion chips. References to ambient pressure tracking were also found within iOS 8, meaning that other air pressure sensors within new devices could alert users to changes in the weather.

Apple TV to gain continuity feature?

Some users running the newest betas for iOS, OS X, and Apple TV have seen a notification that “Apple TV is now available for Continuity,” according to 9to5Mac. It’s possible Apple TV will gain some parts of the new Continuity feature seen in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, which allows users to see notifications from one device on the other devices, among other options. It seems feasible that Apple TV could at least use Continuity to view incoming call notifications, or to use the Handoff feature to continue watching iOS videos on Apple TV, for instance. Speculating further, this functionality may be compatible with Apple TV to support an app store for the set-top box in the future.

Apple TV price cut in Europe

Apple has dropped the price of the Apple TV in European markets. The Apple TV is now €99 in Europe and £79 in the United Kingdom, down from €109 and £99, respectively. In the U.S., the Apple TV remains $99. On Tuesday, a new Apple TV software beta was released to developers — the beta includes the iCloud Family Sharing feature coming in iOS 8. [via 9to5Mac]

Adonit releases Jot Touch with Pixelpoint stylus

Adonit has released its newest stylus, the Jot Touch with Pixelpoint ($120). Pixelpoint is a 3.18 mm fine point tip designed to improve precision and accuracy. The new stylus comes with programmable shortcut buttons and the ability to connect to Adobe Creative Cloud. It also offers 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and palm rejection when connected to a Bluetooth 4.0-equipped device.

Jot Touch charges using USB, with Adonit claiming about 11 hours of battery life for continuous use, and a month while in sleep mode. It takes about 90 minutes to charge the accessory. Jot Touch with Pixelpoint comes in black or white and is available now.

Apple promoting books Amazon won’t sell

Apple is looking to take advantage of Amazon’s ongoing dispute with Hachette Book Group — or at least ruffle Amazon’s feathers — by promoting discounted Hachette books in its iTunes Store. Currently, Apple is promoting 26 books under the heading “Popular Pre-Orders: $9.99 or Less,” and all of the books are from Hachette. Re/Code confirmed the promotion with Apple, but pricing arrangements were not disclosed. Amazon and Hachette couldn’t reach an agreement during contact negotiations and have been at odds ever since, with Amazon stating it is “buying less (print) inventory and ‘safety stock’ ” from Hachette.

Apps: Automatic 2.0, Paper 1.2, Slingshot + WebMD 5.0

Automatic Labs, makers of the Automatic Link, has released version 2.0 of the Automatic app. The free app, which can only be used in conjunction with the accessory, has been redesigned and can now give users fuel level updates and low-fuel warnings. Also, the speed warning alerts can now be customized to whatever speed the user wants.

Facebook has updated its Paper (free) app to version 1.2. The app has added a number of new features, many of which have long been accessible through the original Facebook app. A user can now edit his or her profile picture and cover photo, view photo tags, tag friends, add hashtags, copy text, and more. It may not sound like much to normal users of the Facebook app, but considering Paper’s added visual appeal, some people may prefer Paper as the features come closer to achieving parity.

Apple releases iOS 8 beta 2, Apple TV beta software to developers

Apple has released iOS 8 beta 2 to registered developers. The release is available over-the-air through Settings. 9to5Mac reports that a new Apple TV software beta has also been released. We’ll update in the near future with any pertinent information on what’s new and notable within iOS 8 beta 2.

Photos of iPad Air 2 physical mockup show Touch ID

  • June 17, 2014
  • iPad

Photos of an iPad Air 2 physical mockup including Touch ID have surfaced online. The mockup looks much like the current iPad Air, with a few changes. In addition to the Touch ID, the mockup has recessed volume controls.

There’s also a new hole on the side of the device — if accurate, it may be part of a dual-mic system working in tandem with a mic located near the rear camera. It also appears that the power button is recessed, as well. [via nowhereelse.fr]

Unicode Standard update adds new characters, 250 new emoji

The Unicode Consortium has announced version 7.0 of the Unicode Standard, which includes 2,834 new characters and approximately 250 emoji. Emojipedia has the full list of brief descriptions for the new emoji characters, including Thermometer, Hot Pepper, Derelict House Building, Waving White Flag, Man In Business Suit Levitating, Dagger Knife, Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended, and many more. Added Unicode symbols include currency symbols for the Russian ruble and Azerbaijani manat, among many others.

Apple must provide support for the Unicode update to properly represent the emoji in iOS. In March, it was reported that Apple was “working closely” with the Unicode Consortium to include more diverse characters in emoji; it’s unclear whether the Version 7.0 updates were part of that collaboration.

Nest Protect alarm returning to stores with lower price

The Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Detector is returning to stores with a new retail price of $99, down from $130, The New York Times reports. Nest recently halted sales of the alarm after finding a safety feature — Nest Wave — could cause the alarm to have a delayed reaction to fire in some circumstances. Users with installed Nest alarms connected to the Internet had the feature deactivated by Nest, and it will be reactivated remotely once the company solves the issue. The announcement is not unexpected, as Nest said weeks ago the alarm would soon be back on the market.

Apple settles with states, consumers for e-book price fixing

Apple has settled with states and consumers seeking damages from the company’s role in fixing e-book prices, Bloomberg reports. The company avoids a trial set for next month in which the company faced up to $840 million in damage claims; terms of the settlement were not disclosed. A judge ruled last July that Apple conspired to raise e-book prices — the upcoming trial would have provided additional state-level consumer relief based upon the federal ruling. It’s noted that Apple still plans on appealing the original federal ruling, and unclear as to what consequences a successful appeal might have upon this settlement.

Ive promises new device materials in NYT interview

The New York Times has released an edited transcript of an interview with Apple design chief Jony Ive, who was interviewed for the paper’s recent profile of Apple CEO Tim Cook. In the interview, Ive said, “I would love to talk about future stuff – they’re materials we haven’t worked in before. I’ve been working on this stuff for a few years now.” Although Ive didn’t specify the new materials, Apple has shown clear signs of interest in working further with LiquidMetal and sapphire glass, each material having been used only in minor prior components. Alleged rear assemblies for the iPhone 6 appear to show a unibody metal housing with bonded antenna stripes, despite the fact that most metals inhibit antennas rather than letting them radiate, an issue that the more complex glass-like LiquidMetal is apparently capable of solving.

While people wait for the next big thing from Apple, Ive notes that it’s hard to be patient, even for the company’s key executives. Despite public clamor for new products, Ive also pointed out that the iPhone, iPod, and iPad were all dismissed by some people upon being introduced.

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