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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

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.

iPhone 6 with 4.7” screen in fall, 5.5” model delayed?

Apple suppliers will start mass producing displays for the next iPhone “as early as May” for the next iPhone’s release this fall, Reuters reports. It’s reported that a 4.7” screen is “likely” to be produced first, but the rumored 5.5” version of the new iPhone could be delayed. According to a source, difficulties with in-cell production technology in the larger version of the phone prompted Apple to start mass production of the 4.7” version on its own. The 5.5” version of the new phone could enter production “several months later,” with a film sensor being used instead of in-cell technology.

TD-LTE iPad Air and iPad mini released in China

Apple announced TD-LTE models of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display are available in China, starting today. Although there were already existing iPad Air and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular models, these are the first new iPad models sold in China to support higher speeds. Prices for the TD-LTE iPad Air range from 4,488 RMB ($723) for 16GB, to 6,588 RMB ($1062) for 128 GB. TD-LTE iPad mini with Retina display prices range from 3,788 ($610) to 5,888 RMB ($949). It appears these new iPads represent the two new iPad models spotted in iOS 7.1, and will only be available on a regional basis.

Alleged iPhone 6 leaked pics show protruding camera

Alleged photos of the iPhone 6 have surfaced on Weibo. The pictures show a large phone that appears to have a metal frame in the middle, capped off on each end by D-shaped pieces with rounded edges. A protruding rear camera with a smaller, circular flash than the iPhone 5s can be spotted in the shots.

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Another photo reveals a computer rendering that appears to match recently seen drawings; the design is in some ways similar to the fifth-generation iPod touch, but with iPhone-like antenna compartments. The veracity of these photos — including any identification of which new alleged iPhone 6 model this may be — is unclear. [via G 4 Games]

Blackberry wins injunction banning Typo Keyboard Case

Blackberry won a preliminary injunction against Typo Products last Friday, banning the Typo Keyboard Case from being sold in the United States. Judge William Orrick said Blackberry established a “likelihood” of patent infringement, according to Reuters. Blackberry, which first filed suit against Typo in January, said the ruling will “help prevent further injury to Blackberry from Typo’s blatant theft of our patented keyboard technology.” Typo announced that it plans to appeal the decision.

Google’s Android key to latest Apple-Samsung trial

The latest Apple-Samsung trial is scheduled to start today, and both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal report that Google’s Android operating system will be in the crosshairs. While Samsung is claiming Apple violated two of its patents, Apple is seeking about $2 billion in damages for the violation of five of its own mobile software patents. Samsung claims that features from four of the affected patents were licensed as part of Android, which Google worked on before Apple filed the patents. If Apple wins, Google could have to make significant changes to Android. Apple is also seeking $40 per infringing Samsung device sold in the United States.

iLounge Game Spotlight: Sometimes You Die

Sometimes You Die ($2) is a new minimalist puzzler/side scroller from Philipp Stollenmayer. Unlike most games, in which a player’s death is usually a setback, Sometimes You Die lets players benefit from dying. Many of the puzzles seem to require such sacrifices.

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It’s clear from the very beginning that Sometimes You Die is a different kind of side scroller. Players use onscreen controls to move a simple boxed cursor — a greater-than/less-than symbol — through dark levels with ominous music, voiceovers, and omnipresent typography. You can move left, right, and jump. Some players may linger on the words in the background longer than others, as Sometimes You Die attempts to make you question basic tenants of gaming as you’re zipping and jumping around. The animation is sparse but smooth.

Report: Apple attempting to hire Swiss watchmakers

Apple is trying to lure top Swiss watchmakers away from their companies to work on the iWatch, the Financial Times reports. Jean-Claude Biver, president of LVMH’s watches and jewelry division, said Apple has tried to recruit staff from Hublot and parts manufacturers. “Apple has contacted some of my employees — I saw the emails personally,” he said, noting none of those employees accepted an offer from the Cupertino company. Apple declined comment.

Swatch chief executive Nick Hayek said his company has been contacted by “practically all players” in “smart wearables,” but said, “However, we see no reason why we should enter into any partnership agreement.” According to the report, Hayek seeks to “protect Swatch’s intellectual property advantages over tech rivals, including ergonomic design, longevity and battery life.”

Philips announces Hue Lux and Hue Tap

Philips has announced new additions to its Hue lightbulb line — Hue Lux and Hue Tap. Lux is a white-only Hue bulb. The Hue app can control the brightness and set schedules for the Lux bulb, which comes in a starter kit with two bulbs and a Hue bridge for $100. Hue Lux will be released “after summer 2014.”

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Hue Tap is a light switch for Hue which requires no batteries or wires; the switch works using kinetic energy from finger taps. The switch lets users control bulbs and activate lighting scenes. Tap will be available “after summer” in North America and Europe for $60.

iTunes credits sent out for e-book price fixing

Customers affected by Apple’s role in the e-book price fixing scandal are now receiving emails with iTunes credits. Though Apple is appealing the ruling, the company is still sending credits to customers. The emails are coming from the E-Book AG Settlement Administrator — not Apple — so customers should be sure to check their spam folders. Each email contains an iTunes Store credit activation code, and the credit will expire on April 1, 2015, if not activated. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple getting 30 percent of Office 365 in-app sales

Microsoft’s Office for iPad apps went on sale Thursday, and it’s been revealed that a cut of the Office 365 subscriptions sold within the apps are going to Apple. Apple confirmed that Microsoft is paying the customary 30 percent cut to Apple for in-app sales of the subscriptions, Re/code reports. Apple previously rejected a Microsoft SkyDrive update which offered storage subscriptions due to Microsoft’s disagreement on the 30 percent cut. Microsoft has now apparently acquiesced to Apple’s demands.

Microsoft also announced that it is offering free Office 365 subscriptions to the first 50 people who bring their iPad into Microsoft retail stores, starting today. The free subscriptions will last for one year. As noted in the fine print, customers must participate in Microsoft’s “Put My iPad to Work” social campaign to be eligible — whatever that is.

Apps: Game of Thrones Ascent, iTunes Movie Trailers 1.4, Star Wars: Assault Team + Twitter 6.3

The strategy game Game of Thrones Ascent has come to iPad from developer Kongregate. Based on the wildly popular George R.R. Martin novels and HBO show, Game of Thrones Ascent already has 2.5 million online players. The game will be updated with new quests each Monday following new Sunday episodes on HBO — season 4 of the show starts April 6. While free to play, Game of Thrones Ascent does feature a number of in-app purchases.

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Apple’s free iTunes Movie Trailers app has added a number of features in version 1.4. iTunes Movie Trailers now allows users to read Rotten Tomatoes critic reviews directly in the app. Users can also add a movie to the Favorites section to be notified when the film is released in theaters or on the iTunes Store, and links to trailers can be shared using AirDrop. The customary bug fixes and performance improvements are also included in the update.

Report: New hi-res iPhones ‘as early as September’

Apple’s new iPhone will arrive in two screen sizes “as early as September,” Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review reports. The report claims mass production of LCD panels will start next quarter, noting the resolution of the handset “is expected to be significantly higher than that of current models.”  As previously reported, Nikkei claims the new iPhone will allegedly come in two screen sizes — 4.7” and 5.5”. Another report claimed the two screen sizes could be 4.7” and an even larger 5.7”.

Microsoft announces Office for iPad

As expected, Microsoft officially announced Office for iPad today at an event featuring new CEO Satya Nadella. Office for iPad will go live at 2 p.m. EST today with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint in the App Store. For free, users can download the apps to read and present documents. With an Office 365 subscription, users will get to create and edit documents.

Update: Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for iPad are all live in the App Store.

Apple patent may hint at sapphire touchscreens

A newly published patent application further hints at the possibility of sapphire displays in Apple products. The application for “oleophobic coating on sapphire” reveals a component that would feature a surface coating and transition layer on top of a sapphire glass base layer, which may be “a window for a portable electronic device.”

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A described method would allow fingerprint-repelling oleophobic coating to be used on top of the sapphire glass. It’s been reported that Apple’s new Arizona sapphire plant has the capacity for mass production, with some speculating new iPhone displays could be made of sapphire.[via AppleInsider]

Apple engineer shares details on iPhone creation

Apple senior software engineer Greg Christie has revealed a number of details about the birth of the iPhone to the Wall Street Journal. Christie and his team were struggling with the original iPhone’s software when Apple co-founder and then-CEO Steve Jobs told the group it had two weeks to figure it out, or it would lose the project to another team. Needless to say, the “shockingly small” team pulled through, creating features such as slide to unlock and placing calls from the phone’s address book. Christie was made available ahead of next Monday’s latest patent trial between Apple and Samsung — one patent Apple claims Samsung infringed upon is the slide to unlock feature. Among other details included in the article is a photo revealing a messy system used by Apple to test early iPhone software.

Apple working to add diversty to emoji

Apple is working on adding more diversity to the emoji keyboard character set, according to MTV Act. The website reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook about the lack of diversity in emoji, and received a response from Katie Cotton, Apple Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Communications: “Tim forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.” It’s unclear when such an emoji update could happen.

Former Delta VP joins Apple online retail

Bob Kupbens, former vice president of marketing and digital commerce at Delta Air Lines, has joined Apple. According to his LinkedIn page, Kupbens’ title is VP, Apple Online Retail. Advertising Age noted the title was unconfirmed, but regardless, Kupbens looks to play a large role in Apple’s online retail efforts. The news comes during a time of change for Apple retail, as Angela Ahrendts will soon take over as the company’s new head of retail as Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores.

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