Logitech has announced two new home control remotes — the Harmony Ultimate ($350) and Harmony Smart Control ($130) — that can both use an iOS app for control. Harmony Ultimate is a full remote with 2.4” color touchscreen that can control up to 15 devices through swipes and taps. It can also control the Philips Hue lighting system.
Harmony Smart Control works mainly through the Harmony smartphone app, though it also comes with a simple remote. It can consolidate up to eight remote controls into one app. Both remotes are compatible with 225,000 home theater devices, and both include the Harmony Hub, which turns RF signals from the remote into IR and Bluetooth commands for home theater device compatibility. The Harmony Hub also allows users to control devices through cabinets and walls. Harmony Ultimate is expected to launch this month, while Harmony Smart Control should be available in May.
Twitter is planning on launching its new standalone iOS music application this weekend, possibly as early as today, according to reports. A new site, music.twitter.com, asks users for permission to allow an app called Trending Music Web, though at this point authorization of the app only sends users back to the sign in page.
The app will suggest artists and songs based on “personalized signals,” which include the Twitter accounts a user follows. Third-party services, such as iTunes, will allow users to listen to music clips within the app. Users will also be able to watch music videos from Vevo. Twitter recently acknowledged its acquisition of the music startup We Are Hunted, which tracked the most popular songs on social networks. [via AllThingsD]
Update: Twitter’s music app will launch to the public in about a week; for now, only select celebrities and “influencers” have access to the app. [via AllThingsD]
Google Inc.‘s Chrome (free) app has updated to version 26.0.1410.50. Google’s browser for iOS now allows users to access fullscreen browsing for iPhone and iPod touch — the toolbar can be scrolled off the screen to view a full page of content on the devices. Printing has also been updated, as it’s now possible to print web pages using either AirPrint or Google Cloud Print. It’s also now possible to save any page as a PDF to a Google Drive account.
Foursquare Labs, Inc. has released version 6.0 of its popular Foursquare (free) app. The newest update focuses on the “most interesting things nearby.” Sort of Foursquare’s attempt at a best-of, the app can now tell users the top attractions in the area. Search has also been given a more prevalent role within the app, as the Explore field has been moved to the top of the app when it’s opened.
Apple has refused to carry a comic, Saga #12, on app-based platforms due to gay sex scenes, according to a report. The comic’s writer, Brian K. Vaughan, said in a press release, “Unfortunately, because of two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex, Apple is banning tomorrow’s SAGA #12 from being sold through any iOS apps.” Vaughan notes that Saga has “featured what I would consider much more graphic imagery in the past.”
Notably, the comic should still be available in Apple’s iBookstore, according to publisher Image Comics. Apple is known for curating its App Store, but Comixology’s Comics app is rated as 17+. “Frequent/Intense Sexual Content or Nudity” is listed as one of the reasons for the rating. Other illustrations of sexual content and nudity have been allowed within the app — and in earlier issues of the same comic. [via Comics Beat, The Verge]
Update: Comixology CEO David Steinberger has released a statement noting Apple did not ban the comic; rather, Comixology did not release Saga #12 based on the company’s understanding of Apple’s policies. Steinberger notes, “We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance.” Saga #12 will be available on the Comixology app soon.
A new report claims the recent removal of AppGratis from the App Store was just the beginning, as the ouster of AppGratis was “a first step in a broader enforcement action,” mainly targeted at similar discovery apps found to violate clauses 2.25 and 5.6 of Apple’s App Store review guidelines. Apple feels such apps “threaten the legitimacy of the App Store charts” by letting developers spend money to increase their ranking. The company is also concerned the App Store could become overwhelmed with “alternative storefronts” through these apps.
Apple’s clause 2.25 was thought to be a way of restricting third-party App Store promotion when it first appeared — those initial examinations of the clause now appear to be true. The clause states, “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.” Clause 5.6 states that “Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.” A stronger enforcement of these clauses could lead to many discovery apps disappearing from the App Store in the near future. [via AllThingsD]
HBO Go (free) from Home Box Office, Inc. has been updated to version 2.1. The app, which lets HBO subscribers stream episodes on mobile devices, now features AirPlay multitasking capability. Now users can stream HBO video to AirPlay while continuing to use other apps on their iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Additionally, interactive features for the app’s Game of Thrones experience have been enhanced.
Warner Bros. has brought Injustice: Gods Among Us (free) to iOS before its console launch in a few weeks. The freemium fighting game features your favorite DC characters, from Superman to Batman to The Flash and many others. Users can add collectible cards to their roster to unlock characters, moves, and powers. The fighting is three-on-three tag team action, similar to the more recent Marvel vs. Capcom games. Touchscreen controls enable special moves and combos, though those used to duking it out in console games may find the gameplay a bit awkward. Notably, the game features cross-platform functionality — items can be unlocked in the console version for use in the mobile game, and vice versa.
Apple has removed AppGratis, a popular deal and discovery app, from the App Store for violating two clauses in Apple’s App Store review guidelines. According to a new report, Apple has confirmed the app violated clause 2.25, “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected,” and clause 5.6, “Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.” A source noted Apple was “more than a little troubled” by AppGratis’ business model, which appears to favor developers who pay for exposure. Apple declined further comment; AppGratis did not comment. [via AllThingsD]
Algoriddim’s djay for iPhone app ($1) — our 2012 pick for iPhone/iPad App of the Year — has updated to version 1.6.4 with an array of new upgrades. Most notably, the app has added Audiobus support, allowing users to stream live audio to any other Audiobus-compatible apps. The app now pauses automatically when headphones are disconnected or the audio is docked. There are a number of other tweaks, including improved handling of iOS audio system errors and caching, and the app fixes earlier issues with audio distortion, audio controls, and crashes.
Well-respected as an alternative to Eye-Fi’s photo-grabbing app for iOS devices, ShutterSnitch ($16) from 2ndNature has added a number of updates since we last checked in on the app. Now on version 2.9.6, ShutterSnitch now offers dramatically wider support for different types of wireless camera accessories, including not only Eye-Fi cards but also Transcend Wi-Fi cards, Toshiba FlashAir cards, PQI cards, and official Canon and Nikon PTP/IP transmitters. The app also includes proper iPhone 5 support, and various usability tweaks.
Creatorverse (free), the inventive, open-ended game app from Linden Research, has become free after updating to version 1.2. The app is optimized for iPad, and includes basic creation tools that allow users to invent complex objects such as basic machines, then set their inventions in motion with a physics engine. Using joints, teleporters, motors, and other forces, users can create whatever inventions they can think up, then watch them go. Advanced creation tools can be added via in-app purchasing.
Square Enix’s classic RPG Final Fantasy V ($16) has made its way to iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Originally released in 1992 for Nintendo’s Japanese Super Famicom system—with a U.S. release for the Super NES notably cancelled—the iOS port uses touch-screen controls and an active-time battle system that are “optimized for fluid combat on mobile devices.” Veteran character designer Kazuko Shibuya has returned to recreate the characters and graphics for the iOS port, which is based upon a later re-release of the game for the Game Boy Advance. The game also features “The Sealed Temple” from the 2006 release, in addition to the optional boss Enuo.
Apple is preparing to launch its own dedicated game controller, according to a new report. Apple allegedly discussed plans for the controller in private meetings at the Game Developers Conference this week, and the company is “ensuring plenty of games will support the joypad at launch.” Little else is known about the rumored controller — its physical appearance and release date are unknown. Game developers have been waiting for years for an Apple-developed solution to appear, and the only known authorized third-party solution (Duo Games’ Duo Gamer) was locked out of supporting most third-party titles. Notably, the report comes from PocketGamer, which previously cited anonymous sources to claim that Apple would launch a $20 premium games section of the iOS App Store, which never materialized; as such, the claims should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Update: Often given Apple’s off-the-record responses to rumors, The Loop denies the report.
In-app purchases generated a record 76 percent of total App Store revenue in the U.S. in February, according to a report from Distimo, a company that tracks app performance and metrics. The new report tracks revenues generated through the App Store, so ad revenue is excluded. At least 90 percent of all Asian market revenue came from in-app purchases, Distimo claims. Despite this, freemium apps were found to generate the least amount of revenue per download — just 93 cents per download based on the top 250 apps in the U.S. App Store, which might suggest that developers are hurting themselves by giving away apps in hopes of subsequent purchases, apart from building larger user bases. Paid iPhone apps without in-app purchases generated an average of $2.25 per download, and paid apps with in-app purchases generate even more revenue. iPad paid apps average $4.04 in revenue per download.
Flipboard Inc. has updated its free Flipboard app to version 2.0. The web article aggregator now lets users collect and save content into “magazines” that are public by default, but can be made private. A new bookmarklet makes it easier to add items to magazines from your browser, and sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks is now easier. Personalized recommendations are now available, and search — now in a more prominent position — has been improved.
Repulze ($3), the futuristic racer from Pixelbite, has now been updated with additional features that bring it closer to Sony’s classic Wipeout series. Version 1.0.4, aka “Phase Three,” adds weapons and AI opponents to the game. New challenges, hovercrafts and tracks have also been added. At this point, the weapons are still pretty basic, and the stages don’t have quite the right balance of weapon-racing action, as Repulze continues to feel like a beta version of a finished game. But the graphics and speed continue to improve with every release, and if subsequent updates evolve the weapon systems further, Pixelbite might just have an excellent game on its hands.
Parents of young children have a love-hate affair with the Canadian kids’ cartoon Caillou, featuring a relatable four-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister Rosie. While Caillou cartoons nicely touch upon common childhood themes, including role-playing, exploration, and parent-child interactions, the title character whines and pouts frequently enough to teach impressionable kids bad behaviors. Fingerprint’s new Step-by-Story - Caillou’s Window ($1) thankfully does away with the whining, but isn’t going to win the series any new fans, either. It lets kids choose very short pre-built or built-it-yourself stories featuring Caillou characters, stringing together five or so concepts to form a complete (if not particularly compelling) “story” like this one: (1) Outside, it was fall, (2) when Daddy saw (3) Caillou skiing and (4) Sarah (5) on a shooting star. Each of these clauses adds a simple, lightly animated foreground object to a flat background image while Caillou’s theme song plays and a narrator slowly enunciates the clauses. That’s it — though the art is high-resolution, it’s flat, and there’s no additional interactivity. Kids who try the app may be interested at first, only to discover that little they do while watching the “story” has any impact on the screen. We’d suggest passing on this one.
Google has introduced a number of new features to its Google Plus (free) social networking app. A new profile design is the first notable change users may see, along with a new notifications tray. Version 4.3.0 also includes new photo editing tools, such as filters, rotating and cropping. Users can also control the volume of posts from individual circles or communities and filter search results. There are also more community options — you can tell your friends about a community and reshare posts, along with displaying counts for unread messages and new moderation features in communities.
Apple has confirmed that it has added an “Offers In-App Purchases” line to freemium apps found in the App Store. Currently, the line is only found within the iTunes desktop version of the App Store. The company recently settled a class action lawsuit over freemium apps aimed at children, but as one British boy showed during an in-app spending spree, freemium purchases remain an issue. The disclosure offers a somewhat more conspicuous up-front sign of the potential for post-download charges, though apps can squeak through by debuting without in-app purchasing and subsequently adding the feature. [via The Guardian]
Apple has announced on its developer website that starting May 1, the App Store will also no longer accept new apps or updates that access device-specific identifiers known as UDIDs. It’s been known for some time that Apple planned to phase out the use of UDIDs, replacing them with the new Advertising Identifier in iOS 6. On the same date, new apps and updates submitted to the App Store must be built for iOS devices with Retina displays, and must support the iPhone 5/iPod touch 5G four-inch displays, suggesting that Apple will emphasize larger and/or higher-resolution screens while downplaying smaller, lower-resolution ones.
Apple has updated its Podcasts app to version 1.2, adding custom stations which update automatically with new episodes from your favorite podcasts, and playlists synced from iTunes, among other features. Stations are also stored in iCloud and kept updated on all devices.
The interface has seen a few changes, as well — notably, the “reels” optionally shown while playing an audio podcast are now gone, with some previously obscured functionality merged into the main audio playback screen. Buttons have been moved around within the My Podcasts library screen, and “Top Stations” are now referred to as “Top Charts,” amongst other tweaks. Our editors have noted new crash bugs, however, so you might want to hold off on downloading the update for now.
Google’s personal assistant, Google Now, is apparently ready to debut on iOS sometime in the near future — but just when appears to be up to Apple. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was asked at the Google Big Tent Summit, “When can I get Google Now on my iPhone?” Schmidt said, “You’ll need to discuss that with Apple. Apple has a policy of approving or disapproving apps that are submitted into its store, and some of the apps we make they approve and some of them they don’t.” Schmidt also referred to Google Maps, saying it was “recently” approved by Apple. [via TechCrunch]
Update: Apple says Google Now hasn’t been submitted to its App Store. [via CNET]
In an unusual move of supporting third-party APIs, Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS adding the ability to receive audio from other iOS apps via Audiobus. Designed to facilitate mixing audio across multiple apps on a single iOS device, Audiobus is a third-party app that other iOS music apps can interface with to send and receive audio with other compatible apps. The addition of Audiobus support in GarageBand now allows users to record and sequence sounds from a wide variety of other Audiobus supported apps, such as Amplitube, Music Studio, AmpKit, BeatMaker, and dozens more.
The latest GarageBand update also adds the ability to disable grid snapping for finder editing control and resolves an issue with connecting third-party audio accessories to the 3.5mm headphone/mic jack. GarageBand 1.4 is available from the App Store for $5.
Just released, Speedbump’s Kingpin Lanes ($2) is an iOS universal bowling game completely rendered in 3-D, and impressively built by one man using the Unreal Engine. In addition to the expected ball-tossing, pin-knocking action, the game offers a fully explorable bowling alley, including a functioning pro shop, and an arcade with four playable mini games. Five fully voiced and animated characters can compete on a variety of lanes. The game also lets users create their own soundtrack using a device’s on-board music.
Now featuring full French and German translations in version 1.2, The Orchestra ($14) from Touch Press is an iPad app that features eight symphonic works performed by London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. As the orchestra plays extended extracts of the works — from the likes of Beethoven, Haydn, Debussy, Stravinsky, and others — the app lets users select from multiple video and audio tracks in real-time. A synchronized score and note-by-note visualization of each piece are also included. Audio and subtitled commentaries are also available on every piece, from the conductor and the players. Each instrument is also profiled, and the musicians explain their roles in the orchestra.
As the latest Peapod Labs ABC-themed title, ABC Farm ($3) teaches children vocabulary in English or Spanish through sight, sound, and touch. More than 50 farm-related words are taught through photos, interactive scenes, videos, pictures, and sounds. ABC Farm’s major new feature is the addition of a bilingual mode that enables the app to pivot with a single button push from English to Spanish — this feature can be used to teach a single Spanish word after seeing the English version, or the entire Spanish word set, alphabetized, as an alternative to the English word set. Every word and letter is spoken aloud in the currently selected language. While it looks familiar on the surface, ABC Farm boasts impressive new depth, and kids will enjoy it.
Evernote’s Evernote Food (free) has been updated to version 2.1. The update adds OpenTable integration, so users can make restaurant reservations and view restaurant ratings from within the app. It’s also easier to share recipes, both from Evernote to Evernote Food’s My Cookbook section, and via Facebook, Twitter, and email. It’s also possible to browse and search for recipes in Japanese and Chinese. Other improvements involve bug fixes, better image uploading, and improved search results.