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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

Microsoft plans to extend Xbox Live to iOS games

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 pressing labels for exclusive album releases

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.

Volvo reveals more CarPlay details, confirms Wi-Fi soon

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.

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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.”

Cook rails against ending ‘green’ projects; profiled in book

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 on Asian hiring spree to speed up production

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 rebrands iOS in the Car as CarPlay, slates debut

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.”

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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.

Apple CFO named to Goldman Sachs board

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.”

Apple to charge out-of-warranty users for online chat support

  • February 28, 2014
  • Apple

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.

iLounge Game Spotlight: God of Light

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.

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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.

Cook: Apple TV earned $1B revenue in 2013

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]

Apple offers $25 gift with Apple TV, new hardware coming?

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.

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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]

Apple to fix Touch ID issues in update?

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.

Apps: Another Case Solved, Instapaper 5.1.5, Slack 1.33 + Yahoo News Digest 1.1

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.

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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.

Apple details A7, Touch ID security in document

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]

Apple TV poll ends, iWatch poll begins

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.

Apple releases iTunes 11.1.5

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.

Apple appeals e-book antitrust ruling

  • February 26, 2014
  • Apple

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.

Apple releases iBeacon specification

  • February 25, 2014
  • Apple

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.

Apps: Brian Cox’s Wonders of Life, Disney Movies Everywhere, MLB.com At Bat 7.0 + NCAA Sports 2.0

Brian Cox’s Wonders of Life ($6) from HarperCollins lets users explore nature through 3D creatures and habits, video, and high-res images. More than two hours of video let users view creatures in HD, and more than 1,000 high-res images include commentary. It’s an extremely impressive app — a collection of fascinating nature documentaries can be at one’s fingertips within minutes. The app’s guide is noted English physicist and professor Brian Cox.

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Disney’s new Disney Movies Everywhere (free) app lets users stream their Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movie collection from anywhere. The app connects to the iTunes account to build a collection, and new movies can be purchased through the app. Digital copies of films can also be redeemed within the app. Disney Movies Everywhere also offers a number of other features, including free exclusive content and Disney Movie Rewards points. Currently, Disney is offering a free copy of The Incredibles for connecting the app to an iTunes account.

TV4 Play added to Apple TV in Sweden

Apple has added a new TV4 Play channel to Apple TV in Sweden. Swedish network TV4 announced the addition to Apple TV, along with pricing tiers and features.

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For free, users can can watch some live broadcasts, and shows for 7 days after broadcast. A premium tier adds some live sports and removes commercial breaks, while the premium sports tier adds even more live sports, including the Swedish Hockey League and various world soccer leagues. [via 9to5Mac]

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