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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.

WSJ: Samsung possible suitor for Siri tech developer Nuance

Nuance Communications — the company behind the speech-recognition technology used in Apple’s Siri — has held buy-out discussions with Samsung, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s reported that Nuance has discussed a sale with both Samsung and private-equity firms, but it’s unclear how close the company is to being sold at this time. Nuance’s biggest shareholder is Carl Icahn, who currently has a large stake in Apple. Last July, a report noted that Apple assembled a new team to work on Siri speech-recognition — a team that included a number of members who previously worked for Nuance — in a possible move to reduce its reliance on Nuance’s technology. [via MacRumors]

Transportation Department looking to regulate navigation apps

A proposed transportation bill from the Obama administration would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration authority to regulate navigation aids in cars, including smartphone apps, reports The New York Times. The bill, known as the Grow America Act, contains a measure that would give the NHTSA the ability to place restrictions on apps, and order changes if certain features are found to be dangerous. Automakers and a number of safety advocates support the measure, in the hopes that it will reduce distracted driving. However, tech companies and other critics don’t believe it’s possible to properly regulate such apps. Apple and Google both declined comment on the article.

NYT profile praises Cook’s humanity, questions growth potential

Tim Cook is the subject of a New York Times profile that attempts to explain how the Apple CEO is reshaping the company in his own ways. While his predecessor Steve Jobs was known for being “maniacal about design,” Cook takes a less hands-on approach, with more decisions delegated to his trusted team. Cook is praised in the piece for his strong values, and how he believes Apple is committed to “advancing humanity.” As he told shareholders in a February meeting, “If you want me to make decisions that have a clear [return on investment], then you should get out of the stock.” Curiously enough, though Apple design chief Jony Ive, Disney CEO and Apple board member Robert Iger, and others were interviewed for the profile, Cook himself declined an interview.

The article points out how Cook’s values can be seen in the development of Apple’s iWatch. Cook is apparently most intrigued by the big picture health implications of the device — how it can change health for the better by monitoring vital measures and reducing visits to doctors. Some space in the profile is given to the recent clamoring for more innovation from Apple, with critics finding Cook “uninspiring,” and claiming that the company’s prior soul has been lost. Growth concerns are also noted; the company’s sales are currently so large that there may not be an opportunity for a big needle-moving increase. Ive, however, doesn’t believe anything has changed within the company when it comes to a desire to innovate. Though the report notes Cook “digests things carefully, with time,” Ive suggested that waiting for such innovations to be revealed has always been a challenge. “It is hard for all of us to be patient,” he said. “It was hard for Steve. It is hard for Tim.”

Apple apparently allowing Bitcoin wallet apps again

iOS Bitcoin wallet app Coin Pocket has recently been published in the App Store, as it appears Apple is again allowing such apps in its ecosystem. A recent report noted that Apple updated its App Store Review Guidelines to allow for certain virtual currency apps. Coin Pocket is an app that allows users to send and receive Bitcoin from an iOS device. It won’t be a surprise to see more Bitcoin wallet apps pop up in the App Store now — popular Bitcoin wallet Blockchain was pulled in February, but Blockchain CEO Nic Cary has already said he will be resubmitting the app for Apple’s approval. As noted by CoinDesk, a few other non-wallet apps are also now allowing Bitcoin transactions, as well.

Report: Apple cracking down on fake app ratings

Apple has reportedly been removing fake App Store reviews that have improved the chart ranking of certain apps, according to TechCrunch. These rating removals have been going on for an indeterminate amount of time. A recent tweet noted one app saw 20,000 ratings removed “overnight,” and the report claims it was due to Apple’s intervention.

Another recent report noted that Apple has started rejecting apps that offer rewards for video ads and social sharing. It appears as if Apple is once again taking a larger role to step in and adjust what it sees as problems within the App Store.

iLounge Weekly coming Monday, giveaway update

The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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Also don’t forget about our uNu DX-5 Battery Case Giveaway, in which iLounge and uNu are giving away fifteen uNu DX-5 Battery Cases for the iPhone 5 and 5s in three different colour options. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page; the giveaway ends June 30, 2014 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

iLounge Game Spotlight: Lex

Lex ($1) is a new word game from Simple Machine. Players are tasked with building words as fast as they can. Though there’s no board, the game should feel familiar to Scrabble players.

Players in Lex make words from a “rack” of nine letters. When letters are used in a word, they disappear, and new letters arrive. However, to up the drama, the letter tiles start to turn red as they hang around — the tiles “fill up” from the bottom. Once a letter tile turns completely red, the game ends. Letters with the lowest point values fill up quickest, and it appears that Lex dutifully follows the traditional Scrabble point values. For instance, vowels are worth one point, Q and Z are worth 10, and so forth.

Apple announces exchange program for some European 5W power adapters

Apple has announced an exchange program for its 5W European USB power adapters that “may overheat and pose a safety risk.” The affected adapters came with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S models shipped from October 2009 to September 2012 in a number of European countries — the full list is included within the announcement. Though the adapters only pose a risk “in rare cases,” the company is voluntarily offering a free, new, redesigned power adapter for each affected adapter exchanged. Affected models are marked “Model A1300” with the letters “CE” in solid gray.

Apple recommends users with these adapters discontinue use and exchange the adapter. In the meantime, users can charge their iPhones by connecting the USB cable to a computer. Users must bring their affected adapters to an Apple Retail Store or participating Apple Authorized Service Provider to make the exchange for a new adapter.

Apps: Broken Age, (R)evolve, Skype 5.0 + VVVVVV

Broken Age ($10) from Double Fine Productions is the first graphic adventure game in 16 years from developer Tim Schafer. Famously funded through Kickstarter, Broken Age is an iPad-only game which was first released on other platforms in January. Players control two teenagers who find themselves in similar situations, but in completely different magical worlds. A star-studded affair, it features the voice talents of Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Jennifer Hale, Wil Wheaton, and Pendleton Ward. The game has been well reviewed, and if you’re a fan of point-and-click adventures, it would make a lot of sense to get the iPad version. Act 1 is now available, and Act 2 of the game will be added as an in-app purchase in the future.

(R)evolve (free) is a new release from Team17 Software, best known for developing the Worms series. The game tasks players with taking care of life on an alien planet as meteors crash down upon it in different waves and patterns. Controls are simple — press the left side of the screen to spin the planet to the left, and likewise for the right. You’re aimed with making sure the meteorites hit the bare spots on the planet. Winner of The Great British Game Jam 2014, (R)evolve is a neat little game that’s worth a try for free; a $1 in-app purchase removes ads.

Nest’s Fadell talks about relationship with Steve Jobs

Nest founder and “father of the iPod” Tony Fadell is featured in a new Fortune profile that devotes plenty of time to his relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Fadell regrets that he never got to show Nest to Jobs. “I would have loved to have been able to show it to him, but the timing didn’t work,” he said.

The article describes the Jobs-Fadell relationship as alternating “between the father/son and school principal/naughty student archetypes,” with Fadell saying, “He thought I asked too many questions,” and Jobs often returning the favor. While it’s believed Jobs fired Fadell on numerous occasions, instead, Fadell says he “repeatedly quit.” The article notes that on at least two occasions, Fadell recanted his resignations, “having gotten his way each time.”

Starbucks, Duracell announce wireless Powermat in-store charging

Starbucks has announced it will roll out wireless charging in its stores by use of Duracell’s Powermat charging system. The rollout will begin in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston before expanding nationally into other Starbucks stores and Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bars. Locations can be tracked online. Stores will feature “Powermat Spots” — designated areas where compatible devices can be charged.

Powermat Spots use the PMA standard for wireless charging. At this point, iLounge has reviewed two cases that would work with the Powermat Spots — the Duracell PowerSnap Kit for iPhone 5 and Duracell PowerCase for iPhone 5/5s — in addition to a line of compatible GoPower Universal Batteries. Considering the few compatible cases for iPhone users, the appeal of the widespread Powermat Spots may be limited to relatively few Starbucks customers, although the alliance behind the standard does boast more than 70 members, including AT&T, Samsung, and other notable players.

Dev posts video of iOS 8 side-by-side apps

Developer Steven Troughton-Smith, who noted days ago that iOS 8 contained code for two apps to run side-by-side, has posted a YouTube video of the feature in action. Apparently manipulated using a two-finger gesture, an app is resized to create room for another app on the right side of the screen. It’s unclear if that same gesture will be used if or when the feature is eventually introduced.


The previous report noted that side-by-side apps could be run at 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 size. It’s believed the feature will only work on iPad, possibly even just the iPad Air.

Amazon intros streaming Prime Music with iOS app

Amazon has introduced Prime Music, a new unlimited, ad-free streaming music service featuring more than a million songs and “hundreds of playlists.” It comes free with an Amazon Prime subscription ($99), but is otherwise inaccessible. Users can download songs and playlists for offline playback, as well. Amazon’s Cloud Player iOS app has now become the Amazon Music app in version 3.0.0, and adds Prime Music functionality. 

At this point, we ran into a few issues with the app, as some Prime users were having trouble getting access. Also, it appears that only primary users of a Prime account can access the service using their own password — any shared, secondary users on someone else’s Prime account will have to use those primary credentials to access the service, as is the case with Amazon Instant Video. We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment, and will update if they respond.

Update: Amazon confirmed that only the primary account associated with a Prime membership can access Prime Music.

Parrot announces MiniDrone release dates, pricing

Parrot has announced availability and pricing for its two new MiniDrone products that originally debuted at CES 2014. Rolling Spider ($100) is an ultra-compact flying drone that can be used indoors or outside. It includes removable wheels that allow it to roll from floor to ceiling.

Jumping Sumo ($160) is the company’s first ground-based toy—a two-wheeled rover that can drive along, zig-zag and make zero radius turns and even jump up to 80cm in height. An integrated camera allows the user to see the world from Jumping Sumo’s perspective as it roams around. Both new devices will be available in August 2014, along with an updated version of the company’s FreeFlight app.

Update: We had a chance to meet with Parrot and get some more information and demos of both new MiniDrones at their media event in Toronto last night. The Rolling Spider will be available in three colours—blue, red, and white—and will include a set of twelve stickers for customization. The camera on the bottom of Rolling Spider can take snapshots that are stored in the drone’s 1GB on-board flash memory and can be transferred off via a micro-USB connection. Jumping Sumo will be available in black/red, white/black and khaki/yellow colour combinations and includes a set of three stickers to personalize its style or mood. Both devices work with the same rechargeable Lithium Polymer 550 mAH battery packs, so packs can be interchanged; Rolling Spider will get 6-8 minutes of use from a single charge while Jumping Sumo can roll about for up to 20 minutes on a full battery.

Apple responds to EU tax investigation

As expected, the European Commission today officially announced an investigation into Apple’s tax practices in Ireland. The EU is checking whether the deal, along with separate deals made by Starbucks and Fiat, qualifies as illegal state aid, Bloomberg reports.  “Apple pays every euro of every tax that we owe,” Apple responded in an e-mailed statement. “We have received no selective treatment from Irish officials. Apple is subject to the same tax laws as scores of other international companies doing business in Ireland.” Ireland’s Finance Ministry is “confident” that no state aid rules were breached.

Report: iPad Air 2 starts production this month with 8MP camera, A8 chip

  • June 11, 2014
  • iPad

Apple will begin producing displays for the new iPad Air this month, and other components for the device next month, Korean site ET News reports. The new device will reportedly feature an 8MP rear camera — a bump up from the current 5MP camera — and an improved processor, expected to be the A8 chip. It’s noted that the newest iPad Air will feature the same screen resolution and overall design as the previous Air. There’s no mention of Touch ID in the new report, though many expect Apple’s fingerprint scanner to be included. [via 9to5Mac]

New iPhone 6 4.7” leaks surface

Another set of photos of Apple’s alleged 4.7” iPhone 6 have surfaced, this time on the Weibo account of dreamerjimmy. Photos of both the front and back of the device are seen, shot next to an iPhone 5s for comparison.

The back of the device appears to match previous rear shell leaks, including a leak from a few days ago. It appears the front of the device is very close to matching a front panel leak, as well, although the camera hole seems to be a bit larger in this newest photo. [via 9to5Mac]

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