Happy holidays from iLounge! Our editorial staff is currently on Christmas break, and we will return Wednesday, Dec. 28, with new updates. In the meantime, check out our Best of the Year Awards for 2016 to help with last-minute and (post-holiday gift card) shopping. For anyone finding a new Apple device under the tree, our Tips archive should be of great help. Also be sure to check out our full review of Apple’s new, completely wireless AirPods.
Niantic has released an update to its popular Pokémon GO game for iOS devices, adding the promised support for Apple Watch. While players will still need to pull out their iPhone to hunt for Pokémon, the Apple Watch app allows users to perform many other in-game functions such as hatching eggs, viewing level progress status, receiving alerts of nearby Pokémon and PokéStops, and more. Users will also be able to start workouts from within the Pokémon GO Watch app, and view stats such as calories burned, distance walked, and items collected. A Watch Face Complication also provides status updates, such as how far the user needs to walk to hatch an egg.
Apple has debuted a major update to its web-based iCloud Photos app at iCloud.com, presenting a new user interface that more closely resembles the macOS Photos app. A new sidebar is enabled by default which provides more streamlined browsing of photo albums, although as in the corresponding macOS app, users can choose to toggle the sidebar off using a button at the top of the screen. Multiple photos can now be selected, and action buttons in the top-right corner will apply to all selected photos, allowing you to share, download, delete, or file several photos at a time; individual photos can also be organized into albums via drag-and-drop into the sidebar. Viewing an individual photo also now displays a carousel of thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, allowing you to quickly browse through other photos in the same album.
Notably, the new web Photos app doesn’t yet include the complete list of smart albums from the macOS and iOS versions, omitting such albums as People, Places, Selfies, and Depth Effect, and hasn’t yet added support for the new macOS Sierra and iOS 10 features such as memories, people, and places.
Earlier this week, Apple filed an antitrust lawsuit against two patent lawsuit companies affiliated with Nokia, The Street reports. In the filing, Apple accuses Acacia Research Corp. and Conversant Intellectual Property Management of colluding with Nokia “to extract and extort exorbitant revenues” from Apple and other mobile device manufacturers. Both of the named companies purchased portfolios of patents from Nokia after the Finnish company sold the majority of its cellphone business to Microsoft in 2013. In the suit, Apple claims that since Nokia has basically exited the cellphone business, it has become a company “bent on exploiting the patents that remain” in its portfolio. Further, since Nokia still retains a financial stake in the patents that it sold to Acacia and Conversant, Apple alleges that these two companies are “willing conspirators” that “have conspired with Nokia to use unfair and anticompetitive patent assertions to improperly tax the innovations of cell phone makers.”
Nokia has announced that it has filed several complaints against Apple in Germany and the U.S. alleging infringement of a number of Nokia patents. The patents in question cover what Nokia refers to as “fundamental technologies used in today’s mobile devices” such as display, user interface, software, antenna, chipsets, and video coding. A total of 32 patents are currently listed in the suit, and Nokia says it is in the process of filing “further actions” in other jurisdictions. Nokia claims that it has tried to reach an agreement with Apple for “several years” to license Apple’s use of the patents, and is now taking legal action as a last resort. According to Nokia’s announcement, Apple agreed to a license to cover some patents from the Nokia Technologies portfolio in 2011, but has “declined subsequent offers” by Nokia to license other patents that are “used by many of Apple’s products.”
Apple has released the first developer beta of watchOS 3.1.3, following of the first last week’s release iOS 10.2.1 and tvOS 10.1.1 betas. The sparse release notes suggest this latest watchOS release is focused primarily on bug fixes and other minor improvements, although it’s notable that this latest beta skips a minor version from last week’s public release of watchOS 3.1.1.
For the first time since the Apple Watch’s release last year, Apple is selling refurbished versions of the device on its website. Aluminum case 38mm Series 1 Apple Watches are selling for $229, or 14 percent off the standard price, with 42mm versions going for $20 more. Customers interested in the newer model can also get a stainless steel Series 2 watch from the refurbished site, with the 38mm costing $469 and the 42mm costing $509. As with all of Apple’s refurbished products, the company promises the product meets its usual quality standards and offers the same one-year warranty that comes with new devices.
In a statement posted on Nintendo’s website, the gamemaker confirms that Super Mario Run was downloaded more than 40 million times in its first four days, setting a new App Store record. The endless runner has roared to success despite mixed reviews — our own App Diary had mixed feelings, as well. The Wall Street Journal reports Nintendo shares have fallen more than 16 percent since the game’s launch, with investors citing concerns over Nintendo charging a one-time fee, rather than using an in-app purchase model like the one that made Pokémon GO so successful. While Super Mario Run is expected to generate $15 million in its first month, Pokémon GO made $100 million between July and September by adding additional paid content. While expanding the game to Android could make more money for Nintendo, a company spokesman confirmed there are no plans to release any additional content for the game, either free or paid.
Manufacturing documents allegedly leaked from Chinese suppliers claim Apple is working on releasing three iPhone models in 2017, with the deluxe version codenamed “Ferrari,” Chinese blog cnBeta reports. The documents—obtained from a Weibo user known to leak information from Apple’s supply chain—line up with previous rumors that Apple will be releasing a modestly updated iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus alongside a radically redesigned iPhone with an edge-to-edge OLED screen. The source claims the flashier model will feature a divided internal design, with a thinner two-tier motherboard connected to the Wi-Fi and cellular communications systems by a flexible cable to save space. The SIM card is also expected to move to the bottom of the device as we’ve previously seen in the iPad Pro, freeing up some room inside the case. [via Apple Insider]
Apple has released the second beta of iOS 10.2.1 to registered developers, which appears to be focused primarily on bug fixes and minor improvements. A corresponding tvOS 10.1.1 beta has not yet been released, and new watchOS betas remain conspicuously absent.
Apple’s Health app is asking users to send their data to a reporting program which will use the information to improve the company’s health-related offerings. If a user opts in, Apple will gain access to workout and activity information from their iPhone and Apple Watch, which the company says will be used to “understand the effectiveness of health and fitness features on Apple devices.” Apple claims the data won’t be used for any other purpose and that it won’t include any personally identifiable information. The company will also gather some location data and information about what other fitness apps are installed on a user’s devices.
Apple is now offering free next-day shipping on all in-stock items ordered before 2 p.m. on December 23, according to product pages on its website. Next-day service is typically reserved for iPhones—with most of the rest of Apple’s products shipping with two-day delivery—but in a bid for last-minute shoppers, the company is sending everything as fast as possible. For those in an even bigger rush who don’t mind braving the crowds, Apple also offers in-store pickup within an hour of an online purchase, provided the item is in stock.
Developer Mojang has brought its popular Minecraft game to Apple TV, according to a blog post on the game’s site. The game costs $20 and is rolling out in various regions today — we personally haven’t seen it yet, but it should be popping up sometime soon. For a limited time ,the company is including “the Holiday 2015, Town Folk, and City Folk skin packs, along with the Plastic, Natural, Cartoon, and Festive 2016 mash-ups” in that $20 purchase price. The Apple TV version doesn’t currently support Minecraft Realms or Xbox Live, but the company promises that future updates will add those features.
Apple has submitted its appeal of the EU’s $14 billion tax judgment, claiming the ruling ignores advice from tax experts and singles out Apple unfairly because of its success, Reuters reports. The European Commission said Apple paid substantially less than other companies in Ireland due to a preferential deal, ending up with a corporate tax rate of no more than 1 percent, while other companies pay around 12.5 percent. But Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell said the commission intentionally used a method to calculate the tax rate that would maximize the penalty and gain more media attention. “Apple is not an outlier in any sense that matters to the law,” Sewell said. “Apple is a convenient target because it generates lots of headlines.”
Niantic is still working on developing a Pokémon GO app for Apple Watch despite rumors that the company had scrapped it, TechCrunch reports. Niantic promised the Apple Watch version of Pokémon GO “by the end of the year,” but with the end of the year approaching, an alleged email from a Niantic customer service agent appeared on Reddit, claiming the “port for the Apple Watch has been shelved” due to low demand. But Niantic quickly debunked the rumor, confirming that the Reddit image was a fake and adding that, “Development on Pokémon GO continues, as it has since before the Apple announcement.” No firm date has been offered, but the Pokémon GO Twitter page says an Apple Watch app is “coming soon.”
Sources claiming to be familiar with Apple’s design plans say the upcoming flagship “iPhone 8” will feature a curved plastic OLED screen, The Korea Herald reports. The sources said Samsung can produce just under 100 million of the curved screens for Apple, which would necessitate the move to plastic, since glass OLED displays are typically only used in flat panels. The phones aren’t expected to be foldable because of rigid internal components, but the source floated the possibility that Apple could set itself apart from other OLED phones by adding “new sensing technology, which enables the phone to respond when users touch any side of the device.” Display suppliers LG and JDI are expected to round out Apple’s screen orders next year, supplying the flat LCD screens for the remaining 2017 iPhone lineup. LG is said to be working on supplying Apple with foldable OLED screens, but that arrangement isn’t expected to begin until 2018.
Nintendo’s Super Mario Run has hit 2.85 million downloads in its first day of availability, The Verge reports. Citing data from analytics firm Apptopia, the report notes that Super Mario Run easily beats Pokémon Go, which broke the record in July with 900,000 downloads on the first day. However, Pokémon Go still holds first place for total first-week downloads — although Apple declined to divulge how many times Pokémon Go was downloaded in its first seven days, it did jump to 5.6 million downloads by day three.
Capcom has announced plans to bring its classic Mega Man series to the iOS platform. The game is expected to initially launch in Japan on Jan. 6, 2017, and will include Mega Man 1 through 6 in a single title. It’s unclear when — or if — the game will be released outside of Japan. [via TouchArcade]
Apple has added 21 new Aerial screensavers for the fourth-generation Apple TV, with scenery from five new locations, including Greenland, Dubai, Hong Kong, Liwa (UAE), and Los Angeles. Three new scenes from China have also been added. With the exception of Liwa and China, all of the new locations include both day and night scenery. tvOS downloads new screensaver footage on a cyclical basis according to whichever schedule you have set, so users may not see the new screensavers for a while, depending on their download schedule; users can view all of the screensavers at iDownloadBlog, which discovered the new entries and has published a list of links to stream the footage directly from Apple’s servers.
A new report from South Korean IT News site ETNews claims that LG Display has come to an agreement with Apple to begin mass-producing and supplying foldable OLED displays beginning in 2018. Although several rumors have pointed to Apple producing at least one OLED iPhone model next year, Apple is reported to be testing multiple prototypes, and current plans suggest a curved, rather than a foldable display. Current speculation on an OLED iPhone model suggests that Samsung would be the current supplier, so any deal with LG for foldable displays may simply be part of a longer-term strategy for Apple. [via MacRumors]