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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

Fitbit pulls, recalls Force fitness tracker

Fitbit has issued a voluntary recall of its Fitbit Force Wireless Activity & Sleep Wristband. The company has also pulled the fitness tracker from the market — Fitbit’s Force webpage notes the product is “currently not available for purchase.” Fitbit is citing skin irritation as the reason for the Force’s recall and removal from the market.

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A letter from Fitbit CEO and co-founder James Park claims “only 1.7 percent of Force users have reported any type of skin irritation.” Park points out that Force contains commonly used materials, but “some users may be reacting to the nickel present in the surgical grade stainless steel used in the device. Other users are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to the materials used in the strap or the adhesives used to assemble the product.” FitBit is offering a refund of the device’s full retail price, and the company has set up a page dedicated to the recall. [via TechCrunch]

iLounge Game Spotlight: Tengami

The long-awaited Tengami ($5) has finally reached the App Store. Created by Nyamyam, an independent developer founded by former Rare employees, Tengami is described as “an atmospheric adventure game set inside a Japanese pop-up book.” Rated 4+, the game has no in-app purchases and no advertisements.

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As expected, Tengami is a beautiful game, as it looks like a real hand-crafted pop-up book in motion. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the aesthetics of Tengami are pretty undeniable for an iOS game. Players can fold and slide pages of the intricate book while guiding the character past waterfalls and wolves. The soundtrack from David Wise and sparse sound effects only add to the enjoyable, soothing experience.

Apple acquires TestFlight parent company Burstly

  • February 21, 2014
  • Apple

Apple has acquired Burstly, the parent company of mobile app testing platform TestFlight, according to TechCrunch. Burstly also makes SkyRocket, an in-app management platform for ads. Notably, TestFlight recently announced it would be terminating Android support. Apple, which confirmed the acquisition with Re/code, could be looking to improve its own beta testing platform with the purchase.

Apple releases iOS 7.0.6

Apple has released iOS 7.0.6 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The 35.4 MB security update provides a fix for SSL connection verification.

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iOS 7.0.6 is available now over-the-air.

Update: Apple has also released Apple TV Software Update 6.0.2. According to the company’s support page, this update addresses SSL issues as well. Apple TV Software Update 6.0.02 is available now for second- and third- generation Apple TVs via the Software Update feature of the Apple TV’s Settings menu.

Steve Jobs postage stamp arriving in 2015

  • February 21, 2014
  • Apple

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs will be the subject of a commemorative USPS postage stamp in 2015. A list of stamps obtained by The Washington Post reveals a Jobs stamp is coming next year. The stamp is already in design development, according to the obtained document.

Apps: Google Translate 2.1, Second Chance Heroes, Venmo 4.7 + Zen Pinball 1.15

Google’s Google Translate (free) has updated to version 2.1.0 with native iOS 7 support, bringing a new keyboard and status bar. The app also adds handwriting input for more languages — Arabic, Esperanto, Gujarati, Hebrew, Javanese, Maltese, Maori, Marathi, Persian, Punjabi, Telugu, and Zulu. Google Translate currently supports translation of 80 languages.

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Second Chance Heroes (free) from Rocket City Studios is a frantic action game in which you fend off zombies, werewolves, and other enemies while controlling a chainsaw-wielding Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, Nikola Tesla, and other historical figures. This kind of trope has been overdone in recent years, but Second Chance Heroes stands on its own, especially with the twist of tag team gameplay for swapping characters mid-game. The game supports both single player and multiplayer, and though there are in-app purchases, they never feel invasive.

Apple ID two-step verification comes to Canada, France, more

Apple has introduced two-step verification for Apple IDs in a number of countries today, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain. The countries that can currently use the optional two-step verification feature for Apple IDs are listed in an Apple support document. Two-step verification can be activated via the My Apple ID website. Apple first debuted the service last March. [via 9to5Mac]

Tesla CEO Musk verifies Apple meeting; acquisition ‘unlikely’

  • February 20, 2014
  • Apple

Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed in a Bloomberg interview that his company did meet with Apple’s acquistions chief, but said a sale of Tesla was “unlikely.” A recent report noted Apple’s mergers and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica met with Musk. “We had conversations with Apple, I can’t comment on whether those revolved around any kind of acquisition,” Musk said. He said any acquisition of Tesla could distract the company from focusing on creating a compelling mass market electric car, which would make a sale unlikely. 

Musk noted any scenario that would make it easier to produce such an electric car could make a Tesla acquisition possible, but he doesn’t foresee such a development. When asked what he would tell Apple if the Cupertino company wanted to make cars, Musk said, “I’d probably tell them that I think it’s a great idea.” Tesla recently confirmed plans for its battery “Gigafactory” — there’s speculation that Apple could partner with Tesla in the new battery plant. [via GigaOM]

GBA4iOS 2.0 Game Boy emulator released

GBA4iOS has released version 2.0 of its Game Boy simulator on its website. The free download lets users play a number of Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy games on their iPhone or iPad, with a built-in browser giving users the option to download more ROMs. GBA4iOS 2.0 can run on any iOS device running iOS 7 or higher, and no jailbreak is required.

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The non-App Store download appears to rely on a certificate issued through Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program and could therefore still potentially be disabled by Apple. Installation is quick and simple, but be sure to read the site’s FAQ, and be aware of any privacy and security risks involved with installing such software. [via MacRumors]

Apple bringing iTunes Festival to US

Apple has announced it is bringing the iTunes Festival to the U.S. for the first time. The event — which previously has only taken place in London — will be held at SXSW in Austin, Texas, from March 11-15, at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Pitbull, Keith Urban, and ZEDD have already been announced as acts. All five nights of the event will be able to watch as a free stream on the iTunes Store, and the iTunes Festival app will offer HD streaming to iOS devices and Apple TV.

Apps: Dinosaur Train A to Z, Intro to Letters 2.0, Pinball Arcade 3.3 + Yahoo Fantasy Sports 5.4

Dinosaur Train A to Z ($2) from PBS Kids uses characters from the show Dinosaur Train to teach kids about 26 different dinosaurs — one for each letter of the alphabet. Children can feed the dinosaurs, explore x-rays, and learn more than 50 facts. Additional dinosaur packs can also be purchased. The app is narrated by Mr. Conductor, who fans of the show know is a Troodon. That’s right, T is for Troodon in this app, not Tyrannosaurus Rex. Dinosaur Train isn’t afraid of getting a bit obscure.

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Montessorium’s Intro to Letters ($10) has been completely redesigned for iOS 7 in version 2.0. The Montessori-based letter-learning app has also added a new feature, Recording Studio. In Recording Studio, adults can record, save and use their own voiceovers to teach their children the letters. As the app’s description claims, “You learn best from the ones that you love.” The app is currently $5 for a limited time.

AirPlay Recorder allows iTunes Radio ripping

Continuing its longtime anti-DRM campaign, doubleTwist has released AirPlay Recorder ($10), a Mac app that enables real-time iTunes recording for offline use. iTunes Radio tracks can effectively be ripped by using the app, which appears as an AirPlay device in iTunes.

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AirPlay Recorder for Mac is only available on doubleTwist’s website. The free version of the app allows for 10-second sample recordings, while the full version costs $10.

Reports: Apple has talked with Tesla, Basis Science

According to recent reports, Apple has spoken to a few companies, possibly regarding acquisitions. Apple’s mergers and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica reportedly spoke to Tesla CEO Elon Musk “last Spring.” Both Tesla and Apple declined comment, though it has been speculated that the companies might collaborate in some way on a domestic rechargeable battery production facility. The same report noted that Apple is exploring “sensor technology that can help predict heart attacks.” Apple audio engineer Tomlinson Holman, the inventor of THX and 10.2 surround sound, is “exploring ways to predict heart attacks by studying the sound blood makes as it flows through arteries.” Such a technology would likely come into play in Apple’s iWatch, if at all — a recent report suggested that iWatch sensors won’t be as advanced as some expect.

Another report notes Basis Science, maker of the Basis Health Tracker Watch, has spoken to companies including Apple and Google about a potential sale. Considering that Apple is working on its own fitness tracking watch, if the company had any prospective interest in Basis, it would likely involve incorporating the watch’s tracking technology into its own upcoming device. A Basis representative said the company doesn’t comment on “rumor or speculation.” [via San Francisco Chronicle, TechCrunch]

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Happy Presidents’ Day from all of us at iLounge! We’ll be on a limited publication schedule today in observance of Presidents’ Day, and Family Day in Canada — we will return to normal updates on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Have a great day!

iLounge Game Spotlight: Patrick Kane’s Winter Games

Patrick Kane’s Winter Games ($3), a new Olympic hockey game from Distinctive Games, hit the App Store in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The game is named for USA Hockey and Chicago Blackhawks player Patrick Kane. With his name headlining a video game, Kane joins a very select group of hockey players, which includes the likes of Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.

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iOS sports games are often at a disadvantage from the start. Sure, they’re inexpensive, but the experience can’t compete with console sports simulation games, which benefit from precise controls, deeper strategies, and official league licensing, among a host of other features. Patrick Kane’s Winter Games tries to bridge the gap between arcade and simulation sports gaming, with mixed results.

Patents: Apple, Samsung can’t agree; Schiller to be witness

  • February 14, 2014
  • Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Samsung mobile chief JK Shin last week about settling the companies’ legal battle over intellectual property, but ZDNet Korea reports the executives failed to reach an agreement. There was a February 19 deadline for mediation talks; it’s unlikely any further negotiations will occur before that date. The two companies are expected to return to court next month, and Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller will be called to testify again, according to a report. Samsung may also call on former Apple SVP of iOS Software Scott Forstall to testify. [via The Verge, PC World]

Apps: PolyFauna, R-Type II, Threes! + Wake Up Mo

PolyFauna is a new app from Radiohead — yes, the band Radiohead. The free app has an expectedly vague description. Basically, you hear clips from “Bloom” off the group’s 2011 album The King of Limbs while guiding yourself through a strange, open landscape. Touching the screen creates different textures as you swoop around. Following the red dot will take you to new areas. It’s a very Radiohead kind of app.

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DotEmu has brought R-Type II ($2) to the App Store. The classic side-scrolling shooter from 1989 has proven hard to come by over the years, with various versions not quite the same as the original arcade game. R-Type II comes with the original features — six levels with bosses, and the same weapons and upgrades. But players can upgrade to improved graphics, choose between three difficulty levels, change the screen ratio, and more. The game supports iOS 7 controllers, as well.

Twelve South intros Compass 2 iPad stand

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Twelve South has introduced its new stand, Compass 2 for iPad ($40), the sequel to 2011’s Compass Mobile Stand. Compass 2 is a metal stand with new dimensions for holding iPad Air and iPad mini, in addition to past iPads. The stand is made to work in either portrait or landscape mode.

Compass 2 includes a rear locking leg and secondary leg that folds down for a comfortable typing angle. It is available now in black, red, or silver.

Report: Apple to discontinue iPad 2

Apple is expected to discontinue its iPad 2 “in the near future,” according to AppleInsider. Sources said the decision was made to decrease production as customers are “resoundingly” buying more of the iPad Air and iPad mini. The second-generation iPad is currently the only $399 full-sized iPad option on the market, with only the 16GB model offered at this point — the 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular version is also sold for $529. Released in March 2011, iPad 2 is also the only remaining Dock Connector iPad still sold by Apple. It’s believed the iPad 2 has remained in Apple’s product lineup due to its popularity in the education market.

Apple releases 2014 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report

  • February 13, 2014
  • Apple

Apple has released its annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report for 2014. The report says Apple confirmed in January that “all active, identified tantalum smelters in our supply chain were verified as conflict-free by third party auditors, and we’re pushing our suppliers of tin, tungsten, and gold just as hard to use verified sources.” Apple drew criticism last year for its tin mining practices — the company reacted by launching a “fact-finding visit” to Bangka Island, Indonesia. This year’s report notes that Apple has worked with groups to develop the Indonesian Tin Working Group, “whose goal is to explore how its members can help resolve the environmental and social challenges of tin mining on Bangka and Belitung Islands while also supporting the economic benefits of a robust mining trade.”

Also within the report, Apple says it drove suppliers to achieve “an average of 95 percent compliance” with the maximum 60-hour workweek, and more than 1 million workers were tracked in the program. The company found 14 facilities had excessive recruiting fees — suppliers were required to pay back excess foreign contract worker fees, equaling $3.9 million in 2013. Apple found a total of 11 active underage labor cases, “significantly fewer than the previous year.” The company has also launched a Clean Water Program pilot for 13 water-intensive sites — Apple has previously drawn criticism for its suppliers polluting nearby rivers. The full Supplier Responsibility Progress Report is here.

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