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App Mix: Time Crisis, CardStar, Photo fx, Easycontact

Namco has released Time Crisis Strike, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar to the popular Time Crisis arcade games, Strike uses a duck-and-shoot design, allowing users to tap on the screen to fire and tilt the iPhone or iPod touch to duck, take cover, and reload. The game offers two game modes—Arcade Mode and Crisis Missions—and is available now from the App Store for $6.

Mesa Dynamics has released its new CardStar application for the iPhone and iPod touch. CardStar is a personal “rewards” and “club” card manager, letting users enter and store their membership information for items such as grocery and pharmacy discount cards, travel reward cards, and more. The app currently offers a merchant list of over 100 U.S. companies in six categories, advanced options for adding cards not included in the merchant list, and the ability to access any account directly from the main CardStar screen. CardStar is available now and sells for $1.

The Tiffen Company, a photography accessory manufacturer and distributor, has announced Photo fx, a special iPhone and iPod touch version of its Tiffen Dfx Digital Filter Creative Effects software. Photo fx features 26 different filters and effects, each with slider controls, as well as 27 different film looks that can be applied to existing photos or new pics shot with the iPhone’s built-in camera. Photo fx is available now and sells for $3.

Tapinoma has released Easycontact, its new contact sharing application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Easycontact allows users to share their address book contacts individually or in groups with others via email, or directly via Wi-Fi or Audio if the recipient is also an Easycontact user. Easycontact is available now from the App Store and sells for $3.

Orange loses appeal to regain iPhone exclusivity

France Telecom’s Orange brand has failed to regain its iPhone exclusivity in France after the Paris Appeal Court confirmed a French Competition Council ruling that the exclusivity agreement with Apple was to be suspended. The Competition Council previously said that the five-year deal was “clearly excessive” and that it risked “serious and immediate damage to competition on the mobile market and to consumers.” France Telecom, which has argued the watchdog had “put the market economy into question”, told Reuters it was “surprised” at the failure of its appeal and will now appeal to France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation.

Photo of the Week: iPhone 3G in St. Martin

This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone 3G watching planes fly over Sunset Beach on the island of Saint Martin. To share your photos and to be considered for our Photo of the Week, you simply need to submit your own photo to one of our galleries. So get out there, take some pictures with your iPod or iPhone, and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!

Four new suits filed against Apple over iPhone 3G speeds

Apple has been sued four times over the last two weeks over poor 3G performance. Complaints filed in Florida, New Jersey, and Texas all claim that the iPhone 3G suffers from both 3G performance issues that result in dropped network connections and hairline cracks in its casing, while a separate case in California omits the cracking issue, focusing solely on 3G problems. Interestingly, the California suit is the only one which does not name U.S. iPhone carrier AT&T as well as Apple. All four lawsuits allege that Apple knowingly marketed the phone without disclosing the performance issues and seek damages, while the Florida and New Jersey suits seek to stop the companies from continuing “false and misleading advertising,” the California suit seeks the return of all profits Apple received plus interest, and the Texas suit seeks for the return of all profits gained by “misleading” advertising as well as a disclaimer to be put on the product’s packaging.

The four suits represent the latest entries in an ongoing string of legal battles between AT&T and Apple and iPhone 3G owners, many of which have made claims similar to those found in these complaints. Testing of the iPhone 3G showed the handset to be “completely normal” in terms of its ability to receive 3G signals, however, network speeds and reliability have varied dramatically from location to location in other tests, with AT&T network differences apparently to blame. Apple has previously contended that “no reasonable person” would have taken the company’s “twice as fast for half the price” slogan at face value.

Updated: A request for reader comments on iPhone 3G lawsuits, service, and warranty issues has been posted.

iPhone 3G in UAE this month, new iPhone in June

The iPhone 3G will launch in the United Arab Emirates on February 15, according to an Emirates Business 24/7 report. Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat announced in a local newspaper that it would be brining the iPhone to the region this month; the launch date was later confirmed by Mark Davis, Program Director for iPhone at Etisalat. Davis went on to explain that iPhone users who have already obtained an unlocked handset through third-party channels will also be welcome to use Etisalat’s service. Etisalat has reportedly been working on the project for two years and finally signed an agreement with Apple at the end of 2008. “It is a long process to get approved by Apple as they only want one operator in every country. We passed the test mainly because of our market capitalisation, retail presence and deep pockets and the demographics.” Curiously, the report also states that the next version of the iPhone is “due out in June,” and while it doesn’t attribute this information directly to Davis, there is a strong possibility the date came from him, as his interview serves as the basis for the story.

Update: Feb. 20, 2009 Etisalat’s Mobily brand will offer the iPhone 3G in Saudi Arabia, and is now allowing customers to reserve a handset through its website. Plans and pricing have yet to be announced.

Update: February 23, 2009 Etisalat has launched the iPhone 3G in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia through its Mobily brand. In the UAE, the 8GB model will be offered for free with the most expensive, 643 AED (roughly $175) monthly plan, which includes 500 minutes of talk time, 300 SMS texts, and 2000 MB of data. Handset pricing increases with lesser plans, from 560 AED (~$152) with a 504 AED (~$137) monthly plan, to 840 AED (~$229) with a 349 AED (~$95) monthly plan, and finally to 2,646 AED (~$720) with a 199 AED (~$54) monthly plan. The 16GB model is priced similarly, with prices ranging from 375 AED (~$102) with the most expensive plan to 3,090 AED (~$841) with the least expensive.

Pricing in Saudi Arabia is less dependent on plans, with the 16GB model priced at 2,650 SRI (~$707) and the 8GB at 2,255 SRI (~$602) with a 99 SRI ($26) monthly plan. The iPhone 3G will also be available for prepaid customers, selling for 2,800 SRI (~$748) for the 16GB model and 2,400 SRI (~$640) for the 8GB.

Laminar Research intros X-Plane Extreme for iPhone, iPod touch

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Laminar Research has released X-Plane Extreme, its fourth flight simulation application for the iPhone and iPod touch. In X-Plane Extreme, players can choose between the F-22 Raptor, the SR-71 Blackbird, the B-1 “Bone” Bomber, and the B-2 Bomber. To handle the advanced capabilities of these planes, Extreme offers desktop-level flight modeling, with speeds from zero to Mach-3 plus, and altitudes up to 100,000 feet, along with AI-controlled planes that fly in the same zone, challenging the player to keep up. X-Plane Extreme is available now from the App Store and sells for $10.

Sandlot Games releases Cake Mania 3 for Click Wheel iPods

  • February 3, 2009
  • iPod

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Sandlot Games has released its Cake Mania 3 game for the fifth-generation iPod, iPod classic, third- and fourth-generation iPod nano, the first Click Wheel iPod game for be released in 2009. In the game, players must travel through time baking cakes and serving tea and cookies to guests while trying to achieve daily cash goals. The game offers over 80 levels, more than 20 characters, six different bakeries, and six different eras in which to work, as well as the ability to customize the bakery with new equipment to meet increasing demand. Cake Mania 3 is available now from the iTunes Store and sells for $5.

iPhone Software 2.2.1 causing iTunes crashes

A large number of iPhone users are reporting on Apple’s discussion boards that iTunes crashes upon trying to sync after installation of Software 2.2.1. Interestingly, the crashes do not appear isolated to the iPhone, as some users have reported that iTunes will crash when trying to sync an iPod as well; others have said that the failed syncs have left them with corrupted audio files on the iPhone. Some users have suggested the problem lies with Apple’s DRM, as they have been able to successfully sync all non-DRM’d content. In addition, at least two iPhone users reported being able to sync after downloading application updates through iTunes, however, it is unknown whether this workaround will work for all affected users.

iLounge announces Vestalife 5&5 Speaker Giveaway

iLounge is pleased to announce the Vestalife 5&5 Giveaway, our Giveaway of the Month for February. In this month’s giveaway, ten lucky readers will win a Vestalife speaker system, with five winners receiving Ladybugs and five receiving Butterfly systems. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on February 28, 2009 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Winners of Speck SeeThru Case Giveaway announced

The winners of our Speck SeeThru Case Giveaway have just been announced. In the giveaway, 50 iLounge readers won Speck SeeThru cases for the iPhone 3G and fourth-generation iPod nano. Congratulations to all the winners! Don’t forget to enter our Vestalife 5&5 Speaker Giveaway, our Giveaway of the Month for February.

Mix: Apple v. labels, ComScore, iPhoto ‘09 bug, Duck Hunt removed

  • February 2, 2009

The major music labels “operated in fear” of Apple’s removing them from the iTunes Store during the latest round of negotiations leading to the company’s Jan. 6 announcement of variable pricing and DRM-free sales, a new report suggests. Citing high-level music executives, the New York Times reports that Apple’s primary goal during the negotiations was to secure over-the-air music downloads for iPhone users, and that Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, chairman of Sony Music, had a particularly terse discussion on Christmas Eve over the rollout schedule for variable pricing on the store. Apart from Apple’s dominant share of online music sales, the labels are also wary of the power of the iTunes Store front page, which former Epic Records president Charlie Walk described as “a very powerful thing right now in American pop culture,” adding that it “immediately validates a hit song.”

The iPhone leads all cell phones in mobile gaming, according to a new ComScore report. iPhone owners accounted for 14 percent of mobile game downloaders in November, with four of the top 10 phones used for games being iPhones. The 8GB iPhone 3G was ranked first, followed by the 8GB iPhone at the number two spot, the 16GB iPhone 3G in third, and the 16GB iPhone in seventh. In addition, 32.4 percent of all iPhone users said they downloaded a game in November, compared with a market average of 3.8 percent. [via Atlanta Business Chronicle]

A small number of iPhoto ‘09 users are reporting difficulties in syncing photos to the iPhone and Apple TV following installation of the updated photo management program. According to an Apple Discussions post, photo albums from iPhoto ‘09 do not appear in the Photos tab in iTunes, and syncing photos to either device results in an “unknown error (-50).” One user reports that he was able to successfully sync his devices after unchecking the “Sync photos from iPhoto” option. iLounge editors have been unable to recreate the issue, suggesting that the bug may affect only a limited number of users.

Duck Hunt, a $1 port of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System game, has been removed from the App Store at the request of Nintendo, which is claiming copyright infringement. The game was a copy of the Nintendo NES Zapper game, using nearly identical game art and sounds. The developer, Lucas Mansfield, says he plans to continue updating the game, albeit with different artwork and audio.

Goldgenie unveils Elton John Starburst iPod nanos

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Goldgenie has introduced the new Elton John AIDS Foundation Starburst iPod nano. These customized fourth-generation iPod nano units feature color coordinated Swarovski crystals embedded into surface, as well as John’s signature laser engraved onto the rear. In addition, each Starburst nano also includes “The Rocket Man: The Definitive Collection CD.” Limited to only 100 of each color and capacity, proceeds from sales of these limited-edition units will help raise funds which will go towards helping the millions of HIV and AIDS sufferers worldwide. The Elton John AIDS Foundation Starburst iPod nanos are available for pre-order now for £348 (~$495) for 8GB models and £392 (~$557) for 16GB units. The Starburst iPod nano is expected to begin shipping on February 9.

Adobe CEO: Apple ‘collaborating’ on Flash for iPhone

Apple is collaborating with Adobe in an effort to bring Flash to the iPhone, according to a statement made by Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen at the recent World Economic Forum. “It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating,” Narayen said. “The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs has previously said Adobe needed to create a third version of Flash, as he deemed the full Flash player “too slow” on the iPhone, but the Lite version too stripped-down. It is unclear from Narayen’s statement exactly how Apple might be helping the company in this process, or how exactly the software will work once completed.

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