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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

App Mix: Today Show, Mini Golf, Cooking Star, AliceX

NBC’s Todayshow.com has released the official Today Show application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Zumobi, the app offers video and audio clips from the show, top stories and photos form popular Today topics, including health, food and wine, entertainment, relationships, and fashion. The Today Show application is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Digital Chocolate has released Mini Golf 99 Holes Theme Park, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. The game offers players five different characters, each with their own secret power, four unique courses, a total of 99 holes, and obstacles such as bumpers, teleporters, and spring jumps. Mini Golf 99 Holes Theme Park is available now from the App Store and sells for $5; a free Lite version is also available.

Glu Mobile has released its Cooking Star game for the iPhone and iPod touch. In Cooking Star, players are asked to solve a varied set of cooking puzzles using multi-touch- and accelerometer-based controls, such as flipping kebabs, stirring soups, slicing ingredients, mixing salad, and more. Users who achieve five-star proficiency in the eight mini-games can unlock real recipes to build their cookbook; Glu Mobile also promises that new mini-games will be added periodically. Cooking Star is available now for $3.

Mac developer Steve Capps, under the company name onedoto, has released AliceX, a new iPhone and iPod touch game created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Mac. AliceX is inspired by Through the Looking Glass, a game Capps wrote for the original Mac while working for Apple; the title also has the distinction of being the only game Apple ever sold for the Macintosh. Based loosely on the rules of chess, the game puts Alice on a chess board with the objective of capturing all of the opposing pieces, and Alice begins playing as a queen but eventually moves to acting like a pawn in later levels. In total, the game offers 96 levels in four speed groups, and players must score at least 750 points to advance to the next level. AliceX is available now from the App Store and sells for $2. [via Mac Rumors]

Ngmoco previews upcoming title Star Defense

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Ngmoco has released details of its upcoming Star Defense game for the iPhone and iPod touch. A tower defense-style game, Star Defense puts players in the shoes of a starship captain, who must secure and defend an entire galaxy, consisting of seven unique worlds, each with distinct path layouts, enemy types and immunities, and weapon choices. Features include 15 weapon types, each with specific attributes, the ability to earn medals and commendations, five upgradeable tower types, three difficulty levels, and 3D environments. Star Defense is currently in development and is expected to launch in early May.

AT&T offering $150 refurbished 16GB iPhone 3G

AT&T has cut its price on refurbished 16GB iPhone 3G units, dropping the price by $50 to $150, or a savings of $150 off a new unit. In February, AT&T lowered its pricing on refurbished iPhone 3Gs to $99 (from $149) for 8GB models and $199 (from $249) for 16GB units; the pricing on 8GB models remains unchanged from this prior drop. As with new iPhone 3Gs, the refurbished units require a two-year contract, and AT&T notes that all refurbished iPhones carry a warranty of 90 days or more and may have “minor scratches.” [via Dealmac]

Belkin intros Micro, Dual Auto Chargers for iPod, iPhone

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Belkin has introduced its new iPod- and iPhone-compatible Micro Auto Charger and Dual Auto Charger. The Micro Auto Charger features a compact design that sits nearly flush with a car’s dashboard, a lip for easy removal, and 1 amp charging. It will be available in early May bundled with a Charge and Sync Cable for iPod and iPhone for $20, or by itself for $15. The Dual Auto Charger features two USB ports, one port running at 1A for fast charging, the other at 500mA, and includes a three-foot charge and sync cable for the iPod and iPhone. It is available now and sells for $30.

iPod touch, iPhone become military tools

Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch are becoming the electronic handheld devices of choice for U.S. military overseas, according to a new report. Newsweek reports that the iPod touch, and to a lesser extent the iPhone, are gaining popularity thanks to their relatively low cost compared to custom-designed mil-spec devices, their ruggedness when sheathed in protective cases, and their versatility. Since both devices can run a myriad of different apps, many government agencies are funding development of new software. The Pentagon is funding the technology behind an app that would allow a soldier to take a picture of a street sign and quickly receive intelligence on the local area, while the U.S. Marine Corps is funding an application that would allow soldiers to upload photos of detained suspects to a centralized, biometric database, which could then be used to match faces and make it easier to track suspects once they’ve been released. Other software includes an app that would display aerial video from drones, a bomb-disposal robot remote control app, the ballistics calculator BulletFlight, currently in use by snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Vcommunicator, a spoken and written translator. An iPod “may be all that [soldiers] need,” says Lt. Col. Jim Ross, director of the Army’s intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors operations in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. The Pentagon has not disclosed how many Apple devices are currently deployed.

Apple posts iPhone developer video profiles

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On the official website for its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference 2009 event, Apple has posted four new video profiles of various iPhone developers, explaining how the iPhone OS and SDK altered their views on what was possible on a mobile platform, and how it has affected their development processes. Included in the profiles are Dr. Ge Wang of Smule, developer of Ocarina, Werner Jainek of Cultured Code, developer of Things, Steve Demeter of Demiforce, developer of Trism, and Christina Wick of AOL, which has a variety of apps on the store, including AIM. Apple’s WWDC 2009 conference is scheduled for June 8-12 at Moscone West in San Francisco. [via TUAW]

New iPhone poll ends, exclusivity polls begins

With over 2,900 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll—“Do you think you’ll purchase a new iPhone when it’s released in June or July?”—has ended. Readers were given choices including yes, they had been holding out for a new model and will buy it no matter what, yes, they’ve bought both prior models and plan on continuing to buy each new iPhone, yes, but only if it includes significant hardware improvements, or yes, but only if it’s smaller or less expensive than previous models. Negative responses included no, they’ve just purchased an iPhone 3G and/or will otherwise not be eligible for upgrade pricing, no, they’re happy with their current phone/service provider, and no, they don’t have any interest in cell phones.

Over half—57%—of responding readers indicated that they hoped to purchase a new iPhone when it’s released, though there was a major split based on different release scenarios. A solid 16% said that they’ve been holding out for the new iPhone and will purchase it no matter what, and 8% said that they’ve purchased both prior models and plan to continue this time. However, 28% said that they will buy a new iPhone only if the new model includes significant hardware improvements, while 5% said their purchase depends on a smaller or less expensive model being introduced. Another 23% of readers said they wouldn’t be purchasing the next iPhone because they just purchased the iPhone 3G and won’t be eligible for upgrade pricing, 16% said they were happy with their current phone and service provider, and, finally, 4% said they have no interest in cell phones. Thanks for all your responses!

Our new poll focuses on iPhone exclusivity agreements. We’d like to know: do you think Apple should abandon iPhone carrier exclusivity in your country? Would you like to use the iPhone on a different GSM carrier, or would you like to use it on a different, non-GSM carrier, which would require Apple to make a different model? Or do you think the exclusivity agreement is fine, or is the iPhone not exclusive to one carrier in your country, or simply not offered at all, or do you not care about the iPhone, no matter who offers it? Our new poll, “Should Apple abandon iPhone carrier exclusivity in your country?” lets you answer that question. You can find the iLounge Poll in the left hand column of the main iLounge.com home page. Vote today!

iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter, coming later today

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iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter recapping the last seven days in iPod, iPhone, iTunes and Apple TV news, articles, reviews, and more, will be sent out later today. In addition to rounding up the week’s top stories, iPodweek also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. If you haven’t yet signed up to receive iPodweek, there’s still time to register and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address.

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Verizon: Apple more likely to offer VZ a 4G iPhone

Speaking in an interview with Total Telecom, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg made several comments regarding the iPhone in relation to his company’s network. According to the article, Seidenberg said Apple never really considered making a CDMA version of the iPhone, because it didn’t have as wide a distribution opportunity, adding that he thought Apple would be more likely to bring the iPhone to Verizon in the U.S. once both it and AT&T had transitioned to Long Term Evolution (LTE), also known as 4G, networks. Seidenberg also used the interview as an opportunity to lash out at rival Sprint Nextel, which plans to offer the iPhone rival Palm Pre, and has been offering $50 and $100 unlimited service plans under its Boost mobile and Sprint brands. “I don’t know what Sprint thinks it is,” Seidenberg said, claiming that it would eventually “self-destruct” as the need for capital investment in the network increases.

SwitchEasy debuts ChocoShuffle case for iPod shuffle 3G

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SwitchEasy has introduced its new ChocoShuffle case for the third-generation iPod shuffle. Made from silicone, the ChocoShuffle features a chocolate bar-style design, with openings for the device’s headphone port, power switch, and rear metal clip. Available now in chocolate, white chocolate (cream), or strawberry chocolate (pink), SwitchEasy’s ChocoShuffle for iPod shuffle 3G sells for $9.

For more information on the ChocoShuffle, see our First Looks article.

Sumajin intros Loop Silicone Case for iPod shuffle 3G

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Sumajin has introduced its Loop Silicone Case for the third-generation iPod shuffle. Made from high-quality, 1.2mm-thick silicone, the Loop case offers open access to the shuffle’s rear clip and headphone port, and flip-up protection for the power switch. Available in clear, black, pink, blue, green, red, and glow-in-the-dark, Sumajin’s Loop Silicone Case for the iPod shuffle 3G comes in packs of two and is available now for $12.50.

App Mix: Cosmic Nitro, World Series, Undercover, Coupon Sherpa

Galcon has released Cosmic Nitro, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. In the game, which is based on the classic Atari game Missile Command, players must tap on the screen to “blast” enemies, with a shield option that can be deployed by swiping across the screen. Features include five different enemies, nine levels, an “apocalypse” mode, a secret level, high score tracking, and more. Cosmic Nitro is available now from the App Store and sells for $1.

MLB.com has released MLB World Series 2009, its first game for the iPhone and iPod touch. The only game for iPhone and iPod touch featuring all 30 Major League teams, the game also offers multi-touch pitching and batting controls, accelerometer targeting, three games modes, 3-D animations, skill rankings based on 2008 player stats, and four MLB ballparks, including Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Citizens Bank Park, and the new Yankee Stadium. MLB World Series 2009 is available now and sells for $8.

Orbicule has launched Undercover, a theft recovery solution for iPhone and iPod touch. Undercover works by submitting the most accurate location data available back to Orbicule’s servers, allowing both the user and the police to view its current position. The company notes that currently the thief would need to launch the application in order for it to transmit data, but that it is working with other third-party developers in hopes of building the technology into other apps. If the thief does launch Undercover after the device has been reported stolen, it pretends to load a game while determining the current location and submitting the data to Orbicule’s servers. Undercover is available now and sells for $5.

Coupon Sherpa has released its application of the same name for the iPhone and iPod touch. Coupon Sherpa lets users access both exclusive and traditional in-store coupons directly from their devices, finding coupons by searching for the store name or browsing by category or by store list. In addition, many of the coupons include bar codes that can be scanned by the stores’ optical scanners during checkout. Coupon Sherpa sells for $2 and is available now from the App Store.

Apple patent points to motion-aware iPhone interface, video chat

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A new Apple patent application suggests the company is working on ways to make the iPhone OS interface more usable during activities. Titled “Variable Device Graphical User Interface,” the patent describes a method of sensing when the device is in motion, such as during a workout or other physical activity, and adjusting the graphical interface accordingly. Interface adjustments could potentially include enlarging user interface elements, such as items in a contact list, or icons on the home screen. Interestingly, illustrations included with the patent also depict what appears to be a forward-facing camera module at the top near the ear speaker—labeled 180—with the iPhone’s ambient light sensor moved to the bottom of its face to make room for the camera. Nothing in the patent text directly references a forward-facing camera, only one that could be “located on the back surface of the mobile device.” A forward-facing camera would potentially allow future iPhone models to offer video chat functionality, possibly through an iPhone-specific version of Apple’s iChat AV software. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Mac Rumors]

Mix: WSJ, Rolando 2, SoundEarphones, Zagg

  • April 16, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has launched a new application for the iPhone and iPod touch. WSJ - The Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader offers users access to news and information, WSJ videos and radio podcasts, along with the ability to save and share articles. Ad-supported, the application actually allows access to some articles that remain subscriber-only on the publication’s website. The Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Ngmoco has posted its teaser site for its upcoming game Rolando 2. As the first sequel to the well-received Rolando, Rolando 2: Quest for the Golden Orchid will feature new characters, new maps, and new locations, which will be revealed on the teaser site each week leading up to the game’s Summer release.

Online headphone and earphone retailer SoundEarphones.com is currently offering a 20% off coupon to all iLounge readers. To take advantage of the discount, simply enter the coupon code Sound20 during the checkout process. The coupon is valid until April 30.

Zagg, makers of the Invisible Shield clear protective film among other products, is holding a “tax relief” storewide sale, offering 30% off any order from Zagg.com. To take advantage of the discount, enter the code TAXRELIEF during checkout. The offer ends April 21.

Apple launches movies on German iTunes Store

Apple has begun to offer movie rentals and purchases on the iTunes Store in Germany. Over 500 Hollywood and German films are currently available, including “Quantum Of Solace,” “The Dark Knight,” “Pineapple Express,” “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” “Eagle Eye,” “Die Fälscher,” “Keinohrhasen” and “Aimee & Jaguar.” Participating studios include Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., The Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures Television and independents including Universum and Shorts International. Movie rental terms are the same for Germany as they are in other parts of the world; over 100 films are currently available for rent in high definition. Pricing for movie purchases starts at €7.99 for catalog title purchases, €9.99 for recent releases and €13.99 for new releases, while rentals are priced at €2.99 for library title rentals and €3.99 for new releases, with high definition versions available for one euro more. [via iFun.de]

JBL, Roxy team for new line of audio gear

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Following its earlier partnership with speaker maker Sonic Impact, fashion company Roxy has announced a new audio products tie-up with JBL that will see a co-branded line of headphones and earphones released—the first for the female lifestyle brand. JBL’s new line will include traditional earbuds, in-ear, and on-ear headphones, each available in a variety of fashion colors. The new collection will be available in May 2009; further details, such as pricing, have yet to be announced.

Smule’s Leaf Trombone hits the App Store

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Smule has released Leaf Trombone World Stage, its latest social instrument application for the iPhone and iPod touch. First previewed during the iPhone OS 3.0 event in March, Leaf Trombone is Smule’s first “massively multi-player” musical game, expanding on the iPhone-as-instrument concept seen in the company’s prior release Ocarina. Trombone features a self tutorial mode, judging capabilities which players can use to provide critiques of other users’ performances using emoticons, text, and a 1-10 scale, and a browser-based composition tool, which allows anyone to compose new music. Smule’s Leaf Trombone World Stage is available now from the App Store and sells for $1.

For more information on Leaf Trombone World Tour, see our review.

Nine Inch Nails releases official iPhone application

  • April 15, 2009

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Nine Inch Nails has released NIN: Access, the band’s official application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Sudjam, Access allows users to access nin.com’s forums, including private messages and user profiles, engage in location-based conversations and share photos with other fans of the group, and access the latest band news and blog updates. In addition, it offers streaming NIN music, including exclusive playlists and fan-created remixes, images and videos from the band’s media archive, and exclusive wallpaper images formatted for iPhone and iPod touch. NIN: Access is available as a free download from the App Store.

Ion Audio rolls out Tailgater portable iPod sound system

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Ion Audio has introduced the Tailgater, its latest portable sound system for the iPod. The Tailgater is a single-unit, two-way speaker system featuring an integrated, top-mounted iPod dock, inputs for the included microphone or other audio sources, a built-in, eight-hour rechargeable battery with level indicator, and an integrated handle. The Ion Audio Tailgater is available now in black and sells for $200.

App Mix: Cool fx, LightSource, Equilibrio, Doomsday

The Tiffen Company has released Cool fx, its latest image enhancement application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Cool fx offers users 172 visual presets separated into Black & White, Color, Diffusion, Grain, and Temperature groupings which simulate a variety of photographic looks, film stocks, and lab processes. Priced at $4 but currently offered for $3, Cool fx is available now from the App Store.

Pixelexip has introduced LightSource, its new lighting application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Designed for photographers and cinematographers, LightSource uses the device’s screen as a lighting tool, letting users choose from a common light source presets. The app’s light temperature presets are based on actual Kelvin readings, and include sunlight, candlelight, 40W and 100W tungsten bulbs, sodium vapor, halogen, fluorescent black light, and others. LightSource is available now from the App Store and sells for $1.

Fishing Cactus has debuted Equilibrio, a new gravity-based game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Players must rotate the iPhone in order to move a ball through an on-screen maze, with the ball shattering if it hits a wall or other obstacle while moving too fast. The game also features traps, five different balls with unique properties, three play modes, and 60 levels to play though. Equilibrio is available now for $4.

Smallrock Software has released Doomsday Terminal, a new game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based loosely on the computer from LOST, Doomsday Terminal presents users with a computer screen and a list of numbers they must enter every 108 minutes or else the game ends. The game ties into an online scoreboard which keeps track of who has the longest streak; Smallrock promises to give a $200 gift card to the first user who breaks the one week mark. Doomsday Terminal sells for $1 and is available now.

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