Apple has extended its free personal engraving and signature gift wrapping services to online iPad purchases. Exclusive to the Apple Online Store, the personal engraving service allows buyers to add a personal laser-engraved message to the back of their iPad consisting of up to two lines of approximately 30 characters each. Users are prompted to add their engraving during the checkout process and can see a preview of what their message will look like on the back of the iPad. As with the iPod service, adding a personal engraving will increase shipping times slightly and engraved iPads are not eligible for Apple’s normal return policy. Apple is also offering its signature gift wrapping service for iPad purchases as well; for an extra $5 users can have the iPad delivered in a signature gift box along with a personalized greeting card and red ribbon. Buyers can also add a free gift message to the packing slip. Personal engraving and signature gift wrapping services are available only for orders from the Apple Online Store; these services may not be available in all countries where the iPad is sold.
Apple has released an update to its official Apple Store application, adding support for interacting with Apple Retail Stores and adding engraving and gift wrapping to online purchases. The Apple Store application allows users in the U.S. to purchase Apple products and accessories directly from their iOS device and read customer reviews. With version 1.1 users can now add free personal engraving for iPad and iPod purchases and choose gift wrapping for iPads, iPods select Mac notebooks and select Apple software and accessories. The new version also allows users to interact with Apple Retail Stores, including reserving certain products for pickup, making Genius Bar and One to One reservations and signing up for workshops and events. Users can choose to add Retail Store appointments directly to their calendar and request help while in an Apple Retail Store. The application uses Location Services to identify nearby Apple Retail Stores and offers users additional services when they are in a store. Notably the new Apple Store application also includes an option to reserve a white iPhone 4, however attempting to do so results in a note that Apple is “not currently taking reservations for this product” and offers users the opportunity to check their eligibility for an upgrade. The Apple Store application is currently only available in the U.S. and is a free download from the U.S. App Store.
Update: It appears the white iPhone 4 has been removed from the Apple Store app.
A MacRumors reader has identified a security flaw in iOS 4.1 that would allow users to bypass the iPhone lock screen. Attempting to place an emergency call to a non-emergency number and immediately pressing the sleep/wake button on the iPhone will open the Phone app, allowing the user to access contacts, call history, voicemail and call any number. The user will not be able to leave the Phone application and access other data on the device, and must either reboot the device or place and end another call to return to the normal lock screen. iLounge has confirmed that this issue exists in iOS 4.1 on all models of iPhone and have also received reports that the problem exists in at least some versions of iOS 4.0. Notably, John Gruber reports that the problem does not exist in iOS 4.2 beta 3, suggesting that Apple may have already identified and fixed the security flaw. Note that this issue does not affect the iPod touch as it has no Emergency Call feature.
Mophie has introduced the workbook, a new protective case for the iPad providing a stylish, fully adjustable folio design. The light-weight form-fitting case provides iPad users with infinite adjustability and an unlimited number of viewing angles for comfortable typing and screen viewing. The case features a durable protective exterior with a soft interior fabric and is designed for easy carrying with an elastic strap to secure the cover and full access to all ports and controls allowing users to charge and sync the iPad without having to remove the case. The workbook is available in five unique color combinations of and sells for $60.
A number of iPad users are reporting serious problems with Condé Nast’s recently debuted Gourmet Live digital magazine application for the iPad. iLounge editors have discovered that the application causes iPads to lock up completely, requiring a hard reboot to restore normal operation, and what appears to be an extended rebuilding of the iPad’s database thereafter. After several rebuilds, the iPad can become non-responsive and require restoration in iTunes. The problem seems to most commonly occur when downloading “rewards,” or free additional content within the application, which happens automatically while users are reading articles. Numerous review comments on Gourmet Live’s App Store page show a number of similar issues being experienced by other users as well, suggesting that this is not an isolated problem. While it was not unheard of for unstable applications to cause the iPhone and iPod to lock up in the days of iOS 2.x, this behavior has become extremely rare with recent iOS versions, and is the first iPad application we’ve seen to cause serious problems of this nature.
Following the recent release of Virtual City HD for the iPad, G5 Entertainment has released an update to Virtual City for the iPhone (iLounge rating: B+) adding the promised Free Play mode. Virtual City 1.1 adds the Sand Box mode introduced in the iPad version allowing users to choose from one of five large maps to design their own city from scratch. Each Sand Box map represents one of the five U.S. states in Virtual City and players unlock each one by playing through the appropriate scenarios. The latest version also adds Game Center support for sharing achievements, improves Retina Display support and adds a number of performance optimizations and bug fixes. Virtual City for the iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store for $5.
Voting continues at a fast and furious pace in our 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards, with thousands of votes already counted. These special Awards allow you to choose the year’s top products and developers: Apple’s best new digital media product, iPad/iPhone/iPod Accessory Developer, iOS Application Developer, and iOS Game Developer.
In the category for Apple’s best new media product, the voting is largely spread across four key products: the iPhone 4, iPad, fourth-generation iPod touch, and iOS 4.0. For Accessory Developer of the year we’re in a neck-and-neck race between Griffin, Belkin, iHome and Logitech, while Apple, Netflix, Flipboard and Peapod Labs continue to lead the pack in the Application Developer of the Year category. Finally, the battle for Game Developer of the Year is being waged most heavily between PopCap, Rovio, Electronic Arts and Gameloft, but we also continue to receive a significant number of write-in votes for each category, so if your choice isn’t on the list, feel free to write it in! Voting ends at midnight Eastern Time on October 27, and all it takes is filling out a simple four-question survey. Cast your vote today!
Applidium has released an update to its iOS version of the popular VLC media player application adding support for iPhone and iPod touch devices. Released last month, VLC Media Player is an open-source media player for iOS devices that supports playback of a very wide variety of video formats. VLC Media Player 1.1 is now a universal app that can be used on the iPad and newer iPhone and iPod touch models. The update also adds the ability to delete files directly from within the application without having to go through iTunes, recognizes many more file extensions and includes optimizations that provide faster video decoding. VLC Media Player requires an iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS or recent iPod touch model using iOS 3.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
The first beta version of iOS 4.2 released last month changed the behaviour of the orientation lock switch to act as a mute switch instead, similar to the function of the switch on the iPhone. When this change was first revealed, many wondered if this was intentional behaviour on Apple’s part or simply a temporary change as a result of unifying iOS 4.2 on both the iPhone and iPad devices. 9to5Mac is now reporting that this is an intentional change on Apple’s part following an e-mail exchange between a reader and Steve Jobs. Not only did Jobs allegedly confirm that the switch is going to be used to mute the sound but also indicated that the switch function would not be configurable by the user. It is worth noting that the hardware switch on the iPad was originally advertised as a mute switch, and Apple only changed the function to an orientation lock in late March shortly before the initial release of the iPad. iOS 4.2 on the iPad is expected to include an orientation lock button in the multitasking dock widget that was introduced for the iPhone and iPod touch in iOS 4.0, a function that was not otherwise available on the iPad with iOS 3.2.
A recent Nielsen survey suggests that iPad owners are more aggressive consumers of media, and more receptive to advertising than owners of other devices. Nielsen surveyed over 5,000 consumers who already own connected media devices such as tablet computers, eReaders, netbooks and/or smartphones. In addition to noting the nascent market development of tablets, the survey indicated that tablet owners tend to own more connected devices than users of other device types. According to the company, iPad users tend to be younger and more of them are male than users of other connected devices, with 63% of iPad users being under the age of 35, as compared to 47% of Kindle users.
The survey also showed that iPad owners more regularly access traditional print and video content such as books, magazines, TV shows and movies, while news and music are still consumed slightly more by iPhone users. iPad owners also tend to spend more time on content, with the average iPad user spending from 30 minutes to 2 hours at a time depending on the type of content. In comparison, most iPhone users spend less than 15 minutes accessing any type of content, even feature-length movies. Nielsen also notes that 63% of iPad owners have purchased at least one application, with games, books, and music applications being the most common types of paid apps; 5% of respondents downloaded only free apps, and 32% of respondents indicated that they had never downloaded an app for their iPad.
Nielsen also revealed that connected device owners are generally comfortable with mobile advertising, particularly where it means that content can be accessed for free, and that iPad owners are considerably more receptive than iPhone or other connected device owners to advertising, particularly if the ads include interesting video or interactive features. The survey went on to note that iPad owners were much more likely to make a purchase, either online or at a retail store after viewing an ad on their iPad. A summary of the findings is available as a PDF from Nielsen’s site.
One Man Left has released an update to Tilt to Live adding Retina Display graphics and Game Center support. Tilt to Live is an action/arcade game for the iPhone and iPod touch where players use the accelerometer to navigate a small ship around a playing field avoiding touching red dots while trying to collect orbs that can be used to destroy them. The game provides four game types, six unlockable super-weapons and 43 award challenges. Users can post high scores to Twitter and Facebook or to global AGON online leaderboards. Version 1.5 adds high-resolution graphics for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch Retina Display and now integrates with Apple’s Game Center for leaderboards and awards/achievements. The update also fixes crashes in Code Red mode, improves memory usage and includes other minor bug fixes. Tilt to Live is available from the App Store for $3; an iPad version is also available.
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Social network site MySpace has launched a new iPhone application, SuperPost, allowing users to simultaneously post to multiple social networks. SuperPost allows users to update their status and share photos, videos and links not only on MySpace but on rival sites Facebook and Twitter. Users can preview photos and videos before sending them, upload HD videos while using a Wi-Fi connection and pick and choose the specific services that they want to post to. The application maintains a history of all updates and posts sent from the app and supports background task completion on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices allowing photos and videos to continue uploading even after leaving the application. The application allows only for posting of information and does not provide any facility for viewing updates from MySpace or other social networks. SuperPost is available from the App Store as a free download.
Zynga has released an update adding iPad support to its wildly popular online social game FarmVille. Originally released for the iPhone and iPod touch in June, the FarmVille app brings the online game to iOS devices, allowing players to tend to their same farms on the web or while on the go. FarmVille on the iPad features custom graphics designed specifically for the larger screen and takes advantage of the same touchscreen interface as on the iPhone with more accessible tools and menus designed for the iPad UI. The new version also improves loading times on all devices and provides bug fixes and stability improvements. FarmVille is a universal app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Electronic Arts has released Reckless Racing, its much-anticipated dirt-road racing game for iOS devices. In Reckless Racing players choose from five detailed tracks and a variety of vehicles and race against other vehicles driven by in-game characters or other players online in a no-rules race. Players can choose from a variety of driving controls as they progress through the races and move up through three difficulty levels. Three different game modes are available allowing players to race against other drivers or simply race to beat the clock and the game also includes integrated leaderboards and online multiplayer chat. Reckless Racing is available from the App Store in two separate versions: Reckless Racing ($3) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Reckless Racing HD ($5) for the iPad.
As Halloween approaches, several game developers have released Halloween-themed editions of popular iPhone and iPad game titles. Rovio Mobile has released special editions of its popular Angry Birds game, Angry Birds Halloween ($1) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Angry Birds Halloween HD ($2) for the iPad. Both versions add new levels with Halloween-themed objects such as spooky backgrounds and pumpkins to smash, and are purchased separately special editions of Angry Birds.
Lima Sky has updated the existing version of Doodle Jump ($1), adding a haunted Halloween theme as a free update for current users. Players can turn Doodle into a scary Doodlestein monster that must dodge zombies, vampires, witches and other creepy creatures. This latest version of Doodle Jump is a free update for current users.
Eyedip has released revamped Halloween versions of several of its popular applications, transforming them entirely rather than merely adding an additional theme. Flight Doodle ($1) and Flight Doodle HD ($3) sport an entirely new Halloween look with darker menus and orange and black falling tacks, ghouls, ghosts and zombies as enemies. Cargo planes have been replaced with a friendly witch to deliver tricks and treats as power-ups and numerous other Halloween themed objects and backgrounds have been added. Eyedip has also released the latest chapter in Pocket Devil ($1) and Pocket Devil HD ($3), dressing up the characters and sending them out for All Hallow’s Eve with a new mini-game, a pumpkin head editor, Halloween brain feast and new spooky scenery. All four games are available as free updates for current users.
Following yesterday’s acquisition of iOS game publisher Chillingo by Electronic Arts, Angry Birds developer Rovio revealed to TechCrunch that its relationship with Chillingo was limited to the original release of the iPhone and iPad games in December 2009 and April 2010 and did not evolve beyond that point. Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio told TechCrunch, “We only did the first iPad/iPhone integration with Chillingo and aside from that we’ve published everything ourselves. We will not use Chillingo again.” Rovio Mobile has published all of its other games directly since the initial deal with Chillingo, including its flagship Angry Birds game for other mobile platforms and its latest Angry Birds Halloween title for the iPhone and iPad. According to Vesterbacka, Rovio Mobile retained all intellectual property rights to Angry Birds in its contract with Chillingo, and Rovio plans to continue publishing the game independently.
AT&T released its third-quarter financial results today reporting that the company has activated 5.2 million iPhones—the most ever in a single quarter. The report goes on to note that this is 62 percent more than the previous quarterly record of 3.2 million which was set in the second quarter of 2010, and that 24 percent of those activations were for customers new to AT&T. This news follows Apple’s Q4 2010 results from earlier this week where the company reported sales of 14.1 million iPhones. It is worth noting however that AT&T’s activation numbers include both new device sales and reactivation of second-hand devices by new customers, and there is therefore no direct relationship between the number of iPhones sold by Apple and the number of devices activated by AT&T. [via Mac Rumors]
The LA Times reports that Electronic Arts has purchased U.K. based iOS gaming publisher Chillingo. EA spokesperson Holly Rockwood confirmed the purchase this morning but did not provide any comment on the acquisition amount, although “sources close to the deal” cited by the LA Times indicated that the amount was less than $20 million in cash. Chillingo is a game publisher rather than a developer and the company represents a number of independent iOS developers. Popular titles released by Chillingo include Angry Birds by Rovio and Cut the Rope by ZeptoLab, both of which are currently hold top positions on the iTunes App Store charts. Neither Rovio or ZeptoLab are part of the EA acquisition. In a statement released this morning, EA noted that the acquisition will “combine Chillingo’s expertise in cultivating the ideas of independent developers with EA’s global mobile publishing reach.”
During its Back to the Mac special event today, Apple announced the release of FaceTime for the Mac. Currently in Beta, the new standalone application allows Mac users running OS X 10.6.4 or later to FaceTime video chat with iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch users. The software integrates with the Mac’s built-in Address Book, and automatically rotates the image on the Mac end when an iPhone or iPod touch user rotates their device on the other end of a call. Notably, the screen aspect ratios of the iPhone and iPod touch are different than those of some Macs, leading to black bars on certain Mac models when performing full screen FaceTime chats.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the event that there are now over 19 million mobile FaceTime users, meaning that the company has sold at least 19 million iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4G units. In addition to the new software, Apple also announced downloads of over 7 billion apps from the App Store, before announcing a new App Store for Mac which the company plans to launch within 90 days. FaceTime for the Mac Beta is available now as a free download from Apple’s website.