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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

iKit rolls out touchscreen AutoCon FM transmitter

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iKit has rolled out its new AutoCon FM transmitter. Sporting a 3.5mm auxiliary input cable, the AutoCon offers compatibility with all iPods, iPhones, and the iPad, as well as other portable devices. It also features a touchscreen display, with rapid auto scan to quickly find open stations, play, pause, volume, and track skip controls, handsfree telephony functionality, and an included USB car charger. The iKit AutoCon FM transmitter is available now and sells for $45.

Best Buy to offer free iPhone 3GS December 10th

Best Buy is planning to run a special one-day promotion in which it will offer the 8GB iPhone 3GS for free on contract, according to a new report. Citing a Best Buy “ninja,” Boy Genius Report claims that the promotion will run tomorrow, Friday December 10th, and will be valid for new lines, additional lines, and qualified upgrades. According to the report, all stores have adequate inventory levels to support the promotion, and that the discount will be applied as an instant rebate. This would mark the second time this month that one of Apple’s retail partners has offered a discount on iPhones, as Radio Shack is currently running a $50 off promotion on all iPhone models.

Howard Stern coming to iTunes via Sirius XM app

After weeks of speculation, radio talk show host Howard Stern has announced that he has signed a new deal with Sirius XM that will keep him with the satellite radio provider for another five years. Prior to the announcement, a poorly-sourced and possibly deliberately misleading rumor claimed that Apple was prepared to offer Stern hundreds of millions of dollars to bring his show exclusively to iTunes, despite the company’s recent and highly publicized stances against explicit imagery or content in the App Store. Stern has announced, as MacDailyNews notes, that under the new deal his show will be available via the Sirius XM app, meaning that his show will be available through iTunes, albeit only to current Sirius XM subscribers. The Sirius XM Premium Online app is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Stem Innovation launches with TimeCommand Alarm Clock

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Stem Innovation has introduced its new TimeCommand audio alarm dock for the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad. Stem Innovation is a new company focused on creating iOS accessory products, founded by former XtremeMac CEO Gary Bart. “Exciting opportunities now exist for forward-thinking manufacturers to deliver compelling solutions driven by mobile devices,” said Bart. “Stem’s mission is to enable users to connect their mobile products to their personal environment using the power of apps.”

The TimeCommand, its first iOS-focused product, is a circular alarm clock featuring a top-mounted dock, Stem:Sonic iQ digital signal processing for improved sound quality, a battery-backup to ensure alarm operation even when the power has failed, Nap/Snooze/Sleep controls, a unique curved LED display, a novel power supply that allows for the attachment and control of a bedside lamp, and compatibility with the company’s free Stem:Connect app. The app enables additional features such as dimming for incandescent bulbs, Wake-by-Light, which can automatically switch the lamp off when you go to sleep or on when an alarm sounds, a 10-band graphic equalizer, bass enhancer, and Internet radio playback. Stem Innovation’s TimeCommand audio alarm dock is available now from Apple retail stores and is priced at $100.

Epic Games releases Infinity Blade

Epic Games has released its anticipated game Infinity Blade. Developed exclusively for the iOS platform, Infinity Blade is a 3D first-person RPG shooter powered by Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 technology. Players take on the role of a knight on a quest to free the realm from an evil immortal God King and save civilization by journeying to the Dark Citadel and battling the God King’s Titans. The game provides a dynamic single-player campaign with extensive character customization of weapons, armor and magic items and advanced character progression through levelling up and increasing attack, health, shield and magic skills over the course of the game. Players navigate using intuitive tap-to-move controls to search and explore the castle realm and engage in combat moves using simple swipe gestures. The initial release of Infinity Blade provides Game Center achievements and leaderboards with a single-player campaign only; multiplayer features are planned for a future update. Infinity Blade is a universal app and is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch and the iPad and requires iOS 3.2 or later. It is available from the App Store for $6.

Incase intros Snap Battery Case for iPhone 4

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Incase has introduced its new Snap Battery Case for the iPhone 4. The Snap Battery features a built-in 900 mAh battery, which the company claims offers up to 40 percent extended battery life, as well as hardshell construction with a soft-touch coating, a female 30-pin connector for charging and syncing, an LED power indicator and control button, an included 30-pin to USB cable, open access to all ports, controls, and the camera—save for the dock connector—and impact protection on all four corners. Incase’s new Snap Battery Case for the iPhone 4 is available now and sells for $60.

90 second song previews appear on iTunes Store

Apple has begun the process of rolling out 90 second song previews on the iTunes Store. According to a letter from Apple to its music distribution and label partners that leaked online last month, the company is increasing the length of music previews on the iTunes Store in the U.S. from 30 seconds to 90 seconds for all songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length. The letter also stated that by continuing to offer their music on the iTunes Store, the labels are indicating acceptance of the new terms, meaning that any label not wishing to participate would need to pull their music from the store. Notably, it seems the lengthier new previews are appearing on top/featured songs and albums first, while many older, less popular titles have yet to see their preview times increased. [via BGR]

First iPad 2G case shows rear camera, new curves?

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Shenzhen MacTop Electronics, a Chinese manufacturer, is now offering what it claims is a case for the second-generation iPad. Dubbed the “Crystal Case for iPad 2nd Generation,” the case appears to have different, slimmer contours than the first-generation model, with the speaker opening unusually large on the back, and a hole for a rear-facing camera in the upper left-hand corner, similar to its position on the iPhone and fourth-generation iPod touch. Apple has yet to announce or even acknowledge the existence of a second-generation iPad, although recent rumors have pegged the device’s release as coming within the next 100 days.

Update: Following our initial report, a second case was spotted sporting the same camera hole and expanded speaker-area cutout as the first case; the text accompanying the second image suggests the cutout is for a new SD card slot. The unusual size and shape of the cutout would suggest either the placement of the SD card above the current speaker, realignment of the speaker closer to the new iPad’s back with the card slot in its former place, or potentially a new pop-out door akin to the ports on the first-generation MacBook Air. All three possibilities seem somewhat unlikely in light of recent Apple design decisions.

Update 2: We’ve added an article briefly discussing how a rear iPad camera could work relative to other iOS devices and tablet competitors.

App Store promo codes now work internationally

Apple has removed its restrictions on where App Store promo codes can be used, allowing developers to send codes to journalists and other users worldwide. “Your promo code distribution is no longer limited to U.S. customers,” says the Apple alert, reposted by Mackinando (Translated Link). “Promo codes in iTunes Connect can now be redeemed by all App Store customers worldwide. Your Team Agent can request 50 codes per version of your app in iTunes Connect and your customers can redeem these codes in any App Store. To learn more about requesting promo codes in iTunes Connect, see the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.” [via Mac Rumors]

iPhone game specialist leaves Apple

Long time game designer and programmer Graeme Devine has left Apple’s iPhone Game Technologies division. According to Kotaku, Devine’s last day with the company was Friday. “My job there was basically to make gaming on the iOS devices fantastic,” Devine said. “Basically that meant looking at the technologies involved and making sure the software played well with the hardware, to look at upcoming hardware/API and say ‘Yup, that is a good thing’. Apple didn’t have an in-house game designer before me so I think it was pretty unique, game technologies touch everything from the graphics stack to touch latency to push notifications. No other app type covers so many technologies and having someone there to validate and help shape that was basically my day job.” Devine, who joined the company in November 2009, said that gamers shouldn’t worry about his departure from the company, saying, “I can’t comment on what’s next inside Apple, but I can tell you, they really do ‘get’ gaming.”

iTunes Store in the U.K. now selling HD movies

The iTunes Store in the U.K. is now offering HD movies for purchase. According to Mac Rumors, the library of titles available in HD is currently very limited, with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse standing as the highest-profile title currently available. New release titles, priced at £9.99 for standard definition versions, are selling for £12.99, while older titles which are normally £6.99 in SD are £7.99 in the higher-quality format. Apple launched standard definition movie sales and rentals of both standard- and high-definition films in June 2008.

Speakal debuts Cool iPig speaker for iPod, iPhone

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Speakal has debuted its new Cool iPig speaker for the iPod and iPhone. Featuring a cartoon-like pig design, the Cool Pig features a top-mounted dock, motion sensing volume and music controls, a rechargeable lithium battery, two front-facing speakers with a down-firing subwoofer, included remote control, 23 Watts of total power, and a 3.5mm auxiliary input. Speakal’s Cool iPig is available now and sells for $150.

Apple lowers prices on refurb iPads, adds 3G models

Apple has lowered its prices on its refurbished iPad Wi-Fi units while adding 3G offerings. Compared to the prior discount of $50 off retail for Wi-Fi models, the 16GB model is now $429, or $70 lower than retail units, while the 32GB and 64GB Wi-Fi models have seen their prices slashed to $499 and $599, respectively, a discount of $100 off retail. The refurbished Wi-Fi + 3G models are discounted $50 off of retail bringing their pricing to $579-$779. Apple first started selling refurbished iPads in September; all refurbished units include a standard one-year limited warranty.

Maclocks unveils iPad Lock and Security Case

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Maclocks has unveiled its new iPad Lock and Security Case solution for the iPad. The solution consists of the Security Case, a clear, hard plastic cover offering open access to all ports and controls, an included screen protector, and a security slot on the side, and the iPad Lock, a strong steel cable with a Noble NG14 lockhead that allows users to secure the iPad to a table, bench, or other stationary object, removing the possibility of theft. Maclocks’ iPad Lock and Security Case for the iPad is available for pre-order now and sells for $65; the Security Case is also available by itself and sells for $40.

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone

Peel has announced a new hardware accessory that allows iPhone users to control their home entertainment system from the company’s Peel TV discovery app. Released in October, the free Peel app provides a simple TV guide based on personalized content using user preferences and tailored recommendations to allow users to view programming and discover shows that they are interested in. The application provides detailed show information such as time, channel, lead actors and a synopsis and also includes integration with Facebook and Twitter for sharing favorite shows. The Peel Universal Control accessory allows the Peel app to be used to control a home entertainment system in a program-oriented fashion instead of simply channel-surfing. Rather than connecting directly to the iPhone, the Peel Universal Control is a separate device that is placed within line-of-sight of the user’s home entertainment devices and communicates with the iPhone application over Wi-Fi to transmit IR commands to the system. Users can simply fire up the Peel app and use a simple gesture-based interface to select programming and control volume, menu systems and more right from the iPhone. The app can recommend top viewing choices from a user’s available sources based on their individual viewing patterns and preferences and once a show is selected the app is designed to be used intuitively for adjusting volume and navigating PVR functions without having to look at the iPhone.

Peel has not yet announced pricing for the Peel Universal Control and is currently running a social media campaign to help determine hardware pricing based on user feedback. A limited quantity of units will be directly available from Peel for auction and once that quantity has been sold Peel Universal Control will be available in major online and retail stores. Peel Universal Control works with iPhone OS 3 and above and supports controlling a wide variety of home media devices ranging from traditional TVs and set-top boxes to the Apple TV, Tivo and Roku. The Peel discovery app is available from the App Store as a free download.

MarketWatch names Jobs ‘CEO of the Decade’

MarketWatch has named Apple CEO Steve Jobs the “CEO of the Decade.” In a lengthy profile accompanying the award, Jobs is praised for turning the company around in the late ‘90s, for the stream of successful product introductions—iTunes, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad—that have come since, and for driving the company’s stock price upward. “The resurrection of Apple is just the most astounding story that’s probably happened in business in at least a decade — you might be able to go further and say it’s a half-century,” says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, a technology-industry think tank. “It’s on par with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell in terms of its total impact.” The article also compares Jobs to Walt Disney; Jobs served as CEO of Pixar for much of the decade before selling the animation studio to The Walt Disney Company, in turn becoming its biggest individual shareholder and securing himself a seat on the board.

European telcos claim Apple, Google should pay for network improvements

A group of European carriers is arguing that companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook should help pay for the multi-billion dollar network investments needed to support their bandwidth-intensive services, according to a Bloomberg report. “Service providers are flooding networks with no incentive” to cut costs, said France Telecom Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard last month. “It’s necessary to put in place a system of payments by service providers as a function of their use.” Richard addressed the issue at the “Le Web” conference in Paris this week, and has joined with Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe and Telefonica SA CEO Cesar Alierta in arguing for a new business model. Bernabe said that the disparity between investments and revenue “is set to compromise the economic sustainability of the current business model for telecom companies,” adding that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Skype “increasingly look like integrated operators in the telecom network sector.”

The article sites IDC as estimating that the number of mobile data connections in western Europe will rise by an average of 15 percent a year to 270 million in 2014, while overall end-user revenue will fall about 1 percent a year. Canalys adds that carriers’ average spending on network infrastructure over the same period will jump 28 percent to roughly $3.8 billion. Companies like Google and Yahoo! “use Telefonica’s networks for free, which is good news for them and a tragedy for us,” Alierta said in February. “That can’t continue.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the service providers themselves don’t agree with the carriers’ position. “Currently about 40 percent of our expenses go to networks anyway—servers, peering, our content delivery network, and other resources,” said Giuseppe de Martino, legal and regulatory director for Paris-based online-video service Dailymotion SA. “If telecom operators want us to share in their expenses, perhaps we should talk about sharing subscription revenues as well.”

Flight Control adds Game Center multiplayer support

Firemint has released an update to Flight Control for the iPhone and iPod touch adding support for multiplayer games via Apple’s Game Center. The update allows players to use Game Center to either invite their own friends or auto-match with other random Flight Control players to engage in multiplayer games. Game Center voice chat is also enabled so that users can optionally talk with each other during online multiplayer games and a new menu button provides users with the latest news from the developer. Several other minor bug fixes and improvements are also included in this latest update. Flight Control is available from the App Store as a free download and remains compatible with any iPhone or iPod touch using iOS 2.0 or later; Game Center features requires iOS 4.1 or later.

NYT: iPad ads ‘sold out’ since app launch

Speaking today at the UBS Securities media conference, The New York Times Company digital manager Martin Nisenholtz said the company had been “sold out” on iPad advertisements since the paper’s app went live in the App Store. Barron’s reports that Times CEO Janet Robinson also made mention of the company’s plan to start a paid access model next year, saying that “users will get access to a set number of articles per month, but will be asked to pay after that,” and added that the Times will offer “packages” across “platforms,” which the article suggests may be referencing combined web and iPad/iPhone/tablet access. Robinson added that the company already has several commitments from advertisers for ads in its iPad app for 2011.

Gourmet Live adds in-app purchases, landscape view

Condé Nast Digital has released an update to its Gourmet Live interactive magazine app fro the iPad. The new version adds support for landscape viewing and the ability to purchase back issues and special features items directly from within the application. Additional new improvements include the addition of a home button, in-app badging and improvements to the sign-in and registration procedures, eliminating the need to setup a social networking account within the app. Gourmet Live is available from the App Store as a free download; individual issues are available for $1 each via in-app purchase.

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