Essential TPE has debuted its new Icon and Iro cases for the iPhone 4. Made from premium quality silicone, the Icon case adds a non-functional, retro-style external antenna element opposite the headphone jack, and features push-through protection for the volume buttons, open access to all other ports, controls, and cameras, and an included screen protector. The Iro case is a polycarbonate case featuring a UV coating for increased rigidity, a slightly curved back surface for added grip, open access to all ports, controls, and cameras, and an included screen protector. It will be available in a wide variety of colors, while the Icon will be available in black or gray. Essential TPE’s Icon and Iro cases are expected to ship by the end of the month and will sell for $25.
Clamcase has announced that its Keyboard Case for iPad is now available for pre-order. Shown as a computer rendering shortly after the iPad’s introduction, the Clamcase is made from high grade PC-ABS plastic with a soft touch coating, and features a “chiclet” keyboard with 14 function keys, Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity, a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery good for 90 hours of interrupted use, a mini USB charging port with LED charging indicator, open access to all of the iPad’s ports and controls, 3M anti-scratch pads for safe transportation when the case is closed and for secure footing when the keyboard is folded back, allowing the case to act as a multi-angle stand. Clamcase’s Keyboard Case for the iPad is available for pre-order now and will ship in January 2011 for $120; an “online gift card” is also available for $99 that can be used immediately at the company’s online store. [via Engadget]
Kioky is offering a preview of its upcoming screen protectors for the iPhone. Available in clear, matte, privacy, and mirror finishes, Kioky’s screen protector comes packaged with a unique applicator that centers and secures the screen protector, ensuring that the protector properly lines up on the device when it’s placed face-down into the applicator. According to the company, the applicator allows for installation of screen protectors in “seconds.” Kioky’s new screen protectors for the iPhone are expected to launch at CES 2011 in January; pricing and availability have yet to be announced.
Chair Entertainment Group has released an update to its highly acclaimed Infinity Blade RPG for the iPhone and iPod touch adding new items and enemies and an in-app purchase feature. Specifically, Infinity Blade 1.1 adds five new swords, five new shields, five new helmets and one new set of armor to be mastered and raises the maximum character level from 40 to 45. A new enemy, the Marrow Fiend has also been added for extra challenges. Users can also now purchase gold for real money via a new in-app purchase feature with gold ranging from $1 for 25,000 gold up to $50 to purchase 2.5 million gold. The game also now allows players to listen to their own music while playing. Infinity Blade is a universal app supporting all recent iPhone, iPod touch and iPad models and is available from the App Store for $6.
Urbanspoon has released an update to its restaurant location and review app for the iPhone and iPod touch. The update adds a set of new photo features focusing on food. Users can now browse user-contributed photos of dishes from nearby restaurants directly from the home screen and more easily share snapshots of their favorite dishes. A new Popular Menu items feature allows users to see photos and user reviews of individual dishes for each restaurant. Urbanspoon is available from the App Store as a free download.
Yelp has released an update to its iOS social location app adding native iPad support. Yelp 5.0 is now a universal app supporting the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, with new enhanced features for iPad users. Yelp users on the iPad have access to an advanced photo search to help users find locations by picture rather than just name or description. Users on the iPad can also now write reviews of locations from directly within the app and search for businesses using a landscape map/list mode. Yelp is available from the App Store as a free download.
JBL’s upcoming On Air Wireless speaker dock with AirPlay support has appeared on the FCC’s website. Engadget reports that along with photos of the device, the filing includes the On Air’s user manual, and indicates that the large color LCD display at the center bottom of the dock will be used to display album art while streaming music, and will also help ease the Wi-Fi setup process. The report indicates that the On Air Wireless will be introduced at CES 2011; pricing and availability information has yet to be announced.
Apple has announced that it expects sales of the second-generation Apple TV to top one million units later this week. According to the release, iTunes users are now renting and purchasing over 400,000 TV episodes and over 150,000 movies per day. Notably, this is the first time Apple has made an official announcement regarding Apple TV sales, although Apple CEO Steve Jobs did say during the company’s most recent financial results conference call that the company has sold roughly 250,000 units since its release, meaning Apple has sold roughly 750,000 units since Jobs’ statement on October 18. Perhaps not coincidentally, Roku CEO Anthony Wood recently said that it expected to sell its one millionth set-top box by the end of this year, adding that the company’s sales actually doubled when the new Apple TV came out, thanks to the increased attention it brought to the product category.
Update: Apple has since confirmed that it did pass one million second-generation Apple TV units sold prior to Christmas.
Apple has begun airing a holiday-themed iPhone 4 commercial. Entitled “Under The Covers” and set to “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, the ad—shot in the style of Apple’s original FaceTime iPhone 4 spots—shows a mother and son on a FaceTime call with Santa. As the mother leaves the room, the young boy covers up with his bedsheet and continues talking to “Santa,” who is revealed to actually be the son’s father, calling from the family’s garage. Apple’s new iPhone 4 commercial is available for viewing now on the company’s website.
Motorola has posted a new video online that teases a tablet introduction at CES 2011 while taking shots at the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. The video, entitled “Tablet Evolution” and reposted by Laptop Magazine, is a CG walk through a corridor of tablets, ranging from an Egyptian Hieroglyphic tablet to the Rosetta Stone, with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek description for each. When the video swings to the iPad, the description says “It’s like a giant iPhone, but… it’s like a giant iPhone,” before swinging to show the Samsung Galaxy tab, which it describes as “Android OS, but Android OS… for a phone.” The video ends with a shot of an upcoming tablet from Motorola shrouded atop a pedestal, and then a brief segment of a bee flying around the Motorola logo — a likely indication that the tablet will run “Honeycomb,” Google’s upcoming, tablet-optimized version of Android.
Chima Designs has introduced its new Crucial Case for the Apple iPad. Made from ballistic nylon, the Crucial Case features an adaptable folio-style design, with a detachable head rest mount for in-car use, a food tray mount for use on an airplane, an integrated, adjustable kickstand, a hand strap for secure handling, interior pockets for cords, headphones, and accessories, and a dual zipper system for port protection when not in use. Chima Designs’ Crucial Case for iPad is available now and sells for $60.
Foursquare has released an update to its location-based social networking app for the iPhone and iPod touch adding support for adding comments and photos. Foursquare 2.2 now allows users to post comments in response to friends’ check-ins to facilitate meeting up and discussing venues. The new version also adds support for posting photos from the camera or photo library for check-ins and when posting tips for a location. Photos and comments can also be viewed from the foursquare.com web site in the users’ history page. Foursquare is available from the App Store as a free download.
Gear 4 has unveiled its new lineup of Angry Birds-themed cases for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. The clip-on style hard cases feature open access to all ports, controls, and cameras, as well as large, full-case graphics featuring one of three Angry Birds characters—either the Red Bird, Yellow Bird, or Pig King. Gear 4’s new Angry Birds cases for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch are available now and sell for $25.
id Software has released an update to Rage and Rage HD for iOS devices, adding support for Game Center and Gyroscope controls on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. The latest version allows Game Center users to post their scores to the leaderboards and unlock and track over 50 achievements specific to career, map and difficulty levels. The update also adds a Museum Mode to allow users to explore empty levels without fighting any mutants and adds support for playing the game on a TV or monitor using the appropriate cables, including 720p support using the iPad Dock Connector to VGA cable. Rage is available from the App Store in two universal versions: Rage HD provides high-resolution graphics optimized for Retina Display devices and is only compatible with the iPhone 3GS or later, third-generation iPod touch or later, or the iPad, while the basic version, Rage provides lower-resolution graphics but can be played on any iOS 3.1 or later device.
Sam’s Club stores in the U.S. will be offering the 16GB iPhone 4 for just $147 with a two-year contract through Christmas Day, according to a new report. Citing information and a matching screenshot from an anonymous source, Engadget reports that the 8GB iPhone 3GS will see a similar discount, and will sell for $47 on contract until the holiday. Notably, the iPhone 4 price would represent the cheapest of the season, beating out Radio Shack’s prior discount by two dollars; the report does not indicate whether Sam’s will be offering a similar discount on 32GB iPhone 4 units.
Update: Walmart, which owns Sam’s Club, is offering a $50 Gift Card with the purchase of a new 8GB iPhone 3GS or 16GB iPhone 4.
A variety of apps for iOS and Android are secretly collecting and sharing user data with outside companies, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation. The investigation looked at 101 popular apps for both platforms, and found that 56 transmitted the phone’s UDID number to third parties without users’ awareness or consent, while 47 transmitted the phone’s location, and five sent age, gender, and other personal details. The iPhone apps TextPlus 4, Paper Toss, Grindr, Pumpkin Maker, and Pandora are all named in the investigation for sending out varying amounts of data; popular music streaming app Pandora was also named for sending age, gender, location, and phone identifiers to multiple ad networks; the company claims the information is voluntarily offered by users, and isn’t linked to an individual name.
For its part, Apple claims that app makers must notify the user before requesting or transmitting such information. “We have created strong privacy protections for our customers, especially regarding location-based data,” says Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. “Privacy and trust are vitally important.” Ideally, any app transmitting information without the users’ knowledge or consent would be caught during the company’s App Store review process and rejected, but the WSJ’s report claims that at least one app transmites location to an ad network without asking permission. To carry out the investigation, the publication designed a system to intercept and record the data being transmitted by the apps, then decode the data stream. 50 iPhone and 50 Android apps were tested, along with the WSJ’s own iPhone app; although the iPhone apps transmitted more data than the Android apps, the article does note that Google doesn’t review apps, saying the developers “bear the responsibility for how they handle user information.”
Facebook has released an update to its iPhone and iPod touch application adding several improvements and bug fixes. Facebook 3.3.3 improves reliability in the chat and messages section within the app and makes improvements to the notifications UI. The update also fixes bugs related to memory usage and group photos and correctly omits the text field on walls that users cannot post to. The new version also restores the ability for users to post on behalf of pages that they administer and adds various improvements to Facebook’s Places service. Facebook 3.3.3 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Fring has introduced a new feature for its iOS voice and video calling application allowing users to place calls via Fring to regular landlines and mobile phone numbers. The service, fringOut is available in an update to the application and allows for calls to regular phone numbers internationally for as little as 0.6 cents per minute. Users can activate the fringOut service and add credit to it directly within the application and the company is also currently running a promotion offering free credit to travellers in Europe who are currently stranded due to weather conditions. Fring is available from the App Store as a free download.
In an interview with Forbes, Epic Games’ vice president and co-founder Mark Rein said that the company’s new iOS game Infinity Blade was already profitable despite having been on the market for only a week, leading to its title as fastest-grossing app. Rein didn’t disclose how much money the game has made, but the report notes that the game has more than 300,000 users playing on Apple’s Game Center social gaming network; at $6 a copy, that translates to roughly $1.8 million in sales, $1.26 million of which would go to Epic. Interestingly, Rein described the Game Center numbers as “quite a bit lower” than actual sales, because not all users who purchased the game are playing it with Game Center enabled. Rein also said that more console-quality games will be coming to iOS soon, as he believes there is a business model for such titles, adding that Infinity Blade was made quickly for a “very reasonable price by a very reasonably sized team.” The report notes that Cut the Rope was considered the previous record holder, generating $1 million in sales in just 10 days.