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iLounge Weekly coming Monday, last weekend for giveaways

The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes Monday morning. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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Also, if you haven’t yet entered our two ongoing giveaways, this is your last weekend to do so. In the Bluelounge Nest Giveaway, iLounge and Bluelounge are giving away fifty Nest iPad stands and valets, while in the CEA Tech Enthusiast Giveaway, iLounge and the Consumer Electronics Association are giving away five free annual memberships to become a CEA Tech Enthusiast. Both giveaways end on April 30, 2011 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Amazon MP3 drops top songs to $0.69

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Amazon MP3 has dropped the price on a number of its top-selling songs to $0.69 each, nearly half the price of the majority of best-selling tracks on iTunes. The Los Angeles Times reports that it is unclear whether Amazon or the music labels themselves are eating the cost of the price reduction; currently discounted tracks include “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, “On the Floor” by Jennifer Lopez, and “E.T.” by Katy Perry. As of this writing, 13 of the top 20 best-selling songs on Amazon MP3 are selling for the reduced $0.69 price, where as only one song in iTunes’ top 50—“Barbra Steisand” by Duck Sauce—is priced below $1.29, selling for $0.99. Curiously, Amazon’s move comes exactly a month after its rollout of a new Cloud Player online music service, which it launched without the consent of the major music labels.

HBO GO for iOS provides free streaming for HBO subscribers

HBO has released the iOS application for its new HBO GO streaming video service providing subscribers with an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with access to over 1,400 HBO shows directly on their devices. Available at no additional charge for existing HBO subscribers, HBO GO allows users to view programming over either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, making the entire lineup of HBO shows and movies available while on-the-go. Bonus features and special behind-the-scenes extras are included in the HBO GO service and the app allows users to also create customized watchlists and smart “Series Pass” lists to easily follow their favorite shows. HBO GO is available only in the U.S. and requires a 3G or Wi-Fi connection for viewing content. The universal iOS app requires iOS 3.2 or later and an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad. HBO GO is available from the App Store as a free download.

Scosche debuts freeKey flexible Bluetooth keyboard

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Scosche has debuted its new freeKey flexible Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. Made from silicone, the freeKey is water resistant, and offers a full QWERTY layout with arrow and function keys, Bluetooth 2.0, automatic repairing capabilities, and an included retractable USB to micro-USB charge cable. Scosche’s freeKey flexible Bluetooth keyboard is available now and sells for $60.

EOps outs Outercover cases for iPad

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EOps Technology has outed its new Outercover P1, P2, and P3 cases for the first-generation iPad. Designed by Michael Young, the P-series is a collection of folio-style cases featuring integrated travel document pockets on the front, a polycarbonate hard shell rear, a front cover made from non-woven felt and genuine sheep leather that doubles as a typing and viewing stand, a hand strap, and an elastic band for secure closure. EOps’ Outercover P1, P2, and P3 cases for the first-generation iPad are listed as coming in “early 2011;” further release and pricing details have yet to be announced.

Samsung brings legal battle with Apple to U.S.

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Samsung has expanded its legal battle with Apple, filing a lawsuit against the iPhone-maker in U.S. federal court. Bloomberg reports that Samsung is claiming that Apple infringes on 10 of its patents related to “fundamental innovations that increase mobile device reliability, efficiency, and quality, and improve user interface in mobile handsets and other products.” “Samsung is continuing to respond actively to the legal action taken against us,” the company said in an statement. Apple first sued Samsung on April 18, stating, “[r]ather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products.” Samsung quickly countersued in South Korea, Japan, and Germany, claiming infringement on 10 patents by the iPhone and iPad; according to recent comments made by Apple COO Tim Cook, Apple is Samsung’s biggest customer and considers them a valued component supplier, and that he expects their strong relationship to continue despite the lawsuit.

iLounge posts white iPhone 4 review addendum

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After checking the newly-released white iPhone 4’s body, camera, and proximity sensor for previously reported issues, iLounge has just posted a detailed addendum to our prior full-length iPhone 4 review. Nearly 20 new photographs and many new pieces of information can be found inside. Despite the similarities between models, we did find differences in the two handsets that interested readers will want to check out before taking the plunge. You can read our full review here.

Gameloft releases official game for ‘Fast Five’

Gameloft has released an official iOS game for Universal Pictures’ new action-thriller “Fast Five.” Recreating the high-speed action from the movie, the game puts players in the role of Brian O’Conner, a wanted fugitive who must build a team of top drivers to avoid capture. Players take the wheel of various cars from the film such as the 2011 Dodge Challenger and race through the streets of places such as Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong and the Dominican Republic avoiding explosions and structural collapses that change the track and create new obstacles in their path. Players can customize their vehicles with tuning packs to improve performance and the game includes a Rewind Time feature to allow users to quickly replay after a crash and both local and online multiplayer support for up to 10 players. Fast Five the Movie: Official Game is available from the App Store in separate iPhone and iPad versions for $5 each.

DODOcase intros BOOKback for iPad 2, iPhone 4

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DODOcase has introduced its new BOOKback rear covers for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4. Made from the same Moroccan book fabric used in the company’s eponymous folio cases, the BOOKback covers attach to the devices using a reusable, peel-and-stick adhesive, and feature the DODOcase logo debossed in either black or red, as well as cutouts for access to the devices’ cameras, and, in the case of the iPad 2, the speaker; the iPad 2 version is also compatible with Apple’s iPad Smart Covers. DODOcase’s BOOKbacks for iPad 2 and iPhone 4 are available now and sell for $20 and $9, respectively.

Fishlabs releases Galaxy on Fire 2 expansion pack

Fishlabs has released the first add-on for its epic iOS sci-fi adventure game, Galaxy on Fire 2, delivering gameplay improvements, new in-game content and a brand new storyline. In creating the new add-on, Fishlabs engaged the existing fan base to determine the improvements that players themselves most wanted to see and used these ideas to develop the Valkyrie add-on. The expansion picks up where the main storyline leaves off continuing Keith T. Maxwell’s galactic adventures as he now attempts to unravel a conspiracy orchestrated by a mysterious and cunning new enemy. The new add-on provides new spaceships, weapons and equipment including guided missiles, mines, automated turrets, emergency shields and repair robots as well as nine new planets across four solar systems and a black market trading system that can be used to acquire illicit equipment and rare goods. The free game update also now allows players to buy their own space station to store multiple spaceships and store valuable goods and introduces refurbished versions of three classic spaceships from the original Galaxy on Fire saga. Galaxy on Fire 2 is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $10; the Valkyrie add-on sells as an in-app purchase for an additional $5.

Mix: Foxconn + iPad 2, South Park, iOS 5 testing, NPD

  • April 28, 2011

Three employees of Apple assembler Foxconn have been arrested in relation to early leaks of the iPad 2’s design. DigiTimes reports that the three employees were arrested on December 26, 2010 and were charged on March 23 for violating company trade secrets; the three reportedly leaked the design to outside accessory companies in China, allowing them to begin producing cases for the iPad 2 prior to its public unveiling.

Apple was a main subject of the season 15 premiere of the animated series South Park, which aired last night. In the episode, entitled “HUMANCENTiPad,” Kyle failed to read the terms and conditions of the latest iTunes update, thus allowing Apple to track his location and subjecting himself to a human experiment meant to become Apple’s latest product. The full episode is available for viewing online at southparkstudios.com; some of the material may be objectionable to some readers.

Apple is in the process of testing iOS 5 with third-party applications, according to a new report. Citing the logs of WhereTo developer FutureTap, the new OS is being tested by both Apple and AT&T, on both the iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad. Apple is widely expected to preview iOS 5 at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Momentum from the launch of the Verizon iPhone allowed Apple to gain on Android in U.S. smartphone sales for the first time since Q209, according to the latest data from NPD’s “Mobile Phone Track” service. As reprinted by MacDailyNews, Apple’s iOS accounted for 28 percent of all U.S. smartphone sales in Q1 2011, up nine percent from the prior quarter, while Android’s share of sales dropped three percentage points to 50 percent. Overall, Q1 2011 marked the first time a majority—54 percent—of new mobile handsets sold in the U.S. were smartphones.

White iPhone 4 unboxing photos posted

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It has taken longer than we anticipated—ten months longer, in fact—but iLounge has now posted full unboxing photos for the white iPhone 4. Noticeable in the photos is the radically redesigned proximity sensor, as well as the modestly different packaging, and other details; also included are comparison shots of the white iPhone 4 with the white iPad 2 and black iPhone 4. Continue reading to see the full set of images.

Update: We’ve augmented the gallery below with additional photos, which have been posted to our Flickr account.

White iPhone 4 launches to short lines in U.S.

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The white iPhone 4 has officially launched in the U.S. to short lines and constrained supply. One iLounge editor found himself in line outside an Apple retail store this morning with only four or five others, two of which were Apple employees. Notably, this particular Apple Store’s launch supply was quite low, estimated to be only 40 units—somewhat surprising given the long build up to the launch. In addition, white iPhone 4 units are now out on display in Apple’s retail stores, giving potential—or just curious—customers a chance to view the device first-hand.

Apple cuts CDMA iPhone 4 orders in half?

Apple has significantly cut its orders for the CDMA iPhone 4, according to a new report. Citing upstream component makers, DigiTimes reports that Pegatron Technology, which recently announced a net quarterly loss of roughly $19.38 million, has already seen a reduction in orders from Apple. It goes on to say that future shipment volumes may not be as strong as expected, as Pegatron was expected to ship 10 million CDMA iPhone 4s in 2011, but now that estimate has dropped to only five million units. Notably, Verizon Wireless CFO Fran Shammo recently hinted that the next iPhone would offer both CDMA and GSM connectivity in a single handset; it is unclear whether this device would be manufactured solely by Foxconn, Apple’s traditional iPhone assembler, or by Pegatron, or a combination of the two companies.

Apple purchases iCloud.com domain for $4.5 million?

Apple has purchased the iCloud.com domain name for $4.5 million, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous tipster, GigaOM reports that iCloud.com was until recently used by Sweden-based Xcerion for its cloud-based storage service, which has since been rebranded as CloudMe. The source, who is said to be familiar with the company, said Xcerion sold the iCloud domain to Apple for $4.5 million, although the Whois database still lists Xcerion as the owner of the domain. As noted in the article, Apple is reportedly working on a cloud-based “locker” for content that could be branded as iCloud; it could also be considering the name for its upcoming cloud-based music service.

Update: Citing sources “in position to know,” AllThingsD reports that it has “confirmed” Apple’s purchase of the iCloud.com domain name.

White iPhone 4 now available online

The white iPhone 4 is now available online from the Apple Store, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless. On Apple’s store, the elusive handset is listed with an estimated shipment wait of 3-5 business days, while AT&T does not list any wait times, and Verizon Wireless is offering an expected shipment date of April 29. Apple will also be offering the white iPhone 4 in its retail stores beginning this morning; it appears as though most stores will be opening at their regularly scheduled time for the launch.

Apple execs Jobs, Schiller, Forstall talk iOS location

Ina Fried of AllThingsD has conducted a phone interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller, and Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall, during which the Apple executives a number of comments relating to the iOS location data issue, as well as the white iPhone. For the most part, the executives simply reiterated points the company made in its earlier Q&A document, but Jobs did reveal that he expected Apple to testify before Congress about such technologies, and that he thinks it is “great that they are investigating this.” He also briefly mentioned the traffic service alluded to in the aforementioned Q&A document, saying “that is all we are going to mention at this point in time before we have something to announce,” and brushed aside a question about his timeline for returning to work full-time at the company.

Discussing the white iPhone 4, Schiller described the process of making the handset as “challenging,” saying, “it’s not as simple as making something white. There’s a lot more that goes into both the material science of it–how it holds up over time… but also in how it all works with the sensors.” He added that while there were unexpected interactions between the color and various internal components, the white paint also required more UV protection than the black model. “We thought we were there a year ago, or less than that, when we launched the iPhone 4 and we weren’t,” Schiller said, adding that the wait allowed them to deliver a product that was up to expectations. Jobs also noted that the work necessary to bring the white iPhone 4 to market benefitted the company in other areas, saying, “[w]e obviously think about this in a generic way because you have a white iPad.” Apple will launch the white iPhone 4 tomorrow.

Kik Messenger adds photo support, security features

Kik Interactive has released an update to its real-time messenger app for the iPhone and iPod touch adding support for sending and receiving photos and additional privacy and security features. Kik Messenger is a free multi-platform messaging app for the iPhone, iPod touch and Android that allows users to communicate in real-time, avoiding the costs associated with text messaging solutions. Further, Kik provides full two-way status notifications to track whether messages have been delivered, read or are even in the process of being typed, providing a similar experience to Research in Motion’s proprietary BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.

Kik Messenger 5.0 adds the ability to send pictures from the iPhone or iPod touch photo library to other Kik users and allows users to set their profile picture from the photo library. The new version also provides the ability to block other users and adds SSL encryption for secure messaging. Kik Messenger is available from the App Store as a free download.

Fring releases group video calling

Fring has released its free group video calling feature publicly with an update to its iOS application. Originally debuted in a closed beta earlier this month, Fring now allows up to four iPhone and/or Android users to participate in a group video conference over either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. Users can start a video call normally and then simply add friends to the existing call at which point the screen is divided into four panels to display each of the other three callers along with the current user’s preview video. As with Fring’s normal two-way video calling feature, group video calls run on the Fring network and require that all callers be using the latest version of Fring for iOS or Android. Fring is available from the App Store as a free download.

AR.FlyingAce lands in App Store

Parrot has released AR.FlyingAce, the highly anticipated augmented reality game for its AR.Drone iOS-controlled Quadicopter. Previewed earlier this month, the free app allows two AR.Drone owners to compete in head-to-head dogfights using the quadricopters’ integrated cameras to track and virtually “shoot down” their opponents. Players compete in a time-based game where they attempt to score hits on each other with virtual plasma missiles that are fired by shaking their iOS device. At the end of each game, the player who scores the most points is declared the winner. AR.FlyingAce is available from the App Store as a free download and requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 4.0 or later, and of course an AR.Drone Quadricopter.

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