Apple has released Apple TV Software Update 4.2.2, the latest software update for its second-generation set-top box. Apple has yet to update its Apple TV software update support page, so it is unclear what bug fixes or other improvements might be included in the update. Apple TV Software Update 4.2.2 is available now via the device’s software update feature.
Gameloft has released a new Multiplayer Map Pack for N.O.V.A. 2 for iOS. The new map pack provides three additional multiplayer maps with brand new battlefields and 10 free experience levels in multiplayer mode. The three new maps each provide unique gameplay features for different multiplayer combat styles. Floating Rocks puts the player in the midst of a series of low-orbit platforms that can be used as vantage points for close-range conflict between small teams while Aquarius Beach supports a longer-range gameplay with numerous sniper nests, natural cover and numerous paths. The third map, Icy Bridge, provides a large team battlefield where players fight for control of a strategic central facility. The Map Pack is available as an in-app purchase for $2 and requires the most recent version 1.1.7 update available from the App Store.
A number of iPad 2 users are reporting color gamma issues during video playback. Based on the user observations in an Apple Support Communities discussion as well as on the iLounge Forums, the problem is apparent across apps and different video formats, manifests itself as an extreme loss in contrast, and is even more noticeable when the device is connected to a larger display via Apple’s Digital AV Adapter, an issue that was noted in our review. The users do report that changing the orientation of the device appears to fix the issue for a brief moment, but no permanent solution has yet been found; it is likely that the issue can be fixed via an iOS software update.
iLounge’s contest for the upcoming iPad 2 Buyers’ Guide—Design The iPad 3 + iPad mini—is entering its second week, with $2,800 in prizes up for grabs. Entries have already started to arrive, and we’re excited to see more!
In the contest, we’re asking you to create a brand-new artistic rendition of what Apple’s future iPads should look like, including the on-screen interface. We’ll be selecting winners based on both the plausibility and cool factor of their designs, including how the devices’ interfaces might deal with a smaller screen size or increase in resolution. Three winners each will be selected for the iPad 3 and iPad mini categories; two Grand Prize winners will receive Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air systems, two First Runners Up will receive Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Speakers, and two Second Runners Up will receive Zeppelin Mini systems. The contest begins today and ends on May 26, 2011 at 11:59PM Pacific Time; winners will be announced in the iPad 2 Buyers’ Guide on June 1, 2011. You can submit your entry here. Good luck!
Third Rail Mobility has unveiled its new modular Battery Case system for the iPhone 4. Unlike traditional battery cases, which feature integrated, non-removable batteries, Third Rail’s solution combines a slim case with a detachable 1250 mAh lithium ion battery pack, allowing users to remove the battery when it isn’t needed, or swap a depleted battery out for a charged cell for extended use. In addition to charging the iPhone, the batteries can also be used to charge other devices via a micro USB adapter; the case itself offers full access to all ports, controls, and cameras, save for the Dock Connector. Third Rail Mobility’s new Battery Case system for the iPhone 4 is available now and sells for $90; the slim case is available separately for $40, while additional batteries sell for $60 each.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a new network that will bring emergency alerts for hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disasters to consumer cellphones. Dubbed the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), the network will allow officials to send geographically-targeted text messages to cellphones in areas where potentially dangerous conditions exist, according to a USA Today report. “The traditional alerts on radio and TV are still important, and they will continue, but more and more, mobile devices are becoming essential. You have them with you,” says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “In the event of a major disaster, government authorities can get lifesaving information to you quickly.”
The four largest cellular providers in the U.S.—Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile—have all signed on to voluntarily initiate the service prior to an April 2012 deadline. According to the report, some iPhone models already have the circuitry necessary to receive PLAN alerts, although a software update will be necessary to activate the feature. The report did not specify which iPhone models have the necessary circuitry. Notably, all customers are automatically signed up for alerts, but can opt out of alerts relating to imminent threats to life and safety, as well as Amber Alerts; presidential alerts can not be disabled.
Avantar has released an update to White & Yellow Pages for iOS adding speech recognition for iPhone users. White & Yellow Pages allows U.S. users to search for people or businesses by name and phone number. The app also provides GPS driving directions integrated with the Navigon or TomTom apps and users can also save items to the iOS contacts or add them to an in-app favorites list. Version 4.1 adds a new speech recognition feature for conducting voice-based searches on the iPhone as well as new customizable tabs and shortcuts and a “Popular Tab” for summarizing recent popular searches. White & Yellow Pages is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
This week’s featured photo is from our iPads Around the World gallery, and shows a black iPad 2 “enjoying the view” of Squapan Lake in Maine. To share your photos and to be considered for our Photo of the Week, you simply need to submit your own photo to one of our galleries. So get out there, take some pictures featuring your favorite iPod, iPad, or iPhone and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has added AirPlay video support to its official iPad app making it among the first major network television providers to allow wireless video streaming from the iPad to an HDTV. CBC TV provides iPad users with on-demand access to such popular CBC programs as Dragons’ Den, Republic of Doyle, Being Erica and the Rick Mercer Report. With the latest version, iOS 4.3 users can now stream video content from the app directly to an Apple TV using AirPlay. Additional new features include improvements to location detection and network, stability and graphic performance. CBC TV 1.1 is available from the Canadian App Store as a free download. AirPlay video support requires iOS 4.3 or later and an Apple TV running Software version 4.2 or later.
GelaSkins is now offering a range of decorative skins for the second-generation Apple TV. Available in a wide variety of designs, the protective skins cover the top, front, left, and right sides of the Apple TV, leaving openings for the device’s rear ports, status light, and IR receiver. The company promises easy application and clean removal of the 1mm thick skins thanks to 3M adhesive technology, and each set also includes a matching skin for the aluminum Apple Remote. GelaSkins’ decorative skins for the second-generation Apple TV are available now and sell for $20 each.
ModulR has introduced its new customizable case for the iPad 2. Expanding on the design of the original, which featured four round bumpers on the rear for connecting to a variety of accessories, the modulR iPad 2 case is a hardshell, Smart Cover-compatible case, offering open access to all ports and controls, as well as an included hand strap. Optional accessories include a car headrest strap, a wall mount, a Cover Stand the protects the device’s front while serving as a viewing and typing stand, a fridge mount, a quick stand, and a shoulder strap. ModulR’s new case for the iPad 2 will be available later this month and will sell for $40; the accessories are priced from $15 to $30.
Screenlife has released a major update to the popular movie trivia game Scene It Movies for iOS. Effectively a whole new app available as a free update, Scene It Movies 2 features re-invented gameplay that allows users to customize and expand the game with categories and downloadable content packs and compete with and against friends via Apple Game Center achievements, leaderboards and challenges. The new version also adds AirPlay enabled Party Play allowing users to view Scene It Movie clips on the big screen using an Apple TV. Additional new features include the ability to wager in-game winnings, new power-ups for quizzes and the ability to collect and share special unlockable scenes. Scene It Movies 2 requires iOS 4.1 or later and is available from the App Store for $1; it is a free update for users of the original version.
Google today announced the preliminary launch of its new cloud-based music service. Dubbed Music Beta by Google, the service allows users to upload up to 20,000 songs—including iTunes libraries and playlists—for playback across devices. Features include an automatic playlist creation tool, similar in concept to Apple’s Genius feature, automatic wireless syncing, and the ability to “pin” music for offline access. The service is currently available by invitation only and will be free while in beta; formal pricing has yet to announced. In addition to the Music Beta service, Google today also announced movie rentals from the Android Market, an Android Open Accessory initiative for creating third-party accessories, and the Android @ Home protocol that will allow Android devices to communicate with other products, such as lighting, audio, appliances, and heating/cooling systems, using low-voltage technology. More information on Google’s announcements is available on This Is My Next.
Following last week’s release of Photoshop CS5.5, Adobe’s Photoshop Touch apps for the iPad have now appeared on the App Store. Originally announced last month, the new Photoshop Touch SDK allows third-party developers to create mobile and tablet apps that integrate with Photoshop running on a Mac or Windows PC. To demonstrate this new functionality, Adobe has developed three of its own companion apps for the iPad.
Adobe Color Lava for Photoshop ($3) allows users to create custom colours and colour themes by mixing colours on the iPad touchscreen to create custom swatches and five-swatch themes. Custom colours and themes can be saved on the iPad and accessed within Photoshop CS5 using a Wi-Fi connection between the iPad and the desktop computer. Adobe Eazel for Photoshop ($5) acts as a drawing pad to allow iPad users to create paintings on the touchscreen that can be sent from the iPad into Photoshop CS5 for further processing. The app incorporates a new painting technology with a unique interaction between “wet” and “dry” paint that allows for more advanced painting techniques.
The third app, Adobe Nav for Photoshop ($2) turns the iPad into a control pad for Photoshop CS5 running on a desktop computer. Nav connects to Photoshop over Wi-Fi and allows users to access various Photoshop tools and select open documents using the iPad touchscreen as a control surface. Users can customize the Photoshop CS5 toolbar on the iPad to access their most-used functions and browse, reorder, view and zoom in on up to 200 open Photoshop documents. All three apps are now available from the App Store and require an iPad running iOS 4.3 or later and Adobe Photoshop CS5 version 12.0.4 or later on the desktop.
Microsoft has announced that it has entered into an agreement with Skype Global to acquire VoIP service provider Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. According to the announcement, the agreement has already been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and “will increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications, bringing benefits to both consumers and enterprise users and generating significant new business and revenue opportunities.” With 170 million users, Skype will be integrated into Microsoft devices like Xbox, Windows Phone, and Windows, while Microsoft will in turn connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities, and will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on other, non-Microsoft platforms.
“Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”
“Microsoft and Skype share the vision of bringing software innovation and products to our customers,” said Skype CEO Tony Bates, who will assume the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division. “Together, we will be able to accelerate Skype’s plans to extend our global community and introduce new ways for everyone to communicate and collaborate.”
If you’re an iPad developer with a major new app, game, or iPad 2 accessory you’d like to see featured in our upcoming iPad 2 Buyers’ Guide, you’d best hurry: our deadline for submissions is this coming Friday, May 13. To submit an accessory or product, simply email our Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz at (jeremy-at-ilounge-dot-com) for additional information today.
Eton has debuted its new Soulra XL speaker system for the iPod and iPhone. Based on the company’s prior Soulra sound system, the Soulra XL features an integrated 72 sq. in. solar panel for charging, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack good for up to five hours of playback, eight speaker drivers—two tweeters, two woofers, and four passive radiators—22 Watts of total output, rubberized end caps, an anti-glare tinted docking chamber, an included remote control with integrated storage, and a removable, gel-cushioned carrying strap. The Eton Soulra XL speaker system for iPod and iPhone is available for pre-order and is expected to ship later this month for $300.
Ion Audio has announced that it is now shipping its Anyroom wireless speaker for the iPod and iPhone. Using an included 30-pin connecting transmitter, Anyroom promises uncompressed audio streaming from an iPod or iPhone to the speaker. Other features include 32 Watts of total speaker output, a range of up to 300 yards, RCA audio inputs and outputs, and the ability to expand the system with additional Anyroom units. Ion Audio’s Anyroom wireless speaker for the iPod and iPhone is available now and sells for $200.
Fortune Magazine has posted a lengthy, multi-page article concerning Apple in its May, 23 2011 issue. The article discusses Apple’s internal structure as it relates to the company’s performance, internal projects designed to help guide the company after Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ eventual departure, and a particularly colorful internal meeting on Apple’s campus after the rocky launch of MobileMe. A brief portion of the article, which contains some NSFW language, is available online; the full article is available in the full print issue, or in the iPad version, which sells for $5.
KT in South Korea has debuted its new WKF-B2500 WiMax sleeve for the iPhone 4. The B2500 provides the iPhone 4 with a fourth-generation WiMax wireless connection, and also offers an internal 1500mAh battery, and open access to all ports, controls, and cameras, save for the Dock Connector. According to Akihabara News, the sleeve sells for 128,000 Won, or roughly $118.
CleanerGear has introduced the Squeegit, a new cleaning tool for the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and other touchscreen devices. The Squeegit is a squeegee-like cleaning tool with a built-in reservoir and sprayer for the included CleanAid cleaning solution, letting users spray down and wipe off their displays without the need to carry around two separate items. The Squeegit is available now and sells for $15.
Designer Seth Quest is now accepting pre-orders for the new Hanfree iPad stand. Available with either a hardwood alder or plastic base, the Hanfree consists of a base, a pivoting stainless steel neck, and an iPad case with an integrated ball and socket joint for 360-degree rotation on the end of the neck. The Hanfree has reached its funding goal on Kickstarter and will retail for $80; those who pledge now can get the plastic version for $50, or the limited edition alder version for $200.
Apple is reportedly in talks with Nuance Communications over the use of its voice recognition services in iOS 5. Citing multiple anonymous sources, TechCrunch reports that Apple has been in talks with Nuance for months, possibly over an acquisition, but more likely over a far-reaching licensing agreement and or partnership. As noted in the report, Siri, the voice-based personal assistance and search service acquired by Apple in April 2010, relies on Nuance technology for its services; Siri technology is said to play a large role in iOS 5, and the report claims that Apple has yet to successfully renegotiate the original deal between Siri and Nuance. The report cites Nuance’s $6 billion market cap as a major obstacle in any acquisition talks, as much of this value comes from the company’s various licensing deals, many of which could potentially dry up should Apple take control of the company. Nuance also develops a number of iOS apps, which it sells under its Dragon brand.
Update: According to a second report from TechCrunch, Apple has reached a deal with Nuance that will allow it to run and build upon Nuance’s software at its new data center in North Carolina. The deal will enable Apple to process voice information for iOS users more quickly, and prevent such data from going through third-party servers.