CNN has introduced live streaming of its 24-hour television networks via its web site and iOS apps for subscribers in the U.S., making it the first news organization to provide a service of this nature. With this launch, CNN.com is also debuting a higher-quality video player capable of delivering HD quality streams to users. CNN streaming will be available to subscribers of participating TV providers such as AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Dish Network, Suddenlink and Verizon; users will be required to validate their cable, satellite or telco provider by logging in with a username and password before being granted access to the live video streams. In addition to the live network stream, users can also continue to access four specific live streams for breaking news and events as well as access on-demand video clips. For iOS users, the new streaming video requires the latest version of the free CNN App for iPhone (U.S.) or CNN App for iPad and iOS 4.0 or later.
Electric Pocket has released Coverjam, a new iOS application that displays dynamic slideshows of images related to the songs a user is listening to. Coverjam takes the currently playing track and searches for photos on Instagram and Flickr tagged with the artist’s name, presenting the images in a full-screen slideshow as the user listens. Typical photos that Coverjam finds and displays include shots of the band on stage, publicity stills and fan photos inspired by the band. A fresh slide-set appears each time a new track starts playing and the app allows users to share their favourite photos on Twitter, Facebook or via e-mail or flag unwanted photos to remove them from future slideshows. Users can select music for playback within Coverjam or simply open the app while a track is already playing to load photos for the current song. The app is available in two versions: The basic version, Coverjam, is free and ad-supported and is an iPhone and iPod touch app; Coverjam Pro sells for $1 and is an ad-free universal app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
Gameloft has released an iPad version of its popular Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard title released for the iPhone and iPod touch earlier this year. As with the iPhone version, Shadow Vanguard HD is an FPS game where the player leads a team of elite soldiers on a quest to stop an organization of global terrorists. Unlike traditional FPS games, the player must not only control their own character but provide tactical direction to the other team members in order to accomplish each mission. The game includes eleven missions with levels based on the original Rainbow Six game such as the Embassy Hostage Crisis and the infiltration of a rebel camp in Africa and a new Rainbow unit with three new members and unique abilities. Multiplayer support allows players to join with up to two friends as additional team members in cooperative play through the standard missions or go head-to-head against up to ten other players across five additional specific multiplayer maps. Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard HD is available from the App Store for $7.
Amazon has launched a new service allowing students to save money by renting textbooks in electronic form. Kindle Textbook Rental allows students to choose from a catalog of tens of thousands of textbooks for their 2011 school year from leading publishers such as John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier and Taylor & Francis and rent them as e-books for only the period of time required for their course work. Users can customize rental periods to any length between 30 and 360 days with pricing based on the rental period, offering pricing up to 80% off the list price of the print versions of the same text books. Existing rentals can be easily extended in increments as small as one day simply by paying for the extra days, and users can re-extend their rental as often as necessary or simply pay to convert the rental to a purchased book.
Kindle Textbook Rental uses a “Rent Once, Read Everywhere” model allowing users to access any of their rented textbooks on any Kindle-supported device, including the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch or on a PC or Mac or other supported smartphone platforms. Amazon has also enhanced its Whispersync technology to preserve notes, annotations and highlighted content in rental textbooks with a user’s Amazon account indefinitely so that if they subsequently rent the same textbook again in the future, all of the annotations will appear as the user left them. The Amazon Kindle app is available from the App Store as a free download. More information on the Kindle Textbook Rental service can be found at http://www.amazon.com/kindletextbooks.
Fortune reports that shipping times for the iPad 2 have now improved to a more standard 1-3 business days. Since the initial launch of the iPad 2 in early March Apple has found it difficult to keep up with the demand for the device with shipping times originally starting at 3-4 weeks and very recently being reduced to 3-5 days. As of this past weekend, all models are now showing as available within 1-3 business days.
- July 18, 2011
Following Apple’s filing of a second patent infringement claim against HTC early last week, the U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that HTC did in fact infringe two of Apple’s patents in Android-based phones. Bloomberg reports that HTC was found to have infringed two out of ten patents presented by Apple, an initial ruling that remains subject to review by a full six-member commission. While HTC has indicated that it will “vigorously fight these two remaining patents” on appeal, should the ITC uphold the finding of infringement, U.S. imports of some HTC Android phones could be banned, or the company could be required to pay royalties and license the patents in question from Apple. Additional Android phones from other manufacturers may be impacted by the ruling, as well.
Apple has released iOS 4.3.4, the latest version of its mobile operating system for the iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM) and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. According to Apple’s release notes, the update fixes a security vulnerability associated with viewing malicious PDF files. Apple’s support article provides additional details noting that the issue is related to handling of TrueType and Type 1 fonts that could allow viewing of a “maliciously crafted PDF file” to lead to “unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution.” iOS 4.3.4 (build 8K2) is available now via the Update feature in iTunes; a similar update, iOS 4.2.9 (build 8E601), is also available for the CDMA iPhone 4.
The Telegraph reports that Apple Korea has been ordered to pay 1 million won ($945 USD) in compensation to a Korean iPhone user for collecting location data without consent. Lawyer Kim Hyong-souk launched a suit against the company following the discovery in April that the iPhone had been quietly storing users’ locations on the device. Similar lawsuits have been launched in the U.S. although the Korean case represents the first payout as a result of these complaints. Kim’s law firm, Mirae Law is now preparing a class-action lawsuit against Apple for the unauthorized data collection.
- July 15, 2011
Verizon Wireless has confirmed that its LTE phones will not “be compatible on other LTE networks in the U.S” due to frequency differences, according to a PCMag report. The article notes that although the new 4G LTE system being implemented by Verizon, MetroPCS and AT&T uses a SIM card system similar to GSM, carriers such as Verizon may be building phones to run only on their own wireless frequencies, preventing their devices from being used on competing networks, even for roaming where Verizon-specific LTE coverage may be unavailable.
Although both Verizon and AT&T use the 700MHz LTE band, their networks use different frequencies within that spectrum with very little overlap. Other U.S. carriers use 1700MHz and 1500MHz frequencies, while even more LTE bands are available to international carriers, suggesting that it may also be challenging to roam internationally with LTE devices. It is unclear at this point what plans other carriers such as AT&T have with regard to the frequencies used by their LTE phones, and whether Apple will be able to offer universal LTE world phones that avoid the need for multiple versions.
Laminar Research has released another update to its X-Plane series of flight simulator apps for iOS devices adding simulated systems failures to the experience. Continuing its focus on developing the most realistic flight simulator experiences possible on the iOS platform, Laminar has been consistently updating the entire collection of X-Plane applications with new planes and scenery, new aircraft features and regular tweaks to the flight dynamics for the different aircraft.
Version 9.7 brings X-Plane’s realism to a new level by adding a plethora of system failures that the user can optionally enable and practice dealing with, much like actual flight instructors would do. System failures available in X-Plane 9.7 include flight-control failures, engine failures, landing gear failures, tire blowouts, brake failures and even bird strikes which can be configured to take place instantly or randomly. Failures such as bird-strikes may even cascade into additional systems failures. The aerodynamics and flight model will respond accordingly to systems failures, making the aircraft more difficult to handle and creating unique challenges.
X-Plane for the iPhone and iPod touch is available in several versions divided by category of aircraft: the original X-Plane 9 ($5) includes a series of general aviation aircraft ranging from the venerable Cessna 172 to the concept single-engine Cirrus Jet, with other specific versions available such as X-Plane Airliner ($5), X-Plane Helicopter ($5) and X-Plane Extreme ($5) and more. The iPad version, X-Plane for iPad ($10) includes the full collection of different aircraft and locations from the various iPhone versions all within a single app in an interface optimized for iPad users.
Tapbots has released an update to Tweetbot, its popular Twitter client with the aim of adding push notification support as an experimental feature. Unfortunately, shortly after the recent update hit the App Store, Tapbots reported that the push service actually wasn’t working due to provisioning profile issues and noted that it will be fixed in the next update once it clears the App Store approval process.
As noted in the company’s blog, the service is tied to Twitter’s Site Streaming API which is in beta. As a result, Tapbots is only able to monitor a limited number of accounts and will only be initially rolling out the push notification service to 1,000 Twitter accounts on a first-come, first-served basis for those users who install the newer version and actually enable the push notification features. Tweetbot 1.4 does include several other small improvements, however, including the ability to publish text notes with tweets, remembering tabs when switching between accounts, and viewing tweets from other users’ public Twitter lists. Tweetbot 1.4 is available from the App Store for $3.
Update: Version 1.4.1 is now available which fixes the problems related to push notification support. It appears however that all 1,000 available positions have already been taken.
Gameloft has released 9mm, a new action adventure game for iOS in which players take on the role of John “Loose” Kannon, the leader of a special team of hardened cops who become a target for revenge after taking out a local drug lord’s brother and stealing millions in cash. Kannon’s team is left with no choice but to take down the enemy gang leader first by any means necessary. The game provides fast-paced action where players dive into gunfights jumping, shooting and firing in slow-motion stunts as destructible environments splinter and explode from the gunfire.
Players can choose from an arsenal of weapons ranging from pistols to grenade launchers and fight across a variety of locations such as Latino suburbs, night clubs, police departments and more. Multiplayer support allows players to join friends and opponents in free play and team deathmatch games with up to 12 players across four different maps. A background hip-hop soundtrack intensifies the tone of the game along with high-quality graphics optimized especially for the iPad 2. 9mm is a universal app compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third and fourth-generation iPod touch and the iPad and is available from the App Store for $7.
G5 Entertainment has released a new mystery adventure game, Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds. In the game, players take on the role of two New York City detectives assigned to a new investigative unit, the Special Enquiry Detail, where they must solve their first case: the shocking death of the daughter of wealthy benefactors. The player must help with forensics, investigate clues and interrogate suspects in order to uncover the trail that leads to the murder. The game provides 12 chapters across 30 locations and includes 25 mini-games throughout an immersive storyline along with Retina Display support and integration with Apple’s Game Center. The game is available in two free trial versions: Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds for the iPhone and iPod touch and Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds HD for the iPad. The full game can be unlocked in either version via in-app purchase for $5 for the iPhone/iPod touch or $7 for the iPad.
Vito Technology has released an update to its popular Star Walk astronomy application for the iOS platform adding a comprehensive database of the approximately 8,000 currently functioning satellites presently orbiting the Earth. The database includes not only information on the satellites but also their exact positions over the ground providing for real-time tracking capabilities of interest to both hobbyist astronomers and users looking to orient satellite receivers for better reception. Star Walk 5.3 organizes the list of satellites by categories such as Special Interest, Weather & Earth Resources, Communications, Navigation, and more.
The latest update is also dedicated to the Star Walk Month of Astronomy: For one month starting July 14th the Star Walk team will be sharing the most interesting space discoveries and running a series of educational contests about the Universe. More information on the Month of Astronomy can be found on the company’s web site. Star Walk is available in two versions: Star Walk ($3) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Star Walk for iPad ($5).
Apple has announced plans to enable businesses to purchase iOS applications in bulk. As explained on the company’s website, the Volume Purchasing for Business program will enable businesses that enroll in the program to purchase multiple copies of participating apps on the App Store. To facilitate distribution, businesses will be able to download a spreadsheet of redemption codes—one for each license purchased—that can be distributed to employees so they may download the app. To enroll, developers need to accept the latest Paid Developer Agreement; Apple has the new program listed as “coming soon.” Notably, the program is currently only available in the U.S., and enables a distribution model that had been requested by developers and businesses alike.
Popular European music-streaming service Spotify has now officially launched in the United States, along with the iOS app. The service and accompanying application provide users with access to a library of approximately 15 million music tracks. In addition to online streaming capabilities, iOS device users can sync their Spotify playlists to their device to listen even when no Internet connection is available and wirelessly sync their local music collection to merge it with the Spotify cloud. The app also includes the ability to create and sync playlists, receive music from friends via the inbox, star favourite tracks and scribble tracks to the Last.fm service.
The service is launching in the U.S. initially in an invite-only beta phase during which the company will be offering three plans: Spotify Free, its free ad-supported music service, Spotify Unlimited which provides ad-free PC-based access for $5/month and Spotify Premium which provides full online and offline access from a computer or mobile device along with enhanced sound quality and access to exclusive content for $10/month. Users can request an invitation from the Spotify web site for access to the free service or sign up directly for the Unlimited or Premium services without requiring an invite. The Spotify app is available as a free download from the U.S. App Store.
Film Festival TV is a new free app by Culture Unplugged designed to provide access to a global collection of documentaries and films by independent film-makers, activists, grassroots production organizations and purpose-driven institutions. Presenting stories by film-makers from 113 different countries, Film Festival TV is a philanthropic offering from Culture Unplugged Festivals with the aim of uplifting collective consciousness and global cultural harmony by revealing the interconnected world and also includes content from non-profit broadcasting network Link TV. Film Festival TV allows users to watch a variety of documentaries, films and stories across a broad variety of subject areas ranging from human rights, peace and democracy to science, politics and globalization. Beyond simply viewing the films, the application also offers users the ability to respond and provide feedback to the film-makers and story tellers through interactive dialogs. Film Festival TV requires an iPad running iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Firemint has released an update to Real Racing 2 adding additional Career mode events to the iPhone and iPod touch version and multiplayer improvements to both versions. iPhone and iPod touch users can now take advantage of seven new Career events including the H2NRG Cup, Nissan GT-R H2H and IEJ Volkswagen Scirocco R Time Trial, among others. Several significant multiplayer changes have also been made to both the iPhone and iPad versions that should improve the gameplay experience, including preventative measures to counteract wall-riding, fairer track selection and a new track voting system and fixes related to high latency connections.
This latest update introduces in-app purchasing for trading real money for in-game currency in order to buy new cars and upgrades. Players can also disable previously purchased upgrades to adjust a car’s performance and P-Rating, allowing users to more easily compete in different race categories and can now trade-in their only car for another model provided they can afford the upgrade price. Additional graphics enhancements have also been added, including anti-aliasing support for third-generation devices and visual improvements to body roll and wheel simulation. A number of other fixes and improvements have been made to optimize performance and enhance game precision. Real Racing 2 is available from the App Store in two versions: Real Racing 2 ($7) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Real Racing 2 HD ($10) for the iPad.
Bongiovi Acoustics has released a new iOS app bringing the company’s patented DPS audio enhancement technology to the on-device listening experience. Known in the iOS community for its inclusion in several of iHome’s speaker products, Bongiovi’s Digital Power Station technology provides real-time audio re-mastering to improve clarity and provide cleaner and deeper bass response, even when using lower-end speakers or headphones. The new universal iOS app allows users to listen to their music, videos and podcasts in their device media library enhanced by DPS technology and optimized for playback through any device connected to the headphone or line-out jack or even the built-in speaker. The app can also compensate for differences in volume between songs, provide enhancement to dialog and sound effects in videos and improve clarity when listening in noisy environments.
Rather than adjusting individual settings, users select from a set of professionally tailored profiles designed to optimize audio for playback through specific types of headphones and speakers. The Bongiovi DPS app is ad-supported and available as a free download from the App Store; the free app includes profiles for the standard Apple earbuds and the built-in speakers of supported iOS devices. Users can purchase an in-app upgrade for an introductory price of $1 to remove the ads and provide access to the full set of audio device profiles, including any new profiles that will become available in the future. Bongiovi DPS requires iOS 4.1 or later and is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch and the IPad.
Apple, along with a host of other well-known companies, has been sued by a Hawaii-based company over technologies related to GPRS 3G data transfer in the iPad and iPhone. AppleInsider reports that GPNE Corp. of Honolulu alleges that Apple is infringing upon three of its patents, by making and selling devices “with the ability to function with GPRS.” Specifically, the patents are related to a “Network Communication System Wherein a Node Obtains Resources for Transmitting Data by Transmitting Two Reservation Requests,” a “Communication System Wherein a Clocking Signal from a Controller, a Request from a Node, Acknowledgement of the Request, and Data Transferred from the Node are All Provided on Different Frequencies, Enabling Simultaneous Transmission of these Signals,” and a “Network Communication System with an Alignment Signal to Allow a Controller to Provide Messages to Nodes and Transmission of the Messages Over Four Independent Frequencies.” Other companies named in the suit include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Garmin, Nokia, Pantech, Research in Motion, Sharp, and Sony Ericsson; GPNE is seeking damages, as well as ongoing post-judgement royalties.