Grace Digital has introduced its new ECO Pod water- and crush-proof case for the iPhone, iPod, and other similarly-sized devices. The ECO Pod meets IPX7 weatherproofing standards, and features a universal 3.5mm headphone jack, a clear front panel, a unique exterior pressure release valve to create an air-tight seal, an internal storage compartment large enough to hold keys, credit cards, ID, and cash, in addition to the electronic device, a polycarbonate outer shell for shock resistance, an included Carabiner clip for attaching to belts, bags, straps, and other surfaces, a rear belt clip, and an included pair of “100% waterproof” earbuds. Grace Digital’s ECO Pod water- and crush-proof case for the iPhone and iPod is available now and sells for $50.
OmniVision, a supplier of camera modules for Apple’s iOS devices, has announced its new OV8850 eight-megapixel sensor suitable for use in a future iPhone or similar device. The new sensor is said to enable modules that are 20 percent slimmer than any 8-megapixel module in commercial use today, and offers “a 20 percent improvement in peak quantum efficiency in all color channels, a 35 percent improvement in low-light sensitivity and a 45 percent increase in full-well capacity in an extremely compact and power efficient package,” according to OmniVision product manager Per Rosdahl. The new sensor also offers an on-chip temperature sensor, alternate row exposure for HDR capabilities, and full field of view 1080p video recording. Notably, the sensor fits in an 8.5mm x 8.5mm autofocus module with a build height of 4.7mm; the module inside the iPhone 4 is 6.5mm, as noted by Mac Rumors. OmniVision says the new sensor will begin sampling in August and is expected to go into mass production in the first calendar quarter of 2012, making it highly unlikely that it will appear in the next-generation iPhone, despite prior reports indicating that it will feature an eight-megapixel camera.
Rdio has released an update to its on-demand subscription music streaming app for the iPhone and iPod touch adding native iPad support. With Rdio 1.2 users can now take advantage of a UI specifically designed for the iPad with high resolution artwork, playful on-screen controls, track listings and portrait and landscape support. As with the iPhone and iPod touch version, Rdio on the iPad also provides access to offline music listening, Rdio social network updates, viewing of user profiles and access to charts, heavy rotation, new releases and recommendations. The latest version also now allows users to purchase Rdio subscriptions from directly within the app via in-app purchase. Rdio 1.2 is available from the App Store as a free download; a subscription for Rdio Unlimited is required to use the app beyond an initial 7-day free trial period.
id Software has released an update to the iOS adaptation of its classic Wolfenstein 3D game adding iPad support, Retina Display graphics and performance and bug fixes. Wolfenstein 3D Classic Platinum is an iOS adaptation of the legendary first-person shooter putting the player in the role of super agent B.J. Blazkowicz who must escape from Castle Wolfenstein and the Nazis. The game includes all six episodes and 60 levels from the original Wolfenstein 3D along with all of the classic weapons, enemies and hidden secrets. Version 2.0 is now a universal app adding support for the iPad and iPad 2 and also updating the graphics for Retina Display devices. The new version also sports new menu graphics, performance increases and numerous bug fixes. Wolfenstein 3D Classic Platinum is available from the App Store for $1.
Semi Secret Software has released an update to its iOS word game, Wurdle, adding iPad support, Retina Display graphics and Game Center integration. Wurdle is a flexible and fast-paced word game that challenges users to find and trace multiple words in a letter grid within a specified time limit. Wurdle 3.0 is now a universal binary providing native iPad support in the single application and also improves the graphics with Retina Display artwork for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. The latest update also adds Game Center integration for leaderboards and online multiplayer support as well as introducing a new split-screen multiplayer mode into the iPad version. Wurdle 3.0 requires iOS 4.1 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
Microsoft has updated OneNote, its note-taking application for iOS devices adding searching and syncing improvements and releasing it in several additional countries. Originally launched exclusively in the U.S. in January, the new version of Microsoft OneNote is now also available to users in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland. Microsoft OneNote allows users to capture ideas and tasks while on-the-go complete with text, pictures, bullets and checkboxes. Notes are synchronized to the cloud via Windows Live SkyDrive and can be edited and managed from a web browser using the OneNote Web App or Microsoft OneNote 2010 for Windows. A free Windows Live ID is required to use the OneNote Mobile app; new users can signup for an ID directly from within OneNote.
Microsoft OneNote version 1.2 also adds the ability to search notebooks, pin recent notes to the top of the recently viewed list and sync shared notebooks via Windows Live SkyDrive. Users can also now choose which notebooks from SkyDrive are synced to their device and set the preferred image size for improved photos to choose between better syncing performance versus higher-quality images. Microsoft OneNote requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download for a limited time.
Taiwan-based Pegatron Technologies has been tapped as a second manufacturing partner for the next-generation iPhone and will begin shipping units next month, according to a new report. Citing industry sources, DigiTimes reports that Apple has ordered 10 million “iPhone 5” units from Pegatron, with shipments to begin in September. The report goes on to state that Pegatron is aiming to complete orders for iPads, MacBook Airs, and other Apple products, and has increased its production capacity and workforce as a result. Notably, a report from earlier this week claimed that the next-generation iPhone would not be launched until October.
David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for Google, has posted an open letter in which he accuses Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and others of waging “a hostile, organized campaign against Android” using what he calls “bogus” patents. “They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Phone 7; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” he writes.
“This anti-competitive strategy is also escalating the cost of patents way beyond what they’re really worth,” Drummond continues. “The winning $4.5 billion for Nortel’s patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion. Fortunately, the law frowns on the accumulation of dubious patents for anti-competitive means — which means these deals are likely to draw regulatory scrutiny, and this patent bubble will pop.”
Following the publication of Drummond’s post, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith stated on Twitter that Microsoft asked Google to bid jointly for the Nortel patents, and that they said no, a claim corroborated by screenshot of an email to Smith from Google General Counsel Kent Walker stating as much, which was published online by Frank X. Shaw of Microsoft. Notably, Google attempted to purchase the Nortel patents on its own, despite its inference that they are of a “dubious” nature; Apple has yet to respond on the issue.
Internet telephony provider Vonage has released Time to Call, a new iOS application allowing users to place short international calls at flat, per-call rates. Vonage Time to Call allows users to make individual calls of up to 15 minutes in duration for a fixed price for each call rather than a per-minute price. Calls are purchased directly from within the application via an in-app purchase linked to the user’s iTunes Store account with per-call prices ranging from $1-10 depending on the destination, with the majority of countries being priced in the $1-2 range. Users simply select the country they wish to call and are then prompted to make an in-app purchase via the iTunes Store for the required per-call price; once the call has been purchased, the user can then dial the number from either the iOS address book or simply by entering it directly.
Unlike direct international calls to many countries, the same per-call rates apply when using Time to Call regardless of whether the user is calling a landline or mobile phone. Vonage Time to Call can be used over a Wi-Fi connection from any country or via a 3G wireless connection in the U.S. and Canada. No Vonage subscription is required; users simply use the iTunes in-app purchasing system to pay for calls as needed. Vonage Time to Call is available from the App Store as a free download; the app currently includes one free call of up to 15 minutes to any one of 100 countries.
iPad Butler, makers of various stands for the iPad and iPad 2, has announced that it is launching its lineup in the U.S. Options include the iPad Butler Carbon Deluxe Stand, a small stand that can be used for wall, desk, or car mounting, the iPad Butler Floor Stand, which serves a support system for the device and positions it at a convenient viewing position and height, and the iPad Butler Security Lock, meant for use a security measure for publicly-displayed iPads. iPad Butler’s new line of stands for the iPad and iPad 2 are available now and sell for $63-$189.
Silvio Rizzi has released an update to his Reeder apps for iOS adding full integration with web-based reading service Readability. Originally introduced in Reeder for Mac last month, Reeder’s Readability integration allows users to not only save articles to the Readability service for later viewing and publisher-crediting, but also provides direct access from within the app to the user’s saved content on Readability.com. With the latest version of Reeder, users can now sync, read offline and manage their Readability reading list from directly within Reeder right alongside their RSS feeds. Reeder is available from the App Store in two versions: Reeder for the iPhone and iPod touch ($3) and Reeder for iPad ($5).
id Software has released an update to Rage and Rage HD for iOS devices adding optimizations for iOS 4 and the iPad 2 along with HDMI TV output support and more. Released last fall, Rage is a first-person on-rails shooter built on id Software’s powerful Tech 5 game engine where the player must travel through a mutant-filled wasteland collecting weapons, ammo and power-ups to survive. The latest update to Rage has been recompiled under iOS 4 for improved compatibility and adds optimizations specific for the iPad 2 capabilities, including 1080p HDMI TV output. Additional improvements include an analog thumbstick control option and a new melee mechanic tweak that can be triggered by shaking the device forward. Rage is available in two universal versions: The standard version, Rage ($1) is designed for the iPad, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and second, third and fourth-generation iPod touch while Rage HD ($2) provides higher-resolution Retina Display graphics optimized for the iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch, iPad and iPad 2.
Griffin Technology has unveiled its new Intellicase for the iPad 2. The Intellicase is a low-profile folio-style case, featuring a hard polycarbonate back, thermoplastic polyurethane front cover, internal magnets for compatibility with the iPad 2’s automatic sleep/wake feature, the ability for the front cover to fold into two positions for use a viewing or typing stand, and open access to all ports, controls, and cameras. Griffin’s Intellicase for iPad 2 is available now and sells for $60.
Apple has been fined by the Korea Communications Commission over the iPhone location tracking issue that arose earlier this year. Reuters reports that Apple’s South Korean unit was fined 3 million won, or roughly $2,855, due to the fact that iPhones were, according to Apple, “maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around [the user’s] current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from [the user’s] iPhone, to help [the user’s] iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.” When the file containing the database was initially discovered, it set off a wave of speculation that Apple was secretly tracking the locations of its users, something the company expressly denied in its subsequent Q & A document.
Twitter has announced that it has launched a new HTML5-based web interface for the iPad, and will be rolling it out soon. “We’ve launched our HTML5 version of twitter.com for iPad,” reads an update on Twitter Mobile’s account. “It will be rolling out to device owners over the next week or so.” Citing Twitter mobile engineer Manuel Deschamps, TechCrunch reports that the new interface was based on Twitter’s HTML5 client for iPhone and Android. “The HTML5 app provides a great option for people who prefer to use the browser over native apps,” said Twitter representative Carolyn Penner. “Its two-column view is consistent with the Twitter experience you’re used to (on Twitter.com), and it takes advantage of touch gestures and other device capabilities.” The new interface will be accessible by loading twitter.com from the Safari browser on the iPad.
This week’s featured photo is from our iPads Around the World gallery, and shows a black iPad 2 sitting next an iPhone 4 on a railing overlooking the “Chocolate Hills” of Carmen, Bohol, Philippines. 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!
iHome has debuted its new SD63 Retro-Style Hi-Fi Stereo Headphones. Sporting an on-ear design, the SD63 features a padded, adjustable headband, a rotary volume control on one of the two swiveling ear cups, air-cushioned ear pads for added comfort, 40mm neodymium drivers, a six-foot coiled cord, chrome accents, and Soundesign branding. iHome’s SD63 Retro-Style Hi-Fi Stereo Headphones are available now and sell for $50.
Spielhaus has released Pixel Dude, a new app for creating and editing pixel art on the iPad. Designed with usability in mind, the app provides useful shortcuts and drawing tools to allow users to put together creative pixel art directly on their iPad. Tools include a colour gradient like selection tool, selected colour history, symmetric drawing tools and layer support along with selective layer movement and unlimited undo and redo support. Multitouch gestures provide shortcuts such as a three-finger swipe for undo/redo and double-tapping to switch between eraser and pen modes. In true retro pixel art fashion, users are limited to a 32x32 canvas which is automatically scaled up to 64x64 and 128x128 when saving. Dropbox support allows work to be saved and seamlessly synchronized across multiple devices. Notably, almost all interface graphics in the application were created with an early prototype of the app itself. Pixel Dude requires iOS 4.0 is later and is available from the App Store for $4.
Nordisk Film Games has released The Marbians, a retro marble-themed puzzle game for iOS devices. The Marbians are a group of aliens who have crashed in Roswell, New Mexico and donned marble-shaped spacesuits for safety. Players must help get The Marbians back home by flinging and flicking them across increasingly challenging courses, avoiding obstacles, collecting moon rocks and trying to find a way back to their UFO. Players can also score additional points by bouncing Marbians off walls at higher speeds and collecting all of the moon rocks on each level. Facebook and Game Center integration allows users to share their high scores and achievements and view global rankings from other players. The Marbians is available from the App Store in two versions: The Marbians for the iPhone and iPod touch and The Marbians HD for the iPad. Both versions are a free download and include the first eight levels of the game; the full game can be unlocked via an in-app purchase of $1 for the iPhone/iPod touch version or $2 for the iPad version.
MGS Development has released a major new update to forScore, its sheet music management app for the iPad. forScore is designed to allow musicians to take thousands of pages of music scores with them in electronic form and use the iPad as a sheet music reader while practicing or performing. forScore 3.0 adds Dropbox integration, the ability to rearrange pages in a score and save and restore multiple versions. The update also adds a new Darkroom feature that allows users to create PDF files from images in the iOS photo library or taken with the camera on the iPad 2.
The new version also includes a download manager that allow users to queue up multiple files and continue browsing and download files directly without needing to preview them first. Several updates have also been made to the application’s user interface, including a redesign of various UI elements and menus and navigable thumbnail previews of bookmarked files. Users can also now search set lists for specific titles or view and navigate their set lists alphabetically, by least-often played, or in shuffle mode. Additional new features in version 3.0 include automated backups, expanded multitouch gesture support, improved PDF import and parsing and more. forScore 3.0 requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.