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Happy New Year From iLounge!

From all of us here at iLounge, Happy New Year! We’ll be on a limited publication schedule through the second as we celebrate with our families and friends.

Our editors are anxious to bid farewell to 2011, which was a very mixed year with equal portions of major highs and lows. This year saw the launch of iterative but certainly improved new iPad and iPhone models, plus some huge, iCloud-heavy updates to both iOS and iTunes. On more personal notes, an iLounge editor celebrated the birth of a new child, and our site added the major new iLounge + Mac section to spotlight great Mac hardware, accessories, and software. But the year also included the untimely passing of Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, whose loss still weighs heavily on all of our minds, as well as further declines in the company’s iPod lineup. Thankfully, there are many silver linings to point to, such as continued strong iPhone, iPad, and Mac sales, and today’s unexpected announcement of Apple Senior Vice-President Jonathan Ive’s knighthood in recognition of his contributions to design.

We are excited for 2012, which will soon bring the largest iLounge Pavilion in the history of the International Consumer Electronics Show—now roughly half of an entire convention center hall in total space, devoted to iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Mac products—and of course many new product releases from Apple and its third-party developers. This should be a great year, and we can’t wait to share it with all of you!

Feel free to browse through our archives throughout the weekend, and be sure to join us for our upcoming live coverage of the 2012 International CES. Have a great New Year!

Audio-Technica at 2012 CES: In-Ear Headphones

Intended for a March 2012 release, Audio-Technica has introduced its new ATH-CKS55i In-Ear Headphones at its booth in the iLounge Pavilion at the 2012 International CES. This addition to the Solid Bass lineup is made specifically to pump up the bass with its Double Air Chamber System, but the company claims to also provide solid midrange and highs. The “i” in the title is to indicate compatibility with Apple’s devices via an in-line three-button remote and mic. ATH-CKS55i will retail for $80.

French retailer sues Apple citing unfair competition

French retailer eBizcuss has filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming unfair competition. Citing French-language Le Figaro, ifoAppleStore reports that the complaint alleges that Apple favors its own retail stores when shipping new products. eBizcuss CEO François Prudent says that his 16 locations in France suffered a 30 percent decline in business during Q3 2011 after supply of iPad 2 and MacBook Air units dried up, and in Q4, his business was unable to obtain any iPhone 4S units. Prudent goes on to claim that he can trace the product shortages to the opening of Apple’s Carousel del Louvre store in late 2009, and that Apple is soliciting his business customers directly. “The proposals submitted to Apple commercial enterprises are lower than prices at which we buy the equipment,” Prudent claims. Apple has yet to comment on the suit.

GameStop sees ‘strong’ interest in iOS trade program

GameStop has announced that the company’s trade-in program for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad has seen “strong consumer enthusiasm” in the months it has been available. “The velocity of this trade program has exceeded our expectations,” stated GameStop president Tony Bartel. “We expect to see strong post-holiday traffic as customers trade in older models that were replaced by gifts.” Through the program, customers receive up to $180 in store credit for an iPod touch, up to $300 for an iPhone, and up to $400 for an iPad. Thanks to the success of the program, the company expects to continue to expand the availability of GameStop refurbished devices. [via Joystiq]

60Beat debuts GamePad for iOS devices

60Beat has debuted its new GamePad for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The GamePad is a hand-held game controller that connects to Apple’s portable devices via the headphone port, and offers dual analog joysticks, a d-pad, 10 action buttons, and three menu buttons. The device draws its power from the headphone port, and includes an audio splitter so users can continue to listen to audio via a set of headphones or external speakers with the controller attached. 60Beat’s GamePad for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is available now and sells for $50.

Wicked Audio previews Solus headphones

Wicked Audio has announced that it will release its new Solus headphones at the 2012 International CES. According to the company, the headphones will arrive in a black/red design with a thick braided cord, a built-in volume control, and a “DJ” switch that limits the audio output to a single ear. Wicked Audio’s Solus headphones will be available next month and will sell for $100.

Photo of the Year: iPhone 4 in Hawaii

As we approach the end of 2011, we’ve decided to do a little something different with this week’s featured photo, and highlight our favorite reader-submitted image of the year. After a lively debate amongst our editors, our Photo of the Year title goes to the shot “iPhone 4 in Kauai”, which won out for its colors and composition, despite its lack of interesting imagery past what’s on the phone’s screen. Also considered for the title were “iPhone @ Todai-Ji” and “iPad with KLCC, Malaysia”, both of which included an iDevice and a compelling landmark in the background.

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 - or even Year!

Apple posts iTunes Match walkthrough video, FAQ


Apple has posted a new webpage dedicated to its iTunes Match service. Launched in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. The walkthrough video and page clearly explain how the service works and the steps needed to subscribe, while the FAQ addresses topics such as supported file types, number of devices supported—up to 10—and whether the service streams or downloads songs. For more information on iTunes Match, see our Instant Expert article.

iLounge’s Starrett releases Scribe app for iOS

iLounge Senior Editor Charles Starrett has released his first iOS application, Scribe. An advanced text editor for the iPhone and iPad, Scribe is designed for users who write content for the web, with easy HTML markup features accessible directly from the iOS context menus. The application provides a clutter-free user interface with an iPhone/iPad-optimized version of the font Anonymous Pro; users can save files locally, or take advantage of iCloud and Dropbox support for syncing files between multiple iOS devices. Scribe also offers full Markdown support for users who prefer that syntax to HTML, while providing the same menu options as HTML markup. Additional features include integrated support for TextExpander, AirPrint, sending of documents via e-mail, and word/character/line counts. Scribe is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $3.

Apple to launch all-new iPhone in fall 2012

Apple is set to launch a completely redesigned iPhone model in the fall of next year, according to a new report. Citing a “close source”, BGR reports that the new phone will feature a rubber or plastic material—similar to the company’s Bumper cases—built into the handset itself, most likely as a bezel. The piece will join the phone’s glass face to its rear aluminum plate, and will also cover a redesigned antenna system, according to the report.

Apple fined $1.2 million over warranty practices in Italy

Apple has been hit with a substantial fine over its warranty practices in Italy. BBC News reports that Italy’s antitrust authority handed Apple a €900,000—roughly $1.2 million—fine for the company’s failure to inform customers of their legal right to two years of technical support, instead recognizing only the one-year warranty, such as standard in the U.S. The penalties will be applied to Apple’s three local divisions—Apple Italia, Apple Sales International, and Apple Retail Italia.

Apple to build 32-, 37-inch TV sets?

Apple is planning to launch its rumored TV set in 32- and 37-inch sizes, according to a new report. Citing industry sources, DigiTimes reports that Apple’s upcoming sets will be full televisions, unlike the company’s current Apple TV set-top box, and will be focused on 32- and 37-inch models. In addition, the report, citing “media reports” in Korea, also claims that Samsung started producing chips for the device last month. The report goes on to speculate that the sets will launch in the second or third quarter of 2012 and may be accompanied by a next-generation update to the current Apple TV set-top box. An Apple-branded TV set has been rumored for some time; however, reports of the company’s plans in the place have increased substantially since the debut of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, in which Apple’s late co-founder and former CEO states that the company had finally “cracked” the TV.

Happy Holidays from iLounge!

On behalf of all of iLounge’s Editors, forum administrators, moderators and helpers, happy holidays to you and yours. We will be on a limited publication schedule for the next few days as we celebrate with our families and friends, and will return to our normal posting schedule on December 27.

Hopefully, you’ll find a new iPod, iPhone, iPad, accessory, or gift card wrapped in a shiny box over the next few days! Tell us below what sort of Apple goodies you received or gave as gifts for the holidays, and in our poll, which you can find in the left-hand column of our homepage.

If you’re looking for a way to spend either a gift card or last-minute shopping dollars, here are a few useful parts of the site to check out.

Our iPhone + iPod and iPad 2 Buyers’ Guides with shopping, Apple hardware, accessory, and app picks.
iLounge’s collection of thousands of reviews covering all iPod, iPhone, and iPad models.
iPod, iPhone, and iPad Gems/Tutorials, for the latest in App Store purchasing recommendations, and helpful guides to all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and iTunes.
Our Discussion Forums, with over 200,000 members sharing tips and thoughts on different Apple products.

Have a great and relaxing holiday!

iOS 5.0.1 update poll ends, holiday poll begins

With over 2,100 votes from iLounge readers, our most recent poll—“Did the iOS 5.0.1 update fix anything for you?”—has ended. Readers were given various options to indicate that the update helped with battery life and/or AirPlay issues, didn’t fix their issues, made things worse, or to say that they either didn’t have any issues to begin with or didn’t have an iOS 5-capable device.

A large number of readers—42 percent—said they didn’t have any issues to fix, followed by 22 percent who said the update didn’t fix their issues. While 10 percent of readers said the update fixed their battery life issues, another 10 percent said it made their issues worse, and yet another 10 percent said they don’t own a device capable of running iOS 5.0.1. Finally, four percent said the update fixed both battery and AirPlay issues, while only one percent said the update fixed their AirPlay streaming issues only. Thanks for all your votes!

Our new poll focuses on this season’s holiday gifts. We’d like to know: what was your favorite Apple product you received as a gift this season? Was it an iPad, or maybe an iPhone or iPod? Or was it an Apple TV, or perhaps even a Mac? Our new poll, “What was your favorite holiday Apple gift?” lets you answer that question. As always, you can find the iLounge Poll on the left-hand column of the main home page.

Gameloft releases Dungeon Hunter 3

Gameloft has released Dungeon Hunter 3, the third instalment in its Dungeon Hunter series of action RPG games for iOS. A sequel to last year’s Dungeon Hunter 2 (iLounge Rating: B+), the new game takes players back into the dark fantasy world of Gothicus where they must again fight the forces of evil across 16 massive arenas. Dungeon Hunter 3 provides the same style of hack and slash game play from the previous titles with epic real-time fights and four different levels of difficult to challenge players. Users can choose from four unique new character classes: Warlod, Astromancer, Trickster or Shaman and can also now choose the gender of their hero; each character class provides different skills paths and abilities and players unlock additional skills as they gain experience points and level up. Dungeon Hunter 3 expands on previous titles with a larger in-game world and higher quality graphics that take full advantage of modern iOS devices including refined textures, advanced shaders, lighting effects and more. Dungeon Hunter 3 is available from the App Store as a free download.

Ego & Company debut USB Case for iPhone 4/4S

Ego & Company has debuted its new USB Case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The second model in the company’s Ego Hybrid series, the USB Case is a snap-style hard case offering a removable USB stick in 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32GB capacities that’s integrated into the back of the case when not in use. Ego & Company’s USB Case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S will come in five colors; pricing and availability information has yet to be released.

LogMeIn releases free basic version, updates Ignition

Popular remote desktop service LogMeIn has released a new free version of its remote control app for iOS devices. LogMeIn is a free service that allows users to easily access their PC or Mac remotely from another computer via a web browser without requiring advanced configuration of proxies and firewalls. Although the basic computer-to-computer service has always been free, the company’s original iOS application, LogMeIn Ignition provided more advanced features from the iOS platform and sold on the App Store for $30

LogMeIn has now released a new, free version of the iOS app providing basic remote desktop access for any computer configured in the user’s LogMeIn account; a $40/year subscription to LogMeIn Pro can be purchased directly within the app which basically unlocks the features of the paid LogMeIn Ignition app. Pro features include the ability to transfer files between the remote computer and the iOS device and online storage services such as Dropbox as well as printing from the remote computer to any AirPrint compatible printer and streaming HD video and sound from the remote computer. These features are also available at no additional charge from the free app when connecting to a remote computer for which the user has already purchased a LogMeIn Pro subscription. LogMeIn is available from the App Store as a free download.

The original LogMeIn Ignition app has now been renamed to “Ignition” and has been updated with HD video and sound streaming and My Cloud Bank. The App Store price of Ignition has also been increased to $100, however Ignition provides access to Pro features from the iOS device for remote computers on LogMeIn Free plans and does not require an annual subscription fee.

Apple starts shipping iPod nano 6G units as 1G replacements

Apple has started to send out sixth-generation iPod nano units to customers participating in the Replacement Program for the first-generation iPod nano. One iLounge editor yesterday received a silver sixth-generation unit as a replacement for a first-generation unit via the Replacement Program, a change from earlier replacement units, which appeared to be refurbished first-generation models. The shift to newer replacements will likely thrill many customers, but for collectors, it may be cause for hesitation, as it has yet to be seen whether Apple will once again start to send out first-generation replacements as they receive the faulty units. Apple launched the replacement program last month as a way to deal with potential safety risks caused by faulty batteries.

Wahoo Fitness intros Blue HR heart rate monitor

Wahoo Fitness has introduced its new Blue HR heart rate monitor for the iPhone 4S and other devices. Using Bluetooth 4.0 Smart technology, the Blue HR wirelessly provides real-time heart rate readings on the iPhone 4S via compatible apps, including MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, and Motion X. Wahoo Fitness’ Blue HR heart rate monitor for the iPhone 4S and other Bluetooth 4.0 devices will be available in January 2012 and will sell for $80.

Evernote releases Skitch for iPad

Evernote has released Skitch for iPad, an iOS adaptation of the popular annotation and drawing app, Evernote Skitch for Mac. Skitch for iPad allows users to import photos from the iOS photo library or capture them with the iPad 2 camera and then annotate and markup the photos with integrated drawing tools. Skitch also recognizes recently-captured screenshots from the photo library and places them in a separate category for quick access and provides an integrated web browser and map view to allow users to easily take snapshots of web pages and maps that can then be marked up and saved in the same manner as any other stored image. Skitch includes a variety of touchscreen-optimized drawing tools including a finger tool for manipulating drawn objects, a freehand pencil tool, arrow and shape tools as well as text annotation and cropping options. Drawings and annotations are automatically saved within the Skitch for iPad app but can also be saved directly into Evernote or shared via Twitter or e-mail; AirPlay mirroring is also fully supported on the iPad 2 allowing drawings to be displayed on a larger screen via an Apple TV. Skitch for iPad requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. AirPlay and camera features require an iPad 2. An iPhone version is currently under development.

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