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Apple releases minor Cards update

Apple has released a minor update to its Cards app for the iPhone and iPod touch providing improvements to postal address verification, text entry and the checkout process. Introduced at Apple’s iPhone event in October, Cards allows iPhone and iPod touch users to create professionally printed physical letterpress cards from their device with custom photos and text that can then be mailed out for delivery to the recipient via the U.S. Postal Service. The Cards app is available from the App Store as a free download with individual cards paid for via in-app purchase at $3 for mailing within the U.S. or $5 for international recipients.

iHome, Disney team on headphone, speaker lineup

iHome and Disney have teamed up to create a new line of speakers and headphones. The lineup includes the M15 Noise-Isolating Earphones with Pouch, the M9 Stereo Speaker, the M40 Over-the-Ear Headphones with Volume Control, the M13 Portable Water-resistant Stereo Speaker System, and the H22 Alarm Clock Speaker System for iPod and iPhone. In addition, each is available styled after one of four characters—Kermit the Frog, Minnie Mouse, Phineas and Ferb, or Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas—save for the H22, which is available with the likeness of the first three characters only. iHome and Disney’s new lineup of headphones and speakers is available now with prices ranging from $15 to $50; more products are expected to be announced next year.

Griffin intros GuitarConnect Pro for iOS devices

Griffin Technology has introduced its new GuitarConnect Pro accessory for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. GuitarConnect Pro connects to the device using the Dock Connector port, and adds a standard 1/4 inch instrument jack, with a built-in gain control, to the device. It is compatible with any instrument that has a 1/4 jack, and with most Core Audio apps, including Apple’s own GarageBand. Users can monitor the audio by connecting a pair of headphones or speakers to the device’s built-in headphone jack. Griffin’s GuitarConnect Pro accessory for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is available now and sells for $80.

EU launches antitrust probe of Apple, publishers

The European Commission—the executive body of the European Union—has launched a probe into whether Apple helped major publishing houses illegally raise prices for e-books when it launched the iBookstore. Apple was notably the first retailer of digital books to allow publishers to use the so-called agency model, under which publishers set the price at which books are sold to consumers. “The Commission has concerns that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,” the body said in a statement. Also included in the probe are Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Macmillan.

Google+ app adds search, new icon

Google has released an update to the iOS app for its Google+ social networking service adding integrated search and full-resolution photo support. A search bar now appears at the top of the main menu allowing users to search for posts on Google+ directly from within the app, and photos posted from within the app are now uploaded in their original resolution. The latest update to Google+ also updates the app icon to match Google’s new branding for the service that was quietly rolled out early last month. The release notes also indicate that addition of the ability to “+1” photos however this feature was actually introduced in the prior update in early November. Google+ is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple, Samsung ruling exposes new details

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s ruling denying Apple’s request for a ban on sales of select Samsung products in the U.S. has unintentionally provided additional details of the ongoing dispute between the two companies. According to Reuters, a version of the ruling was originally released that allowed anyone to copy & paste redacted text out of the document for reading elsewhere; one of these passages revealed that Apple’s own studies show that existing iPhone customers are unlikely to switch to Samsung devices, with any increase in Samsung smartphone sales likely to come at the expense of other Android handsets. Koh alluded to this in the openly released portion of the ruling, saying that “It is not clear that an injunction on Samsung’s accused devices would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed”.

Another passage shows that Samsung argued that Apple’s supply cannot keep up with market demand for its products, a claim which Koh called “dubious”, as Apple had presented convincing rebuttal evidence to the contrary showing its ability to keep up with demand in the long term. In addition, the redacted portion of the ruling also referred to licensing deals that Apple had struck with other tech companies involving one of the patents referenced in Apple’s suit. As first reported by The Verge, Apple licensed a key patent dealing with a method of scrolling documents and images on a touchscreen device to both IBM and Nokia before offering a similar licensing agreement to Samsung, which the latter company rejected.

XHiBT offers handmade cases for iPhone, iPad

XHiBT is now offering a range of cases for the iPhone and iPad. The company’s cases feature solid bamboo frames to securely hold the device, vintage binding, and premium construction materials, and each is made by hand. Options include the folio-style iPhone 4/4S case, which offers open access to all ports and controls and sells for $40, the folio-style iPad 2 classic case, which sells for $60 and offers compatibility with the device’s automatic sleep/wake feature, and the iPad 2 flip case, which also features a folio-like design and magnetic sleep/wake functionality, but also functions as a viewing stand. XHiBT’s cases for the iPhone and iPad are available now in a variety of interior color options.

Apple eyeing Oregon for new data center?

Apple is considering building a large data center in Prineville, Oregon, according to a new report. Citing two people with direct knowledge of Apple’s plans, The Oregonian reports that Apple’s option to purchase 160 acres of land—currently owned by Crook County—expires at the end of the month, with climate, power costs, and tax breaks all playing roles in the decision. Notably, the location would place Apple’s data center less than a mile away from a large data center run by Facebook, and close to another sizable data center run by Google. Apple brought online a new $1 billion data facility in North Carolina earlier this year, which is used for both the iTunes Store and iCloud.

U.S. court denies Apple request for Samsung sales ban

A U.S. District Court in San Jose has rejected an Apple request for a preliminary injunction barring the sale of several Samsung Galaxy tablets and smartphones. The San Jose Business Journal reports that Judge Lucy Koh denied the request, saying that “It is not clear that an injunction on Samsung’s accused devices would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed.” Samsung issued a statement on the ruling, saying, “We are confident that we can demonstrate the distinctiveness of Samsung’s mobile devices when the case goes to trial next year.” Despite the ruling against Apple, Koh also said that Apple has proven that it’s likely to succeed in proving that Samsung’s products infringe its patents.

Zen Studios releases Zen Pinball for iOS

Zen Studios has released Zen Pinball, an iOS adaptation of its popular console pinball games. Featuring interactive 3D models and advanced ball physics, Zen Pinball features a mix of both Zen’s original pinball designs along with the popular Marvel Pinball series tables including Wolverine and Captain America tables available via in-app purchase. Zen Pinball also includes a social gaming system including Pro Score and Team Score leaderboards and in-game friend challenges along with Apple Game Center integration for tracking scores and achievements along with a hot seat multiplayer mode for challenging friends with a single iOS device. The free Zen Pinball app comes with the Sorcerer’s Lair table free with additional tables available via in-app purchase; each table also comes with its own tips and tricks guide to help players discover inside techniques and boost their scores. Zen Pinball is available from the App Store as a free download. Additional tables sell for $2 each.

Crazy Monkey Studios releases Siegebreaker

Crazy Monkey Studios has released Siegebreaker, a new RTS/RPG game for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Siegebreaker puts players in the role of a rock star, Keith Rock who must free the Brookelands from a mysterious evil which has befallen the land. As Keith Rock, the player attacks enemy forces with deadly guitar riffs and a special Rolling Stone attack to defend the kingdom against invading hordes. As the game progresses in Campaign mode, the background story unfolds in a comic book style presentation and the player can also unlock up to five additional characters with unique abilities to expand their Siegebreaker team, tactically coordinating their actions for the best results. A Siege game mode is also available in which the player can simply try for the highest score using the characters unlocked from the Campaign mode, with Game Center integration for tracking and sharing high scores. The player can also earn Power Orbs in siege mode which can be used to upgrade skills and purchase new abilities for the team, or simply choose to purchase Power Orbs via in-app purchases. Siegebreaker is available from the App Store as a free download.

SwitchEasy debuts Melt case for iPhone 4/4S

SwitchEasy has debuted its new Melt case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Made from polycarbonate, the Melt features a two-piece slider design with a gloss UV coating on the upper piece and a matte finish on the bottom, a “melting” texture on the back that serves to enhance grip, and a felt area on the interior to guard against scratches. Included with the case are two anti-static screen guards, a microfiber wipe, a squeegee applicator, two Universal Dock adapters — one black, one white — a video stand, two 30-pin port protectors, and two 3.5mm headphone jack protectors. SwitchEasy’s Melt case is available in in six color combinations—including a special limited holiday edition—and sells for $35.

Apple wins Australian Galaxy Tab sales ban extension

An Australian court earlier today extended a ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the country by at least a week, according to a Reuters report. Earlier this week, Samsung won an appeal in its case versus Apple, which would have seen the sales ban lifted today. Apple will now have a week to make its appeal to the High Court, which will decide whether Samsung will be allowed to resume sales ahead of a final hearing expected to take place next year, by which time the current Tab 10.1 model may be obsolete.

Mophie, Best Buy recall iPod, iPhone battery packs

Mophie and Best Buy’s Rocketfish label have announced recalls of certain battery packs for the iPod and iPhone. Mophie is recalling a limited number of Juice Pack Air units for the fourth-generation iPod touch—those starting with a serial number that falls between TR113 and TR120—due to potential overheating problems. The company has set up a web page dedicated to the issue, and recommends that owners of the affected units cease use immediately. Best Buy is recalling the Rocketfish Model RF-KL12 Mobile Battery Case for the iPhone 3G and 3GS due to similar overheating concerns. According to the company, roughly 31,000 affected units were sold in the U.S., with another 1,000 in Canada; again, customers are advised to stop using the product immediately and contact Best Buy toll-free at (800) 917-5737.

Infinity Blade II users reporting Saved Game problems

According to Epic Games’ forums as well as the experience of at least one of our editors, players are experiencing significant bugs when it comes to their saved games in Infinity Blade II; it’s an issues that only becomes apparent after further testing. The bug seems to be related to iCloud saving and syncing, as many people are losing saved games when they download the game to a second device. We highly recommend that players interested in Infinity Blade II wait until these issues are resolved, as they could potentially come at a the cost of a significant time investment as well as money in the form of lost In-App Purchases.

Scosche rolls out fitRail Exercise Mount for iPad

Scosche has rolled out its new fitRail Exercise Mount for the iPad and iPad 2. Constructed from aluminum, steel, and plastic, the fitRail is designed to attach to most types of workout equipment, holding the iPad in place with a mounting tray, stickGrip material, and a clip-on neoprene strap that attaches to the top of the iPad. In addition, the fitRail can be used away from the gym as a table to countertop stand. Scosche’s fitRail Exercise Mount for the iPad and iPad 2 is available now and sells for $50.

BBC iPlayer Global launches in Canada

BBC Worldwide has released its BBC iPlayer Global Edition for Canadian users, continuing the worldwide rollout of its video-on-demand service which began last summer with fourteen European countries and then to Australia in September. The free BBC iPlayer app provides an on-demand selection of classic and contemporary British television shows including such popular titles as Doctor Who, Top Gear and The Naked Chef. Users can enjoy selected clips and taster episodes for free or subscribe to a full unlimited package for $9/month or $85/year. In addition to providing streaming video-on-demand over Wi-Fi or 3G, the BBC iPlayer app also allows users to download shows for offline viewing within the application; downloads do not have a specific expiry—they are retained on the device for as long as the user’s subscription is valid and the episode is otherwise available online. The BBC iPlayer app also includes a parental controls feature to lock out content that may not be suitable for younger viewers in their household. BBC iPlayer Global is currently available from the App Store in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Canada. A U.S. release is said to be coming later this year. [via The Globe and Mail]

Squids goes universal, adds 3D anaglyph map

The Game Bakers has released an update to Squids, its hybrid puzzle-RPG game for iOS adding universal app support for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and several other enhancements. Squids provides a combination of traditional iOS gaming with classic RPG elements, putting players in control of a group of Squids who must save their underwater kingdom from an infection black ooze that is invading it. Players must recruit a unique team of Squids with different character classes and use strategy and skill to win at turn-based battles. Squids 1.3 also adds a new 3D anaglyph version of the Halloween map allowing users to use red/blue 3D glasses to play the game in 3D. Additional new features include the ability for users to listen to their own music, screen rotation and new localizations in Japanese, simplified Chinese and Russian. Squids is available from the App Store for $2.

Flight Control adds new maps, Rewind Feature

Firemint has released an update to its classic Flight Control and Flight Control HD games adding new maps and additional features. The latest version of Flight Control for the iPhone and iPod touch introduces a new “Storm Airfield” map where players must route and land aircraft in the middle of a thunderstorm, with the additional challenge of aircraft being struck by lightning, causing them to be out of communication and control for a short time. Flight Control HD for the iPad adds a new “Moon Base” map where players are required to land unique spacecraft such as shuttles, satellites and UFOs while avoiding small asteroids that knock craft off-course or larger ones that will end the game. The update to the iPad version also brings voice chat to the Game Center multiplayer feature. Both versions now gain a new “Rewind” feature whereby players can buy “rewinds” via in-app purchase to allow them to turn back time and replay the last few seconds of a game immediately prior to a collision to hopefully revert disaster and continue playing. Flight Control is available from the App Store in two separate versions: Flight Control ($1) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Flight Control HD for the iPad.

iPhone 4S receives higher satisfaction ratings than predecessor

According to the latest survey from ChangeWave, early customer satisfaction ratings for the iPhone 4S are even higher than those seen for its predecessor, the iPhone 4. 77 percent of iPhone 4S owners reported being “Very Satisfied” with the device, compared to 72 percent who said the same of the iPhone 4 in July 2010, while 19 percent of 4S owners say they are “Somewhat Satisfied”, compared to 21 percent of iPhone 4 owners. Overall, 96 percent of iPhone 4S owners reported being satisfied with the device, compared to 93 percent of iPhone 4 owners; only 2 percent of iPhone 4S owners said they were “Unsatisfied” with the handset. Siri ranked as the most popular feature of the phone, followed by the generic “ease of use” and the eight megapixel camera, while short battery life and the lack of 4G connectivity topped the dislike list. In addition, the overall dropped call rate reported by iPhone 4S owners—2.5 percent—was less than half of the rate reported by iPhone 4 owners—5.2 percent—in July 2010. ChangeWave’s survey was conducted among 215 iPhone 4S owners on November 2-9.

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