Apple has posted a What’s New page (Translated Link) covering its latest enhancements to the iTunes Store in Japan. Among the enhancements listed online are the ability to download songs over 3G, iTunes Plus-quality downloads, iTunes in the Cloud, Ringtones, a listing of albums that have been Mastered for iTunes, and Complete My Album. All the new enhancements are live now on the Japanese iTunes Store. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has confirmed its purchase of land in Prineville, Oregon, on which it plans to build a new data center. Citing Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet, KTVZ.com reports that Apple will build the facility on a 160-acre parcel it purchased from Crook County for $5.6 million. Knowledge of Apple’s potential plans for the site dates back to last December, when The Oregonian reported that the company was considering purchasing the land, which is less than a mile away from a large data center run by Facebook and another sizable facility run by Google.
Australian designer Edwin Conan has created the iPocketWatch for the sixth-generation iPod nano. As the name suggests, the iPocketWatch aims to repurpose the nano as a pocket watch—as opposed to more common cases that serve as wrist watches. It is made from aircraft grade aluminum, and features either a square or round hole on the face, open access to all buttons, ports, and the rear clip, and a 30cm chain with a belt hook for securing the case to a belt. Those interested in ordering the iPocketWatch need to make a pledge of AU $39—roughly $41—or more, and will only receive the product should it reach its funding goal of AU $6,000.
Following up on the original Nike+ product line—notably including the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, sneakers, and compatible heart rate monitors—Nike today announced two new Nike+ products, which will leverage upgraded footwear and iOS applications to provide more sophisticated workout tracking experiences. Nike+ Basketball will deliver information and measurements on how high, how hard and how quickly players play each game, in turn providing additional motivation and feedback. Nike+ Training is focused on making users’ daily workout experiences more enjoyable by combining gaming and high-intensity fitness activities.
Unlike the original Nike+ Sensor, which could be slipped into any Nike+ sneaker—or attached in a pouch to non-Nike sneakers—these new Nike+ models require a new Nike+ Pressure Sensor technology found in upcoming Nike+ enabled shoes. The new shoes will collect information about users’ movements, send the information wirelessly to iOS devices, and allow apps to translate the data into information about the user’s workout or game. Nike plans to debut the first Nike+ Pressure Sensor shoes on June 29, 2012; details on the applications themselves are not yet available, and it is unclear whether Nike will be working with Apple to update the Nike+ app built into iOS, or will release one or more standalone Nike+ applications.
Twitter has released an update to its official iOS application adding some new features and UI improvements for the iPhone and iPod touch. Twitter 4.1 brings back several previously available features that were omitted from the major 4.0 redesign released in December including the ability to choose a custom font size, copy and paste the text of Tweets and user profiles, mark all Direct Messages as read and swipe on an individual Tweet to access a list of quick options. With the swipe gesture users can quickly reply to, retweet, favourite, share, or view the user’s profile without leaving the main timeline. The update also adds a notification to the “Find Friends” feature to advise users that the app will access and upload contact e-mail addresses and phone numbers from the iOS address book and quick options for sharing, copying or e-mailing individual links within Tweets. Additional changes include improved image quality in Tweet details, performance improvements, accessibility improvements, TUrkish language support and numerous bug fixes. Twitter 4.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
iFrogz has debuted its new Boost speaker for the iPhone, iPod, and other small portable devices. Employing NearFA technology, the Boost syncs the audio signal from the device’s built-in speakers before outputting it through two 2W speakers by simply setting the device on top of the speaker. Other features include up to 15 hours of play time from three AA batteries, the ability to run off auxiliary power, provided via Micro USB, and an optional auxiliary line-in. iFrogz’ Boost speaker for the iPhone and iPod is available now and sells for $40.
The Beatles have announced that the band’s first ringtones have been released worldwide on the iTunes Store. According to the announcement, the ringtones—being offered for the first time—are available exclusively from the iTunes Store, and include all 27 of the band’s UK and US #1 hits, which are also featured on the band’s 1 album. The 30-second ringtones are available for purchase directly from the iTunes Store on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for $1.29 each.
Nuance Communications has released an update to Dragon Go, its voice search app for iOS, adding support for searching Expedia and Hulu+. Dragon Go 1.2 now allows users to quickly find flights, hotels and travel deals supplied by Expedia using Nuance’s Dragon natural language voice recognition technology. Travel search results are presented in a device optimized format with links available to buy tickets directly from Expedia. Users can also quickly swipe to view results from other relevant services such as Yelp, OpenTable and Twitter. The update also adds integration with Hulu+ alongside current services such as Netflix, Spotify, Pandora and Last.fm, allowing users to use natural language voice commands to search for and play back movies, TV shows and music on their favourite online services. In addition to the new support for Expedia and Hulu+, Dragon Go also provides content from other services including AccuWeather, Ask.com, Bing, Dictionary.com, ESPN, Facebook, Fandango, Last.fm, LiveNation, Milo.com, OpenTable, Pandora, Rotten Tomatoes, Spotify, Twitter, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, Yelp, YouTube and Yahoo. Dragon Go is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
Apple will soon allow independent environmental reviews of at least two of its suppliers’ factories in China, according to a new report. Citing Ma Jun, founder of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, USA Today reports that Apple agreed to the reviews in late January, following the release of reports documenting hazardous-waste leaks and the use of toxic chemicals at suspected Apple suppliers. The reviews could begin as soon as March, and may expand to include more than just two factories.
New photos comparing a claimed next-generation iPad back panel to an iPad 2 offer further evidence that the device will be slightly thicker than its predecessor and sport an improved rear camera. In a wider-reaching roundup of iPad rumors, M.I.C. Gadget has posted a number of comparison photos, which claim to show an iPad 2 and a “confirmed rear shell for iPad 3 Wi-Fi + 3G model”. Notable in the photos is a more gradual taper to the edges on the iPad 3, a much larger rear camera lens, and the fact that the new model is roughly 1-1.5 mm thicker depending on the model, although it is said to still fit inside some iPad 2 cases despite the difference. Apple is expected to announce the next-generation iPad on March 7.
China Telecom has announced that it has reached a deal with Apple to offer the iPhone 4S and will begin to do so on March 9. Reuters reports that the move comes as Apple has lost smartphone market share in China the last two quarters, and most recently was overtaken in marketshare by ZTE. China Telecom plans to open pre-orders on March 2; rival carrier China Unicom was previously the only iPhone carrier in the country, as market leader China Mobile’s current-generation technology is incompatible with any existing iPhone model.
In observance of the Presidents’ Day holiday in the United States and Family Day in Canada, iLounge will be updated only modestly today. Our editors wish you a happy holiday, and look forward to resuming coverage of all things iPod, iPhone, and iPad tomorrow!
The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes Monday morning. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.
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Also, be sure to enter our iBattz Mojo Power Card Giveaway. In our Giveaway of the Month for February, iLounge and iBattz are giving away one of ten iBattz Mojo Removable Power Card battery packs. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on February 29, 2012 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Bump Technologies has released Bump 3.0, a major overhaul of its popular inter-device sharing app for the iOS and Android platforms. Designed to simplify sharing of common information between mobile users, Bump allows iOS and Android device users to share information such as contacts and photos with each other simply by bumping the two devices together. With Bump 3.0, the company has undertaken a major redesign of the application and platform with the goal of making in-person device-to-device interactions faster, simpler and more powerful. The new version is now tightly focused on sharing contact information in social settings and sharing of photos with close friends and family, with many of the less-used information types such as calendar appointments, music and apps having been removed from the app to make it simpler, faster and more intuitive.
Bump 3.0 introduces a completely redesigned navigation system, replacing the old iOS home screen styled layout with a simplified swipe-able layer that allows users to quickly switch between different functions while remaining ready to bump with no additional activation steps required. The new version also emphasizes the mutual friend discovery feature introduced in version 2.0 by automatically showing a list of all mutual friends in address books and on social networks each time a user bumps with someone new, helping to highlight previously unknown social connections. Bump 3.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Yahoo reports that Rovio is planning to release a new instalment in its popular Angry Birds franchise, launching the eponymous birds into the final frontier in Angry Birds Space. This fourth title in the series will change things up by providing not only a new graphical theme but also introducing appropriate new gameplay elements such as realistic zero-gravity physics, slow-motion puzzles and “light speed” destruction. Rovio has also confirmed that the game will feature some completely new, additional birds sporting new super powers, although many of the traditional game play elements such as the three-star level rating system are also expected to remain. Rovio will also be releasing Angry Birds Space simultaneously in mobile gaming, retail and animation channels and plans to announce more specific partnerships and other gameplay details via its official Angry Birds Space website over the next few weeks leading up to the scheduled launch date of March 22.
Apple has posted a new contest celebrating the download of the 25 billionth app. As the company has with past countdown contests, it has posted a counter roughly showing the number of apps downloaded to this point on the contest page; similar graphics have yet to appear on the main iTunes Store or App Store, but will likely appear later today. “As of today, nearly 25 billion apps have been downloaded worldwide”, reads the contest page. “Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 25 billionth app, and you could win a US$10,000 App Store Gift Card. Just visit the App Store and download your best app yet.” The contest will end once the 25 billionth app has been downloaded; no purchase or download is necessary to enter.
SpiderArm has announced its new SpiderArm mounting system for the iPad 2. Designed to support the device in a variety of positions and places, the SpiderArm system includes a two-way, padded mount for use on tables and desks and a three-way mount that can be secured on a wall, under a cabinet, or near a workstation. It also comes with three modular extension arms with 270-degree joints to adjust to any angle and height, and a detachable outer casing that attaches to the iPad at all four corners and to the shortest of the three extension arms using a ball joint connection for a variety of viewing angles. The SpiderArm mounting system for the iPad 2 is available now and sells for $80.
A claimed “pre-GM” seed of iOS 5.1 has been obtained by Brazilian enthusiast site Blog do iPhone, and reportedly offers a new form of lock screen camera access. According to the report (Translated Link), the new Camera access control sits on the lock screen permanently, and provides instant access to the camera by simply sliding the icon upward. Currently, users must double-tap the Home button, tap the camera button, and then wait for the Camera application to load. In addition, the report claims that Japanese is now listed in Siri’s Settings as an officially supported language; an expected addition, considering the virtual assistant has recently been listing Japanese when answering inquiries into her language support. [via Mac Rumors]
IIS has released an update to gMusic, its unofficial Google Music player for iOS adding support for offline listening, playlist editing and more. gMusic is a native iOS app for the Google Music service allowing users to listen to their cloud-based Google Music library streamed to their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Although Google Music can be accessed via an HTML 5 web app in the Safari browser on the iPhone and iPod touch, gMusic provides additional features that only a native app can provide such as “Now Playing” lock screen integration on iOS 5 and offline support. The latest update, gMusic 1.5 adds a new offline mode and the ability to edit playlists directly from within the app and also introduces support for the “Thumbs up” feature for rating tracks in a user’s Google Music library. Several UI enhancements have also been added including support for portrait view on the iPad, a new album view and more. gMusic 1.5 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.1 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
Live event discovery service Thrillcall has released a new app for the iPhone and iPod touch designed to help music fans quickly and easily search for, discover and purchase concert last-minute tickets on the go. The Thrillcall Live Music app provides access to accurate, up to the minute concert listings for San Francisco and Los Angeles, with listings coming soon for Austin, New York and Portland. Designed with a focus on spontaneity, Thrillcall allows users to quickly browse and buy exclusive last-minute “flash” tickets for concerts via a one-touch in-app purchase with minimal effort. Offers can also be shared with friends allowing groups to quickly make concert plans on the spur of the moment. Thrillcall Live Music requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.