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Galaxy on Fire 2 HD adds Valkyrie HD Expansion

Fishlabs has released the much-anticipated update to Galaxy on Fire 2 HD adding support for the Valkyrie HD expansion pack. Released last fall, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is an enhanced version of the popular original Galaxy on Fire 2 that has been optimized to take full advantage of the improved graphic capabilities of the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 along with support for synchronizing saved games via iCloud. The latest update brings the Valkyrie expansion pack to Galaxy on Fire 2 HD adding enhanced 3D models, console-quality visuals and increased textures, resolutions and effects to the original expansion.

The expansion continues the storyline of Keith T. Maxwell’s galactic adventures as he now attempts to unravel a conspiracy orchestrated by a mysterious and cunning new enemy. The new add-on provides new spaceships, weapons and equipment along with nine new planets across four solar systems and a new black market trading system. Users can also now purchase their own space station, the Kaamo Club, in order to store additional spaceships and valuable goods. Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is available from the App Store for $10 and is compatible with the iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad, although the enhanced graphics are only available on the iPhone 4S and iPad 2. The Valkyrie HD expansion is available as an in-app purchase for $5; users with the original Galaxy on Fire 2 standard edition installed on their device will receive the Valkyrie HD expansion for free when first opening the new version.

Apple offering settlements to Motorola, Samsung

Apple has proposed settlements to both Motorola Mobility and Samsung in an effort to end some pending litigation, Dow Jones Newswires reports. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report claims that Apple has asked for roughly 1 percent to 2.5 percent of net sales per device, or between $5 and $15 per handset. One person said that Apple isn’t looking to offer patent licenses to all competitors, nor is it seeking to create a royalty business. The report also suggests that Apple may be using its own patents as bargaining chips to reduce any penalties it might face as a result of negative court rulings related to standards-essential patents held by the two companies.

Russia reclassifies iPad as PC, drops 5% import tax

Russia’s Federal Customs Service has dropped the 5 percent import tax previously levied upon the iPad by changing the device’s classification from a “navigator” to a personal computer, according to a new report. Citing Russian language Vedomosti (Translated Link), AppleInsider reports the change was made due to the fact that 3G-equipped iPads include GPS hardware, while Wi-Fi-only models do not. The original article did not state whether the new policy draws a distinction between iPad models with GPS and those without, although the Customs Service did say that “other” tablets with GPS would still be classified as navigation devices and will thus be subject to the tax. The iPad 2 launched in Russia in May 2011.

ABC Family launches universal iOS app

ABC Family has launched a universal iOS app providing full, on-demand access to ABC Family television content on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Developed by the same team responsible for the ABC Player app, the new ABC Family app is designed to provide viewers with convenient and timely on-the-go access to the network’s popular content with free, ad-supported episodes form a variety of original series including Jane By Design, Make It or Break It, Switched at Birth, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

New episodes will typically be available via the app the day after airing on the television network—at the same time as they are posted online at Links are also provided within the app to allow users to purchase and download their favourite episodes directly from the iTunes Store. The universal ABC Family app also provides some additional unique features such as the ability save playback positions within an episode across multiple iOS devices; the app is also the first from the Disney/ABC Television Group to support closed captioning. ABC Family requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download. Video streaming is available only to users physically located in the United States and its territories.

Next iPad available March 16, second event planned?

Apple will launch its next-generation iPad on March 16, according to a new report. Citing a reliable Apple Store source, 9to5Mac reports that preparations are being made for a large Apple Store event culminating on Friday, March 16, which suggests that Apple plans to make the third-generation tablet available on that date. Apple is said to be planning two notable Apple Store openings for that day, and Verizon Wireless has also started teasing an upcoming product or announcement with a “Something is Coming” message on its website. In addition, the report states that there is expected to be a “subsequent event” a week later, which could represent the launch of a revamped Apple TV, or additional international launches of the iPad.

Melcher Media releases Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days

Melcher Media, creators of the bestselling interactive book app Al Gore: Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, have released a new iPad app for Monty Python fans, Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days. Released in conjunction with the Blu-ray debut of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the interactive app provides a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the troupe’s second feature film. Melcher Media worked with John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin to provide an immersive experience for Python enthusiasts as the group takes fans along on their foolhardy quest to make an epic film in just 28 days.

Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days includes an exclusive collection of previously unreleased outtakes, rehearsals, raw audio recordings, songs, sound effects, scripts, dozens of stills and more, while also adding new illustrations, animations and the story of the filming told in the Pythons’ own words. Packed with Python history, the app includes content such as Michael Palin’s day-by-day diary of the filming, Terry Gilliam’s storyboards, the original continuity sheets covering every shot and 360-degree views of actual props and costumes from the movie.

In addition the app can also function as a rich second screen companion when used in conjunction with the new Blu-ray version of the film. Using a supported Blu-ray player synced via Wi-Fi the iPad can be used as a remote control to jump to the specific scenes in the movie that users are browsing through and reading about in the app. For a limited time, Sony is also offering a $5 mail-in rebate when consumers purchase both the Blu-ray and iPad app. Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.

Next-gen iPad to be named ‘iPad HD’?

Apple will not call the next-generation iPad the iPad 3 as many had expected, according to a new report. Citing a developer who’s previously provided reliable information, Cnet reports that Apple will instead use the moniker iPad HD, calling deliberate attention to the device’s high-resolution screen. A separate report from Gizmodo, posted last week, included an alleged list of upcoming cases from Griffin Technology listed as being for the iPad HD, and the name has been seen in application usage reports, as well. The report goes on to note that both the and domains appear to be registered by companies other than Apple; Apple is expected to unveil its next-generation iPad at a special media event being held tomorrow in San Francisco.

Ten One unveils Blue Tiger pressure-sensitive stylus

Ten One Design has unveiled its new Blue Tiger Stylus. Touted as “the world’s first pressure-sensitive Bluetooth 4.0 stylus for iPad”, the Blue Tiger is supported by the CoreBluetooth framework in iOS 5, and features a color LED button that can display the current paint color; the company is also offering sample hardware and a beta SDK to developers. Notably, current iPad and iPad 2 models do not offer Bluetooth 4.0, so it is likely that sample units will include a dongle, however, the technology was included in the iPhone 4S and is therefore reasonably likely to appear in the next-generation iPad.

Distant Suns 3 adds NASA Night Sky Network listings

First Light has updated Distant Suns 3 adding listings of astronomical events and activities for users in the United States through a new partnership with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and NASA Night Sky Network. Designed with both casual users and professionals in mind, Distant Suns 3 is a feature-rich astronomy app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad that provides augmented reality viewing of the sky with a database of over 300,000 celestial objects. The new partnership will allow astronomy enthusiasts in the U.S. to more easily find local events and take advantage of a variety of astronomy programs. The new version also provides significant performance improvements, lens flares to add more photographic quality to imagery and numerous UI enhancements and performance tweaks. Distant Suns 3 is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $10.

Roamz 2.0 introduces new UI, more social features

Roamz has released a major update to its location-based social app debuting a completely redesigned user interface, new social features and push notification support. Released last fall, Roamz allows users to display an aggregated view of location-based results from several different social networks, including Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, and Twitter, providing users with relevant information on what is happening around their current location. Users can also capture and share Roamz moments by connecting via their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare accounts.

The latest version provides a new interface designed to help users better discover new and interesting activity around their location more effectively. A new commenting feature allows users to comment on other users’ posts with optional push notification support to let users know when new comments or likes are received. Roamz 2.0 also includes an improved recommendation system to provide content more relevant to each user’s interests as well as the ability to dynamically improve recommendations based on user activity. The update also now provides Google Maps integration on every venue page, allowing users to quickly open the Maps app to get directions to the location. Roamz 2.0 requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

iPad 3 shipments affecting China to US air freight rates

Two separate reports have indicated that massive shipments of next-generation iPad units from China to the United States have resulted in price hikes and reduced capacity for air freight carriers. Citing an anonymous source, AppleInsider reports that the price of shipping air cargo from China to the U.S. via DHL have seen a “big change” as Apple has taken up capacity on such flights for iPad units. In a separate report, MacRumors cites a shipping representative as saying that shipping rates have risen as much as 20 percent in a single week; the representative added that his freight broker in China has had trouble finding space for his company’s shipments, as Apple has taken up available capacity, and done so at “premium rates”. Both reports note that the timing and quantity of the shipments suggests that Apple plans to launch the next-generation iPad soon after its expected introduction on Wednesday.

Monolith offers wooden backs for iPhone 4/4S

Monolith is now offering its wooden replacement back plates for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Available in oak, teak, and walnut versions, each back is made from real wood finished with an oil and wax finish, and features new plastic bezel frame and an OEM lens cover and clear flash cover to maintain the photographic quality of the iPhone. In addition, each back comes complete with both Phillips and Pentalobe screwdrivers, and the packaging can be used to store the existing glass back for future installation. Monolith’s wooden replacement back plates for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are available now and sell for $55.

C Spire now selling iPhone 4S for $150-$350

C Spire Wireless is now selling the iPhone 4S for $50 offer standard retail. The discount, which is only available when signing up for a new two-year agreement, brings the price for the 16GB iPhone 4S to just $150; 32GB and 64GB models are selling for $250 and $350, respectively. In addition, the carrier is offering $25 off the 8GB iPhone 4, bringing the price for that model to $75. C Spire launched the iPhone 4S on its network last November. [via 9to5Mac]

App Store reaches 25 billion downloads

Apple has announced that over 25 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store. According to the release, the downloads account for the usage of over 315 million iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners worldwide. The 25 billionth app downloaded Where’s My Water? Free, was downloaded by Chunli Fu of Qingdao, China. As the winner of the App Store Countdown to 25 Billion Apps, Chunli Fu will receive a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card. The release also states that the App Store now offers over 550,000 apps, with 170,000 of those being native to the iPad.

“We’d like to thank our customers and developers for helping us achieve this historic milestone of 25 billion apps downloaded,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “When we launched the App Store less than four years ago, we never imagined that mobile apps would become the phenomenon they have, or that developers would create such an incredible selection of apps for iOS users.”

TurboTax SnapTax prepares simple tax returns from a photo

Intuit has released TurboTax SnapTax, a new tax preparation app for the iPhone that allows U.S. and Canadian users to prepare simple tax returns by snapping a picture of their W-2 or T4, answering some basic questions and then reviewing and securely filing their return electronically. Available in separate country-specific versions, users can download the free SnapTax app to prepare their returns and pay via in-app purchase when filing; U.S. federal and state tax returns are $20 each, Canadian tax returns are $10 each. TurboTax SnapTax (U.S.) is for U.S. taxpayers who do not have children or dependents, do not own a home or real estate and have income of less than $100,000 that comes from only a W-2, interest or unemployment. TurboTax SnapTax 2011 (CDN) is for Canadians under the age of 65 who have no children or dependents, only a T4 slip, no RRSP contributions or charitable donations and reside in Alberta, BC, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, P.E.I. or Saskatchewan. Both apps require a camera-equipped device with iOS 4.1 or later.

RadiumOne launches Via.Me social app

RadiumOne Labs has launched Via.Me, a new social sharing network and companion iPhone application designed to simplify creating, filtering and sharing content across multiple social networks. The Via.Me app allows users to quickly capture and share pictures, videos, audio notes and text updates via Facebook and Twitter at the touch of a button as well as uploading and sharing on the Via.Me social network. The app also includes 18 unique photo filters themed after world-class cities to allow users to stylize their photos. Users can follow friends’ Via.Me streams with photo comments and likes a single feed and like and comment on each other’s photos, videos, audio notes and status updates along with Push Notification support for new comments. Via.Me requires iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

US Air Force to buy as many as 18,000 iPads

The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $9.36 million contract to a Phoenix-based computer services company which will use the money to purchase as many as 18,000 iPad 2 units. Bloomberg reports that the Air Force is purchasing 32GB Wi-Fi models, which will be used as replacements for paper manuals and navigation charts used by pilots and navigators. “Aircrews fly nonstop worldwide missions and require access to flight publications both on and off the aircraft, throughout all phases of flight,” said military spokeswoman Captain Kathleen Ferrero. The contract allows for the purchase of as many as 18,000 units within the next year, although the final total will be “contingent upon funding requests and approval”.

Hi-res iPads running iOS 6 appear in server logs

iPad models sporting a resolution of 2048 x 1536 have been spotted in the server logs of a notable website. Ars Technica reports that while doing research for its monthly browser that report, it found multiple hits from devices reported to be running iOS 6, with a newer build of WebKit—535.8—than the current version, which is listed as 534.46. In addition, it found 346 visits from a device with a screen resolution of 2048 x 1536, widely believed to be the resolution of the next-generation iPad’s Retina display. As noted in the report, very few devices in current use have the same resolution. Apple is expected to unveil the next-generation iPad on March 7; iOS 6 is unlikely for a release on that date, and while a brief preview is possible, Apple last year waited until its WWDC conference to unveil iOS 5.

HireVue app enables mobile job interviews

HireVue has released an official iOS app for its online interviewing service allowing employers and applicants to conduct on-demand job interviews from anywhere using their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. HireVue’s online service provides video-based On Demand Interviews to candidates and employers with more flexibility and convenience by time-shifting the interview experience, allowing users to complete and review interviews at any time. The new HireVue iOS app extends this process further by place-shifting the experience, allowing users to complete their HireVue digital interviews from any convenient location.

Candidates selected for a digital interview can access the app directly from their interview invitation e-mail and complete the interview at their convenience. Interviews can consist of multiple-choice and essay that may require written or audio/video responses recorded using the built-in camera and microphone. Interviews can also provide additional information to potential candidates via the HireVue app such as employment branding videos and introductions and commentary from the hiring manager or recruiting teams. Responses are submitting to the recruiter or hiring manager via the HireVue service where they can be reviewed, rated and shared with colleagues. HireVue is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. An interview invitation and HireVue account is required to use the app.

Apple pushing for streaming TV service by year’s end?

Apple is in negotiations with content providers to launch a streaming TV service by Christmas, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, the New York Post reports that Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has been leading the negotiations, which have reportedly not been going well. “They want everything for nothing,” one media executive said, while another source said Apple’s stance can be summed up as “we decide the price, we decide what content”. Apple is said to be pitching the idea of offering channels as apps for its devices, including the Apple TV set-top box, although whether the company would be selling the service in a bundle or on an a la carte basis is unknown.

The company is also said to have made attempts to negotiate with cable operators to replace traditional set-top boxes with Apple units. “They want to create the interface, and they wanted to work with the cable guys to manage bandwidth across the TV and broadband pipeline,” said one Post source. Although Apple has had little success thus far in its negotiations, the company is said to have continued on, and is negotiations with Verizon and AT&T, seeking to gain traction.

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