SmugMug has released an update to Camera Awesome adding integration with Instagram and several other small enhancements. Released last month, Camera Awesome is an advanced camera app for the iPhone that emphasizes fast shooting, sharper and better-exposed pictures and quick and simple sharing of photos. Camera Awesome 1.0.3 now includes in-app tutorials, pinch-to-zoom and white balance lock along with improvements to the sharing interface and shot timer as well as a number of performance and stability improvements. The update also lowers the pricing for in-app purchases of effects packages. Camera Awesome requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Filter Squad has released Discovr People, a new app designed to help iOS users find new people to follow on Twitter. The app allows users to explore the world of Twitter users displaying an interactive, virtual map of connections between Twitter users based on their recent conversations. Users can enter a Twitter handle directly or tap on a person to see a map of similar people or double-tap on a person to view detailed information about them such as their profile, tweets, connections and mentions. Users can also browser through Top Twitter lists, Featured lists or their own lists; new Twitter profiles can be saved to a user’s own Twitter lists and shared with friends via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. Discovr People is a universal app requiring iOS 5 or later and is available from the App Store for $1.
Mobile payments company Square has quietly updated its small white credit card reader with a battery and encryption. VentureBeat reports that perhaps in response to increasing pressure from PayPal, which recently announced that it will accept mobile payments using a similar, encrypted device, Square has started shipping all new readers with encryption. According to the report, it is unclear how much the new internals might cost; Square plans to migrate existing users to the new encrypted reader dongle over time. For more information on Square and its credit card reader accessory, see our full review.
Angry Birds developer Rovio Entertainment has announced the acquisition of Futuremark Games Studio. The gaming arm of Futuremark, developer of benchmarking software such as 3DMark and PCMark, Futuremark Games Studio produces games for the iOS, Mac and PC platforms including such titles as Unstoppable Gorg and Hungribles for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Futuremark Games marks Rovio’s second acquisition over the past year, following the acquisition of Kombo Animation Studio last summer.
Apple, along with Sony, HTC, LG, and Samsung, has been sued by Graphics Properties, which claims the various companies’ products infringes on its patents. Reuters reports that company—formerly known as Silicon Graphics—alleges that Apple and the other companies named in the suit infringe upon a patent related to a computer graphics process that turns text and images into pixels to be displayed on mobile screens. Named in the suit are the iPhone, HTC’s EVO 4G, LG’s Thrill, Samsung’s Galaxy S and Galaxy S II, and Sony’s Xperia Play smartphones. Graphics Properties is seeking to stop sales of infringing products, as well as royalties and other damages.
Oceanhouse Media has released Picture Me Cuddly as a Bunny, a new app for iOS devices that allows users to create personalized omBooks featuring children in their own cuddly as a bunny dress-up story. Parents can take new pictures directly in the app or select photos from the iOS photo library to place their children in adorable baby animal costumes such as a cuddly bunny, wooly lamb, Dalmation puppy and more. Children can then flip through the story and see themselves and other costumed characters in the illustrations along with playful sounds and interactive objects. The app includes standard omBook features such as high-quality artwork based on studio photography, professional audio narration, interaction and word highlighting. Users can also store their photos in the app, use multiple photos within a single story and share their favourite pages via e-mail, print them via AirPrint or save them to the photo library. Picture Me Cuddly as a Bunny is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $1.
In an interview with AllThingsD, Apple VP Michael Tchao has explained in some detail the charging process on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. According to Tchao, all iOS devices do in fact display a 100 percent charge just prior to reaching a complete charge, at which point it will continue charging to 100 percent, then discharge slightly and charge back up, repeating the process for as long as the device is connected. “That circuitry is designed so you can keep your device plugged in as long as you would like,” Tchao said, adding that the process allows devices to maintain an optimum charge. “It’s a great feature that’s always been in iOS.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced plans to file a complaint against Apple for alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) based on the company’s marketing of the third-generation iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G. The announcement reads, “The ACCC alleges that Apple’s recent promotion of the new ‘iPad with WiFi + 4G’ is misleading because it represents to Australian consumers that the product ‘iPad with WiFi + 4G’ can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case.” Of course, all third-generation iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G units sold in Australia can, in fact, connect to 4G LTE networks; Apple is not responsible for pushing local carriers to adopt the technology. The ACCC is seeking urgent interlocutory relief to ensure consumers are made aware of the correct technical capabilities of this device, as well as injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising and refunds to consumers affected.
Logitech has introduced its first speaker to support Apple’s AirPlay wireless audio streaming technology. Dubbed the UE Air Speaker, it features dual tweeters and subwoofers, an integrated, pop-out dock, a 3.5mm auxiliary input, built-in Wi-Fi for AirPlay, and quick setup via the UE Air app. Notably, the system is the first we’ve seen from Logitech to leverage the company’s Ultimate Ears brand. The Logitech UE Air Speaker will be available next month and will sell for $400.
The Omni Group has released an update to its OmniFocus iOS apps adding support for creating repeating actions that occur only on specific days of the week. For example, users can now specify that a task repeats only on Mondays and Fridays, or only on weekdays. Previously, repeat options were limited to either every day or once per week; weekly repeating tasks set for more than one day will repeat multiple times per week on the specified days. The latest version of OmniFocus for iPhone also addresses several other minor issues with forecast view and iCloud Reminders. OmniFocus for iOS is available in two separate versions: OmniFocus for iPhone ($20) and OmniFocus for iPad ($40). OmniFocus for Mac users will also need to download the latest OmniFocus 1.1 for Mac update to support the new flexible weekly repeats.
In the wake of continued reports claiming that the third-generation iPad continues to aggressively draw power long after it reports a 100 percent charge, iLounge has run its own collection of tests that suggest otherwise. Use of a Kill-a-Watt power monitoring tool showed that the new iPad draws up to 12W of wall power under peak conditions—screen brightness at 100 percent with Infinity Blade II playing—but more typically draws 10-11W under two conditions: active “full-speed” recharging with the screen off, or when being used for less graphic-intensive apps with screen brightness at 100%, after having fully recharged. By comparison, with the screen on and brightness set to 50 percent, it draws roughly 7W from the wall while it’s being used after a full recharge, and 5-7W for slower trickle charging. Moreover, after reaching the 100% mark, it quickly drops to drawing only 1-2W of power when the screen’s off and it’s sitting idle. Notably, we saw very similar numbers for the iPad 2, which drew 11W at its most power-hungry, and fell to 4-5W for slower charging.
There’s no doubt that the new iPad is more power-hungry than its predecessor, and there’s also atypical disparity between when the new iPad reports a 100 percent charge and when its battery is actually charged to full capacity—an error that should and hopefully will be fixed in the near future. However, we are not seeing unusual continued charging times or power drain after it reaches the 100% mark. To the contrary, it appears to be drawing less power at that point, just as was the case with the iPad 2. That’s right in line with what we’d expect from an idling device that’s sipping energy to keep its fuel levels at max for eventual disconnection and portable use.
Sonoma Wire Works has released an update to StudioTrack adding a new set of GuitarTone amps and effects, an integrated tuner and a control panel for the GuitarJack hardware accessory. StudioTrack is a multitrack recording app for the iPad that features eight tracks with independent bounce, pan and effects settings on every track as well as a metronome, latency compensation, input monitoring and integration with other audio apps for transferring to desktop recording software. Version 1.5 adds a set of GuitarTone amps and effects featuring interpretations of essential vintage and custom amps and pedals; the app includes three free amps (‘60 Slant, Custom and Tweed Blues) and three free effects (UltraPhase, Drive+ and Va-Room) with additional tones available via in-app purchase for $10 per 12-pack. Additional GuitarTone amps and effects are also available with Sonoma’s GuitarJack audio hardware interface connected; the new version also adds a GuitarJack control panel to allow users to adjust the input settings and modes for the hardware accessory, including selecting line-in channels for mono or stereo recording as well as voice and instrument recording onto two tracks simultaneously. StudioTrack requires an iPad running iOS 4.3 or later and is currently available from the App Store for a discounted price of $10.
Virtualni Atelier has released Space Memory, a new children’s card matching game designed to enhance memory and concentration skills. The game is set in a playful space environment with whimsical background animations such as flying rocket ships, drifting astronauts and even alien cow abductions. Two sets of cards are included each featuring ten different space monsters and ten different space robots set in their own background universes with unique home planets and sounds. Space Memory is available in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Simplified Chinese and Croatian; it is a universal app available from the App Store for $2.
Apple will include Baidu as a default search option in iOS’ Safari browser, according to a new report. Citing informed sources, Chinese-language Sina Technology News (Translated Link) reports that the search engine will be introduced to iOS users in the Chinese market next month, as part of a partnership between Apple and Baidu. Currently, Google is installed as the default search engine in iOS, with options for Yahoo and Bing. It is unclear whether Baidu search will arrive in a system software update, or if Apple will be able to enable support through other means. [via 9to5Mac]
Appigo has released an update to its task management apps for the iPhone and iPad adding support for location-based alerts. Todo is an advanced task manager for iOS devices that allows users to keep track of both simple tasks as well as hierarchical projects and checklists. The app provides advanced features such as repeating tasks, full task searching, GTD support with contexts and tags and contact, e-mail, SMS and phone integration for making calls and sending messages. Users can enable Dropbox or iCloud synchronization to keep their tasks up to date across multiple iOS devices and an online web interface and optional Mac desktop app. Tasks can also be synced with Toodledo.com, iCal or Microsoft Outlook.
The latest version adds support for location alerts similar to those found in the iOS 5 Reminders app, allowing users to set a reminder for when they arrive at or leave a location. Unlike the built-in app, however, which requires users to choose a location from the iOS Contact list and is limited to the iPhone only, Todo supports location alerts in both the iPhone and iPad versions and allows users to specify an arbitrary address or simply select a location by dropping a pin on an integrated map view. Todo is sold in two separate versions: Todo ($5) for the iPhone and iPod touch and ToDo for iPad ($5). Both versions are compatible with iOS 3.1 or later with features such as iCloud sync and Location Alerts requiring iOS 5.0 or later.
Mix1009 has released Equalizer Pro, a new media player for iOS devices offering an advanced equalizer and support for playing back MP3, OGG and FLAC formats. Equalizer Pro allows users to select tracks from the iOS music library or import their own media files via iTunes File Sharing. During playback the application offers an optimized equalizing algorithm designed to be battery-efficient—users can choose from 12 built-in EQ presets or draw their own EQ curves and save their own custom presets; presets can also be assigned on a per-track basis. Metadata such as lyrics and album art and multiple playlists are supported for tracks imported directly and the app also provides standard playback controls such as scrubbing, repeat and shuffle along with remote control support, background audio and album art and track information on the iOS 5 lock screen. Equalizer Pro is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $3.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been spotted taking a tour of an Apple Store in China, leading to speculation that he is there to meet with the country’s three wireless carriers. Citing reports on Chinese micro-blogging service Sina Weibo, AppleInsider reports that a photo of Cook from the Joy City Apple Store in Beijing was posted at 11:00 a.m. “People familiar with the matter” suggested that Cook may be in the area to discuss Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone with China Unicom and China Telecom, the company’s two current carrier partners in the country; it is possible he is also there for talks with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier and the last carrier holdout for Apple in China.
In an going dispute with Motorola Mobility, RIM, and Nokia over Apple’s proposed nano-SIM card, Apple has made a surprisingly generous offer in exchange for the standardization of the technology. Citing a “perfectly reliable source”, FOSS Patents reports that Apple sent a letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) last week, in which it made a commitment to grant royalty-free licenses to any and all Apple patents essential to nano-SIM. The proposal would only become effective if Apple’s proposal is adopted as a standard, and all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.
As noted in the report, the move shows that Apple is serious about establishing the nano-SIM standard, as it should nullify concerns of other handset manufacturers who worried that Apple might eventually own all the patents related to the technology, and thus give it the ability to charge royalties on any nano-SIM-compatible handsets. The new standard proposals are expected to be discussed at ETSI’s Smart Card Platform Plenary meeting later this week.
Apple has received regulatory approval for the third-generation iPad in China. Computerworld reports that the China Quality Certification Center has given the device the China Compulsory Certification, a mandatory stamp necessary for the sale of the device in the country. According to the report, 3G versions of the iPad will still need regulatory approval for a network access permit, but even with the approval, Apple may face roadblocks bringing the device to market thanks to an ongoing trademark dispute over the iPad name in China. Apple has yet to announce a release date for the device in China.
Over the weekend, former Apple engineer Mike Margolis made a statement on Twitter that sparked some controversy over whether Apple was losing its way without its late co-founder Steve Jobs. When responding to a comment from a user who liked the old Apple TV UI—on which Margolis worked—he stated that the “new designs were tossed out 5 years ago because [Steve Jobs] didn’t like them. Now there is nobody to say ‘no’ to bad design.” While most of the discussion has focused on his first comment, subsequent comments explained that the new design is a logical next step “given their desire to match the iOS home page”, and that Jobs may have loved this new iOS-style grid. Margolis also added that the “new AppleTV UI excites me because it is just begging for apps - the old home screen UI was not app friendly/ready at all.” Finally, speaking with TechCrunch, Margolis explains that the original grid designs made little sense in a world where the iPad didn’t exist, people weren’t used to app-grid interfaces, and there was little third-party content for the device to tap into.