Griffin and Crayola have announced a new lineup of co-branded headphones and cases. Debuted at the 2012 CES, the MyPhones volume-limited headphones and earphones are capped at a peak volume of 85 dB or lower—the maximum level recommended by a variety of auditory health organizations. The over-ear headphones come in two color combinations—pink/purple and blue/green—and come with stickers and markers for customization. They are priced at $25, while the earbuds feature Crayola’s crayon wrapper design, come with their own crayon-shaped carrying case, include three sizes of silicone ear cushions, and come in purple, pink, green, and blue, with pricing set at $15.
The new cases include the Color Clickers and Crayon Classics cases for the fourth-generation iPod touch. Color Clickers combine a polycarbonate shell with 28 interchangeable color stripes, giving users a variety of customization options, while the Crayon Classics resemble Crayola’s crayon wrappers, and available in purple, pink, green, red, and blue. Both cases offer open access to all ports, controls, and cameras, and sell for $25.
The service formerly known as Read It Later has just received a major redesign and a new name: Pocket. Similar to—and actually predating—services such as Instapaper and Readability, Read It Later was one of the first services to allow users to save content from the web for offline reading, although it was not as widely adopted on the iOS platform due to the early lack of an official iOS app for the service.
Read It Later has now been rebranded across the board to Pocket, with a major refresh on both the web service end and the iOS app. Version 4.0 of the app has been redesigned from the ground up to provide a cleaner and lighter reading experience along with new features for viewing and organizing content. Pocket provides a whole new UI with content displayed in an easy visual layout specifically adapted for either the iPhone or iPad versions with fewer toolbars and a new full-screen mode that allows users to focus on the content rather than the app. Filters can now be used to switch between saved articles, videos and images and users can now bulk edit, favourite and tag items in their Pocket collection for quicker and easier organization. The update also adds improvements to syncing, downloading and sharing of content along with numerous bug fixes. Pocket is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Verizon Wireless today announced its first quarter 2012 financial results, which included activation of 3.2 million iPhones. MacRumors reports that while iPhone sales were down from 4.3 million in the prior quarter, they still accounted for more than half of the company’s 6.3 million smartphone units sold during the period. In addition, Verizon claimed that 4G LTE users now make up 9.1 percent of Verizon’s wireless user base, although it is unknown what portion of those are third-generation iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G owners.
Apple is testing a new system which would automatically backup the device of any customer seeking an iOS device exchange or replacement at an Apple Store Genius Bar, according to a new report. Citing retail sources, 9to5Mac reports that the system is based on a wireless server that would securely and temporarily store a user’s content locally, then automatically wipe the content once the device swap is made. The report indicates that this backup information could come from iCloud or the device itself, and that this solution is preferable to simply relying on an iCloud backup as the process of restoring from an iCloud backup is typically takes too long. The system is said to be in the very early stages of testing, and should it launch, Apple is planning to pilot the system in a few select store by mid-2013, with a full-scale launch coming later that year.
PopCap has released updates to Plants vs Zombies for both the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad adding a new game mode, additional mini-games and more new content. The latest update of Plants vs Zombies for iPhone adds a new “Vasebreaker Endless” mode that moves the former mini-game into the mainstream challenging players to survive nine unique levels as they battle zombies hiding in vases and compete for high scores in the Vasebreaker leaderboard.
In Plants vs Zombies HD for the iPad, users can also now relax and start their very own Zen Garden with a unique collection of plants that can be grown to collect rewards; users can find new plants in the game or get Marigolds and Mystery Sprouts to plant from Crazy Dave. Players can also now see how the other side lives with the new nine-level “I, Zombie Endless” game mode which challenges them to help the zombies get past the plants to their brainy rewards. The latest version also adds four new mini-games: Slot Machine, Zombiquarium, Portal Combat and Beghouled Twist with fun new challenges and adds four new achievements in the iPhone/iPod touch version and 28 new achievements for the iPad version. New coin packs are also now available for in-app purchase and language support has been added for French, Italian, German and Spanish. Plants vs Zombies is available from the App Store in two versions, Plants vs Zombies ($3) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Plants vs Zombies HD ($7) for the iPad.
FreshGames has released Cubis Creatures, an evolution of the highly acclaimed three-dimensional match-3 puzzler Cubis. The new game provides a completely refreshed mobile version of the title with a vibrant visual presentation for the iOS platform and advanced puzzles to challenge both new players and die-hard Cubis fans alike. Each level is individually crafted and provides unique gameplay with a dynamic cube queue that randomly presents an assortment of cubes and power ups that players must strategically use to clear each level. Players will also be able to compete in Cubis Daily Tournaments against other players around the world and Game Center integration provides tracking of achievements and leaderboards. The game includes 80 levels with additional level packs available via in-app purchase. Cubis Creatures is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $1. A free lite version is also available with 20 levels and a single character.
In celebration of Earth Day and National Parks Week, Fotopedia has released a new update to its National Parks app for iOS with support for the third-generation iPad Retina Display and a collection of new photos and visual stories. Fotopedia National Parks takes users on a visual exploration of the 58 National Parks across the U.S. with over 3,000 high-resolution images with point-of-interest descriptions throughout. The new version features a new Visual Stories section, published several times per week that provides a new way to experience the beauty and adventures of the National Parks in a magazine format.
The extraordinary image collection contained in the app is the result of a ten-year project by renowned photographer Quang-Tuan Luong who was the first person to photograph all 58 U.S. National Parks with a large format camera, travelling over 100,000 miles and producing extremely detailed photos that immerse the viewer in the landscapes. Users can navigate through the collection by searching or using smart tags and interactive maps as well as viewing instant slideshows and downloading free wallpapers; users can also mark photos as favourites to build their own personalized albums and share photos via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. The app also includes a trip planner and itinerary builder for planning a visit to any of the various National Parks. Fotopedia National Parks is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
2ndNature has updated ShutterSnitch with a number of improvements in geo-tagging features and image management. ShutterSnitch allows iPad users to wirelessly transfer and view camera images on their device using accessories such as an Eye-Fi card or built-in camera file transmitters that support uploading to an FTP server over a wireless network. In addition to simply presenting photos for preview, ShutterSnitch can also analyze photos based on a set of custom-defined rules to notify the user with visual or audible warnings if parameters such as shutter speed, aperture or ISO are out of spec. Users can geo-tag incoming photos, arrange shoots into albums, resize and watermark photos and share them via services such as e-mail, FTP, Flickr, SmugMug, Dropbox and Facebook.
ShutterSnitch 2.3 adds printing and other actions to the limited-mode view of photos along with map integration to show geo-tagged locations in filmstrip view; locations can also now be modified when running in super user mode. A new Backpack Mode for iOS 5 users allows the app to continue running beyond the normal 10 minute limitations when left in the foreground with the screen, such as when closing a Smart Cover or pressing the sleep/wake button. The new version also now allows multiple photos to be selected when importing from the iPad photo library, improves access to application settings and adds settings for maximum cache image dimensions and a new size-to-fit watermark option. ShutterSnitch 2.3 requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $16.
Fomola has released an update to Blogsy adding Retina Display support for the new iPad, integration with Tumblr and Vimeo and a number of additional new features and enhancements. Blogsy is a tool for creating, writing and editing blog posts designed specifically with the iPad touchscreen interface in mind, making it easy to work with both text and rich media content; users can easily drag-and-drop images into posts from services such as Flickr, Picasa and Google Image search or even directly from the integrated web browser or create links by dragging and dropping URLs. The app provides rich-text editing and direct HTML support and multiple blogs and services along with support for local drafts, scheduled posts, and more.
Version 3.4 adds Tumblr compatibility with support for all of the various post types such as quote posts, audio posts and video posts. Vimeo support has also been added to allow users to easily embed videos in their posts via drag-and-drop with no need to worry about embed codes. For WordPress users, the new version introduces access to the WordPress Media Library along with support for inserting PDF, document and audio files into a post as well as custom field support for blog posts, post format support and sticky support; users with self-hosted WordPress blogs can also now set or edit the featured image for their blog directly from the iPad or from their WordPress Media Library. Local drafts have also been improved with the ability to keep a local draft in the app even after publishing a post and live display of new posts in the local drafts listing. Numerous other smaller improvements have also been made for IBM Connections, TypePad and Blogger including foreign language character support, dynamic image resizing and parsing engine enhancements as well as improved integration with Flickr for viewing private images and more image sizes. Blogsy requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.
Apple has released Configurator 1.0.1, the latest version of its mass deployment tool for iOS devices. Originally debuted in March, Configurator enables schools, businesses, and other institutions to configure up to 30 iOS devices at a time, update software, create and restore backups of settings and app data, and more. According to the release notes, version 1.0.1 improves overall stability and performance, and address a number of issues, including those related to the import and installation of .ipa files, redemption codes, note and bookmark deletion, WPA2 passwords, and backup name editing. Apple Configurator 1.0.1 is available now as a free download from the Mac App Store. [via MDN]
Intel and Microsoft have been working with first-tier PC vendors in an effort to develop new tablet PCs based on Windows 8, which the companies hope will drag the iPad’s global market share to below 50 percent by the middle of next year, according to a new report. Citing Taiwan-based ODMs, DigiTimes reports that 32 Windows 8 tablet PCs will be launched by HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asustek, and Toshiba by the end of 2012, with entry-level models to run under $300 and target Android tablet PCs, and models over $300 to be targeted directly at the iPad. The report claims that Microsoft will release Windows 8 for x86 platforms in September and Windows RT, a version built specifically for ARM architectures, at a later date. [via AppleInsider]
Logitech has introduced its new Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the third-generation iPad and iPad 2. The Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a slim aluminum cover that attaches to the iPad with a magnetic clip, and features a built-in Bluetooth keyboard with stand, support for the iPad’s magnetic sleep/wake functionality, a piano black finish, function keys for improved navigation, and a six-month battery life. Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is available for pre-order now and is expected to ship later this month for $100; for more information, see our First Look article.
MumboJumbo has released a new iPad hidden object game, The Midnight Mysteries: Haunted Houdini. The fourth entry in the company’s long-running Midnight Mysteries adventure game series, Haunted Houdini takes players on a mystical journey where they must help the spirit of the famed illusionists wife Bess unravel the secrets of what really led to her husband’s death. Along the way, players will discover aspects of Houdini’s life such as his obsession with debunking mediums and his passing involvement with a vindictive secret society while they solve puzzles, adapt objects into tools and consult with famous ghosts such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Howard Thurston. The game provides highly detailed visuals and sound effects along with dozens of challenging puzzles to solve, story-driven hidden object scenes and a detailed hint system. Players can choose from three game modes with different levels of difficulty for the novice and experienced player alike. The Midnight Mysteries: Haunted Houdini is available from the App Store for $7 with an optional Collector’s Edition upgrade available via in-app purchase for $3. The Collector’s Edition adds an exclusive bonus chapter and game mode along with a detailed illustrated strategy guide and additional fan content such as wallpapers and sketch art.
Wolfgang Augustin has released Reader X, a new Google Reader client for iPad users. Taking an approach somewhere between traditional list-based news readers and magazine-style content aggregators, Reader X presents the user’s Google Reader news feed in a large, wallpaper-style grid. All headlines are displayed in a single view, with each feed presented as a horizontal stripe with items ordered chronologically; users swipe horizontally to browse through items in a single feed or vertically to browse down through additional feeds in their Google Reader account.
Colour coding is used to differentiate unread, starred and read items with colour gradients used to represent the age of each item—newer items use more vibrant, saturated colours while older items are more faded. Users can display only unread or starred items with a single tap or zoom into a feed by tapping its title to present the individual feed in a scrollable grid view. Reader X also provides options for starring, saving and sharing articles via e-mail, Readability, Instapaper, Read It Later, Pinboard, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. Users can also use Readability and Instapaper to render web pages for quick reading on the go. Reader X requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
Apple and Samsung have agreed to meet for a Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference in an effort to resolve their ongoing patent disputes. FOSS Patents reports that the talks will be held in San Francisco and will include Apple CEO Tim Cook and general counsel Bruce Sewell, as well as Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi and Sewell’s counterpart at the South Korean company. The talks will be overseen by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero; as noted in the report, the court can obligate the two companies to meet and talk, but can’t force a settlement.
Electric Pocket has released an update to MailTones adding push notification support for the new Sparrow e-mail client for iOS. MailTones allows users to receive customized push notifications for new e-mail messages from just about any third-party e-mail service. The iOS app is combined with an online service where users are given a customized e-mail address that they forward messages to for notification purposes. Notifications for messages forwarded to the MailTones servers are sent to the MailTones app which can be configured to play any of 60 different alert sounds based on a variety of criteria such as sender address, sending domain, subject line and recipient address. Users can also choose to set unimportant messages to silent notifications or none at all and can specify a “Do Not Disturb” time period during which no notifications are received.
Integration with the Sparrow e-mail client released last month provides a workaround for Sparrow’s current lack of direct push notification support; users can now configure MailTones to automatically launch Sparrow when a push notification is received to view the new e-mail messages. MailTones is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $3; use of the developer’s push notification servers is included in the price of the app with no recurring fees.
Dropico has updated its Filter Mania photo filters app, making all Pro filters available for free in the latest version in celebration of the upcoming release of its next major update, Filtermania 2. Filter Mania provides an advanced collection of photo filters and allows users to combine multiple filters to create their own unique effects. Users can capture camera images directly in the app or choose existing images from the camera roll and share their creations via Instagram. The app includes twelve professional filters with more available to download and as of version 1.6 all Pro filters are available at no additional charge. The update also introduces 20 new free FilterMania 2 pre-launch filters that users can also download for a sneak preview of what’s coming in the next version. Filter Mania is available from the App Store as a free download.
Verizon Wireless today announced the latest expansion of its 4G LTE network, which will see coverage for more than two-thirds of the U.S. population when it goes live April 19. The expansion will include 27 new markets and the expansion of coverage in 44 other markets, for a total of 230 markets covered; Verizon plans to offer LTE service in more than 400 markets, covering 260 million people, by the end of the year. Apple included support for LTE data service in the third-generation iPad and is expected to include it in the next-generation iPhone.
“Verizon Wireless 4G LTE is the premier wireless data service in the nation, with more than six times the geographic coverage of our nearest competitor’s 4G LTE network and now available to more than two-thirds of the nation’s population,” said David Small, chief technical officer of Verizon Wireless. “We will continue to introduce new markets and expand covered markets to ensure even more wireless users across the United States can take advantage of the benefits that 4G LTE brings to consumers, small businesses and enterprises.”
Mophie has rolled out its new Powerstation Pro battery pack for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other USB-charging devices. First seen at the 2012 CES, the Powerstation Pro is water-, dust-, and sand-resistant, with a rugged aluminum and black rubber body, a 6,000 mAh battery supporting fast 2.1A charging of the iPad, LED charging indicators, and a full-size USB port for charging. Mophie’s Powerstation Pro battery pack is available now and sells for $130.
Zane Rowe, executive vice president and Chief Financial Officer for United Continental—owner of United Airlines—is leaving his position to become a vice president of sales at Apple. “We are thrilled that Zane Rowe will be joining us as one of our vice presidents of sales,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told AllThingsD. “He built a great team at United and we think he is going to do a fantastic job at Apple.” Rowe has served as United’s CFO since October 2010, according to the report.