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Griffin, Threadless team on cases for iPad + iPhone

Griffin Technology and Threadless have announced a new series of cases for the iPad and iPhone based on desings from the Threadless community. The collection includes the Elan Folio for the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad, which offers a canvas exterior, micro-suede interior, and open access to all ports and controls, and two new patterns for Griffin’s hard, snap-on case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The Griffin + Threadless Elan Folio for iPad is available in four designs and sells for $50, while the iPhone case sells for $25.

Angry Birds Space journeys to the delicious food planet of Utopia

Rovio has released a second free update in as many months to Angry Birds Space, the latest instalment in its widely popular casual game series. Angry Birds Space takes the eponymous birds into the final frontier with a new graphical theme and new space-based gameplay physics and activities. The latest update adds ten new levels and gameplay features as part of the “delicious food planet of Utopia.” New levels are filled with popcorn, cookies, and candy apples along with jelly trampolines to bounce the birds off of and popping corn for additional mayhem. The game is available in two separate versions, Angry Birds Space ($1) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Angry Birds Space HD for the iPad ($3).

Paper adds PDF export

FiftyThree has released an update to Paper, its drawing app for the iPad, adding the ability to export journals as PDFs for opening in other apps or sharing via e-mail. Designed to provide a minimalist user interface for free-form sketching and drawing, Paper effectively turns the entire iPad screen into a canvas with no additional buttons; the app instead relies heavily on a gesture-based user interface for actions such as flipping pages and opening and closing journals. The latest update now allows users to save journals as PDFs that can be opened in other supported iOS apps or shared via e-mail. The new version also expands the Rewind (undo) history, adds a welcome page for the in-app brush store and includes several bug fixes. The free app includes an eraser and single fountain pen drawing tool with 9 colours; additional tools are available via in-app purchase for $2 each or $7 for the full set of four. Paper requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Localscope adds Yelp, new navigation app support

Cynapse has updated Localscope adding Yelp as a new information source and expanding third-party GPS integration for getting directions to a location. Localscope allows users to explore the area around them for people, places, photos and other information aggregated from multiple search engines and social networks. Users can manually or look up information in their nearby area including geo-tagged photos and videos and points of interest and then view those results on a map, share with their friends or get turn-by-turn driving directions from a supported third-party GPS app. Information is aggregated from a variety of sources including Google Local and Places, Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Panoramio, Flickr, Picasa, Bing and several others.

Version 2.4 adds Yelp to the list of existing information sources for users in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K. and Western Europe, greatly expanding the local search options with businesses from one of the world’s largest online local search services. In addition, users of Telenav and MotionX GPS HD can also now use those apps to get turn-by-turn directions to any discovered location. The update also improves Flickr results and removes support for the now-discontinued Fwix service. The release notes also indicate that this is the last version of Localscope that will provide support for iOS 4.3, with the next update requiring iOS 5.0 or later, and recommends that users install this update for a “smooth transition to future versions.” Localscope is available from the App Store as a free download.

Report claims next-gen iPhone gets iOS 6, keeps A5, SGX543 chip

A new report has emerged claiming knowledge of a number of details related to the hardware inside the next-generation iPhone. Citing an unnamed source, 9to5Mac reports that the handset is powered by a new variant of the A5 chip found in the iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and third-generation iPad, with a SGX543-based GPU, now with 1GB of RAM. The chip is dubbed the ARM S5L8950X, and the GPU is currently being called SGX543RC*, with the asterisk representing a “sensitive number that could identify people working on the device.” These details are noteworthy only in that they reduce the possibility that the new iPhone will sport an A6 processor with more power than the current-generation iPad; it appears more likely that this new A5-based chip will focus on lower power consumption, instead.

The report claims that prototypes of the handset are running iOS 6, with a Darwin Kernel Version of 13.0.0, or a full release higher than found in the most recent developer beta of OS X Mountain Lion. According to the source, Apple is in the latter stages of iOS 6 development, to the point where an October release would seem easily reachable, and an earlier release is a possibility. Finally, the report claims that the revamped Maps application in iOS 6 will not feature a 3D button next to the location button, as previously reported—that button will be hidden underneath the main map interface, in the bottom right scroll/menu—and that the application will likely undergo several changes before release.

Pre-paid carrier Cricket to launch iPhone on June 22

Cricket Wireless has announced that it will be the first pre-paid carrier to offer the iPhone, which it will launch on Friday, June 22. According to the announcement, the carrier will offer both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S with its $55 a month unlimited talk, text, and data plan. The 16GB model of the iPhone 4S will sell for $500 through the carrier, while the 8GB iPhone 4 will be priced at $400. “Our customers want the best products available and we are excited to bring iPhone to our pre-paid consumers with an industry leading $55 per-month service plan,” said Doug Hutcheson, president and CEO of Leap Wireless, which owns Cricket. “Launching iPhone is a major milestone for us and we are proud to offer iPhone customers attractive nationwide coverage, a robust 3G data network and a value-packed, no-contract plan.”

Next-gen iPhone design document appears online

An Apple design document showing the design of the next-generation iPhone has appeared online. As noted by Cydia Blog, the document matches the panel parts and frames that surfaced yesterday, and shows the increased screen size as well as the repositioned FaceTime camera. Notably, we have heard that the general design of the device is done, but that the exact positions of ports and other details have yet to be finalized; as such, this document depicts the general design of the next-generation device, but may not accurately depict the final location of ports and other details.

Bloomberg, Inkling, Mobile Roadie talk app creation in iDesign ‘12

Alongside our The New iPad Buyers’ Guide’s interviews with Geneva Lab and Soundfreaq on speaker-making, our 2012 installment of iDesign also features discussions with leading app developers Bloomberg, Inkling, and Mobile Roadie. While each company focuses on different parts of the market, all three have created some of the best user experiences on Apple’s still young mobile OS, and serve as examples for how to rethink classic media for powerful touchscreen devices.

Unlike the other two featured developers, Bloomberg has its roots in traditional news reporting—but that hasn’t stopped it from wholeheartedly embracing digital distribution of its magazine and news content. “The app was started after the print redesign,” Oke Okaro, Bloomberg’s General Manager & Global Head of Mobile and Connected Devices, said of the company’s BusinessWeek+ app. “[T]he goal was to reimagine the magazine in an original ‘made for tablet’ experience that preserves the authenticity of the brand and enriches the story telling.” Okaro also discussed the company’s decision to offer certain features and content in separate apps, the benefits of Newsstand, the possibility of Bloomberg on Apple TV, and more.

Founded by a former Apple employee, Inkling’s mission has been to create next-generation books for next-generation platforms—a mission it started long before Apple decided to offer its own solution. “Inkling titles are inherently cross platform,” Inkling CEO and founder Matt MacInnis said of his company’s opportunity to differentiate itself. “Soon, we’ll be offering everything we’ve made for the Web, too, so users without Apple devices will be able to access Inkling.” MacInnis also provides a look at the company’s decision to use cards instead of pages as a paradigm for its books, education adoption, and what’s next for the company.

Unlike traditional iDesign participants, Mobile Roadie doesn’t actually build apps for itself—instead, it provides one of the most popular platforms for companies and individuals looking to expand their mobile presence to a native iOS app. Company CEO and co-founder Michael Schneider told us that in late 2008, his design company was receiving more requests for apps than anything else. “t didn’t make sense to make each app from scratch,” he told us. “Our customers couldn’t afford the $50,000+ price tag and to wait for months. By empowering anyone that can use a computer to make their own app, we were able to democratize app creation, and in the process bring the price way down and the time to market way faster.”

There’s much more to read in our iDesign 2012 section of The New iPad Buyers’ Guide, which is available now as a free download.

Tekkeon intros TekCharge MP1820 battery pack

Tekkeon has introduced its new TekCharge MP1820 Pocket Power Pack for the iPhone and iPod. The MP1820 features a 4800 mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery, the ability to deliver device-specific power from 100mA to 1.2A, color-coded LED battery level indicators, a built-in emergency flashlight, a standard USB port for connecting a USB to 30 pin cable, and a mini USB charging port. Tekkeon’s TekCharge MP 1820 Pocket Power Pack for the iPhone, iPod, and other portable devices is available now and sells for $50.

Swim Guide expands to California beaches

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has updated its free Swim Guide app for the iPhone and iPod touch adding up-to-date water quality information for nearly 300 beaches in California. First released last year, Swim Guide provides information on over 1,300 beaches throughout North America including Miami, FL, Mobile, AL, the Great Lakes, British Columbia, Alberta and more, including descriptions and panoramic photos along with water quality information to help beach-goers determine if the water is safe for swimming. The app uses regularly updated water quality data from a wide variety of beach monitoring sources including government authorities, with updates provided as frequently as the information is gathered thereby allowing users to check the status and cleanliness of their local beaches in real time. Users can also compare current and historical water quality information for many beaches and use location services to find their closest beaches and get driving directions. Users can also bookmark their favourite beaches and share their beach adventures with friends and family via Facebook and Twitter. Swim Guide requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Geneva, Soundfreaq share speaker design wisdom in iDesign ‘12

Continuing a tradition that dates back to 2008, iLounge’s just-released New iPad Buyers’ Guide includes the fifth installment of our iDesign series. Created to share the wisdom of leading Apple third-party designers with a wider audience, the series has been filled with insightful information from the makers themselves—and this year’s edition is amongst the best to date. Spanning over 20 pages, it includes interviews with representatives from several companies, notably including speaker makers Geneva Lab and Soundfreaq.

Based in Switzerland, Geneva Lab brings a specific, minimal aesthetic to its speaker designs, something the company founder and CEO Jan-Erik Lundberg talked about in our interview. “We’ve always approached each product with the idea of design integrity that each system should be easily identifiable as a Geneva product without having to see the label”, said Lundberg. “Any new product idea we have starts with continuity with our past.” The company has also taken a no-compromises approach to its products, relying on superior materials and memorable designs during years that saw most rivals churning out forgettable alternatives.

By comparison, Soundfreaq is a young company, but forged a strong identity and philosophy of its own after creating the original iPod accessory lineup for Memorex. In one of our favorite iDesign interviews ever, Creative Director Matthew Paprocki explained the company’s focus on boxy, thoughtful speakers at aggressive prices. “Ultimately, speakers are about moving air volume,” he said. “Our rectangular forms are space efficient and allow us to make the biggest acoustic impact with the smallest footprint… We also want our style to be classic and timeless, not fleeting. We’re not making disposable products.”

You can find much more from both interviews in The New iPad Buyers’ Guide, which is available now as a free download.

Lola’s Math Train helps develop kids’ math skills

BeiZ has released Lola’s Math Train, a new educational iOS app designed to teach math skills to children from ages 3 to 8. Children are invited to join Lola Panda on her journey through a fun filled environment of bright colours and interactive characters while solving puzzles, completing addition and subtraction problems, identifying incorrect sequencing and replicating patterns. The app features an easy-to-use design with nineteen mathematics games and various starting levels of difficultly to choose from which advance as children’s skills improve. Lola’s Math Train is a universal app requiring iOS 3.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.

New Apple TV OS to appear at WWDC?

Apple will demonstrate a new version of the Apple TV operating system at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, according to a new report. Citing a “trusted source,” BGR claims that the new OS is more “feature-complete” than the current OS that runs on the set-top box, and says that it’s the same version that will run on Apple’s as-yet-unannounced HDTV set. The report goes on to claim that Apple is actively courting manufacturers to use a new “control out” API that would allow third-party devices such as cable set-top boxes to make their accessories compatible with the new OS and allow Apple’s gear to control connected components. BGR’s source believes Apple is unlikely to actually debut the HDTV set at the event.

It is worth noting that BGR has a mixed track record when it comes to predicting future Apple announcements, and while the debut of an upcoming OS upgrade for the Apple TV would make sense from some points of view—allowing developers to start coding apps for both the Apple TV and the expected HDTV set, for instance—it would make for an extremely crowded keynote presentation, as Apple is already expected to discuss iOS 6, iCloud, and its upcoming Mountain Lion release, and might also use part of the event to discuss new MacBook hardware. In addition, it seems somewhat unlikely that Apple would replace the Apple TV’s OS so quickly after introducing a new version earlier this year, although the move wouldn’t be entirely without precedent, and might improve compatibility between living room devices before a new Apple television rollout.

Highlight video of Apple CEO Cook at D10 now available

AllThingsD has posted a video of some of the highlights from Apple CEO Tim Cook’s on-stage interview last evening. During the interview, Cook discussed several large topics, including Apple post-Steve Jobs, the company’s TV efforts, Siri and potential upcoming features for the virtual assistant, the company’s Chinese manufacturing partners and work conditions at those factories, the tablet market and iPad’s potential, and the company’s ongoing patent disputes with various companies. Notably, Cook dodged repeated questions related to a potential HDTV business, hinted at potential Facebook integration on iOS, and suggested that the company will unveil several new features for Siri at its WWDC conference, which begins on June 11. The video is roughly 17 minutes in length and can be seen by visiting the above link.

Civilization Revolution adds more scenarios, Game Center integration

2K Games has updated Civilization Revolution introducing 10 new scenarios, new animated units and Game Center integration. Civlization Revolution is an iOS version of the popular Civilization empire-building strategy game adapted from the console title of the same name, challenging players to build their fledgling civilization through war, diplomacy, research and trade. This latest update adds ten additional in-game scenarios to provide new challenges, including Empire of Wealth where players must win an economic victory through trade or conquest, Renaissance which challenges players to create the most cultured empire in the world and Ice Age where players must struggle to survive and thrive against the elements. New animated units have also been added along with a Game Center Victory Point Leaderboard and achievements. Civilization Revolution is available from the App Store in two versions: Civilization Revolution ($1) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Civilization Revolution for iPad ($2). iCloud support provides saved game synchronization across multiple iOS devices.

Soulver adds AirPrint support, UI improvements

Acqualia has released an update to its Soulver apps for iOS adding Retina Display support for the third-generation iPad, iOS 5 improvements, AirPrint support and more. Soulver is a notepad style calculator app designed to allow users to handle both quick and complex calculations in an intuitive and easy to track user interface. Calculations are entered line by line and users can employ words alongside numbers to help make values clearer to read and employ as algebraic variables.

Soulver 1.6 adds support for printing calculations via AirPrint and makes several improvements to syncing via Dropbox and iTunes File Sharing. Several new user interface features have also been added including new swipe gestures to show and hide the files drawer, visual improvements to the variables editor and more intuitive insertion of line references along with the ability to use the iPhone version in landscape orientation. The keyboard has also been improved under iOS 5 with spell-checking, autocorrect and smart editing features now available when the alphabetic keyboard is selected and better hiding behaviour. The update also adds 90 additional currencies with more intuitive conversion when using the currencies keyboard and simplifies the settings view with the ability to add, remove and rearrange currencies. Soulver 1.6 is available from the App Store in two versions: Soulver ($3) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Soulver for iPad ($5). Both versions require iOS 5.0 or later.

Skinit debuts custom Infinity Case for iPhone 4, 4S

Skinit has debuted its new Infinity Case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The Infinity Case is a two-part protective case featuring a main piece that wraps around the sides of the device while allowing for open access to all ports and controls, as well as a customizable, interchangeable rear plate that covers the majority of the back while leaving open access to the rear camera. According to the company, customers can use the Customizer tool to upload their own photos for use on the rear plate, or choose from one of the company’s thousands of pre-made professional designs. Skinit’s new Infinity Case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S is available now and sells for $25 with a pre-made design or $30 for a custom model.

Otterbox teases Armor Series case for iPhone 4, 4S

Otterbox has posted a teaser page and video for its upcoming Armor Series case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Billed by the long-time case maker as “the toughest case we’ve ever built”, the Armor Series promises to be drop proof, dust proof, crush proof, and waterproof; a promotional video posted on the teaser page makes mention of a thermoplastic shell—precision fit to within 3/1000 of an inch—and a medical-grade stainless steel latch. Otterbox’s new Armor Series case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S will be available on June 24.

Purported photos of iOS 6 Maps app emerge

Photos claiming to show bits and pieces of Apple’s revamped Maps application for iOS 6 have been posted online. Citing a trusted source who supplied both information and photos, BGR reports that the app will feature a refreshed interface and a new navigation bar. The bar in the new Maps is said to be silver, instead of blue—potentially indicating a system-wide switch away from the blue-tinted navigation bars that have dominated Apple’s built-in apps since the iPhone launched in 2007—and the app is said to sport a floating locate me button in the bottom left corner. The report goes on to state that users will be able to access the new 3D mode by peeling back the lower right hand corner—similar to the current version of Maps—and that once enabled, you can toggle 3D on/off using a dedicated button that sits to the right of the location button. Judging by the photos, it appears Apple’s new mapping offering will look at least somewhat similar to the maps seen in iPhoto for iOS, which was the first Apple-built iOS app to rely on in-house mapping technology.

Next-gen iPhone backplate appears, matches report

A part claimed to be the back plate and sides of the next-generation iPhone has appeared online. 9to5Mac has posted a photo from iPhone repair shop iFixyouri, showing a part that closely matches prior artist renderings posted by iLounge in our next-gen iPhone specs report. Most notably, the back plate does in fact show an aluminum plate taking up the majority of the rear of the phone, with what are presumed to be glass panels at the top and bottom; the Dock Connector also appears to be smaller and closer to a pill shape, as we previously reported.

The housing also shows several other notable changes from the current iPhone design. Apple has separated the rear camera sensor and LED flash further, adding what appears to be a secondary microphone hole between them, and the headphone port appears to have been moved to the bottom left hand corner—with the device facing display-up—now sitting alongside a series of holes that serve as the access vents for the main microphone. On the opposite side of the bottom are a larger number of dots for the main speaker, which the report claims will be louder and of higher quality than the current model. The report also claims that black and white won’t be the only colors available this year, however, there is a chance that these other colored parts will not make it into production; similar reports regarding a red variation of the iPhone 3G/3GS were not followed by actual releases.

Update: More photos showing a white-ended back plate have been posted by Engadget. The white part seems to be generally identical to the black part seen earlier, save for the color.


Update x2: 9to5Mac has posted a number of new, more detailed photos show both black and white parts. The aluminum back plates and metal sides of the parts appear to correspond to the glass color, with the black model receiving a gunmetal-tinted plate and sides, while the white model appears to have metal of a more traditional, silver shade. In addition, the new photos suggest that the next-generation iPhone will incorporate the same Micro-SIM standard as the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, and a shot showing a purported black front plate suggests that the front-facing camera will move from its current position on the left-hand side of the main speaker hole to a spot centered above it.

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