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DigiPower intros ChargeCard battery for iPhone, iPod

DigiPower has introduced its new ChargeCard battery pack for the iPhone, iPod, and other USB-charging devices. Touted by the company as a credit card-sized, wallet- and purse-friendly charger, it features a 720mAh battery which DigiPower claims is good for two extra hours of talk time, weighs just 1.2 ounces, and measures just 1/4” thick. No pricing or release information has yet been announced.

Ntelos now selling iPhone off-contract

Ntelos is now offering the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S off-contract. According to the company’s iPhone page, pricing for the off-contract units starts at $550 for the 8GB iPhone 4 and runs all the way up to $850 for a 64GB iPhone 4S. As noted by Engadget, the off-contract units are eligible for the company’s $55/month FRAWG plan that includes unlimited voice, messaging, and data; on-contract models require one of the company’s regular smartphone plans, which start at $70 a month.

‘iPad mini’ to be assembled in Brazil?

Apple’s rumored smaller iPad model will be assembled in Foxconn’s Brazil factory, according to a new report. AppleInsider points to Japanese-language MacOtakara, which sites a “reliable Chinese source” as saying that while CNC machine testing for the device has finished in China, actual assembly of the device will take place at Foxconn’s factory in Jundiai, Brazil. The report goes on to state that production is expected to start in September, ramping up in time for the holiday shopping season. In addition, it claims that the new device is roughly the same height as Google’s recently-announced Nexus 7 tablet, but is slightly wide and is closer in thickness to an iPod touch than other iPads.

AT&T to launch stolen device blocking system July 10

AT&T will launch a new service for reporting and blocking stolen devices on July 10, according to a new report. Citing a trusted source, The Verge reports that the service will let customers deny voice, data, and SMS access to any individual device while keeping their account intact. According to an internal message sent to AT&T customer service representatives, the company will compile a “blocklist” of stolen devices, which will be used to automatically suspend service if an attempt is made to use a device on the list. Customers will need to contact customer service directly to add their device to the list, and will also be asked to activate any remote wipe features of their devices beforehand so as to “prevent access to their personal information.”

Third-gen iPad to launch in China on July 27?

Apple will launch the third-generation iPad in mainland China on July 27, according to a new report. Citing Chinese-language PCPOP, M.I.C. Gadget reports that the device will be available for purchase in Apple’s company-owned retail stores, as well as in Suning electronics stores. Strangely, the device suggests that Apple will refrain from launching the Wi-Fi + Cellular model in the country—a move that would be highly unusual, considering it currently offers 3G-enabled models of the iPad 2 in China—and also claims that it will sell for the same price as the current iPad 2, which has been the case in most other countries where it’s launched.

Apple responds to App Store corruption, begins re-delivering updates

In the wake of a report late Wednesday that many App Store customers were receiving corrupt downloads, Jim Dalrymple of The Loop has received a response from Apple explaining that the problem occurred due to “a temporary issue that began yesterday with a server that generated DRM code for some apps being downloaded.”

Although Apple claims in its statement that only “a small number of users” were affected, Marco Arment who originally reported the problem tracked over 114 affected apps, including popular titles such as GoodReader; Arment further noted that over 20,000 of his own customers were affected by Instapaper alone.

Apple goes on to indicate that “the issue has been rectified and [they] don’t expect it to occur again” and suggests that affected users can simply delete these corrupt apps and re-download them. It appears however that the App Store has begun re-delivering all App updates sent out since Tuesday, when the problem is believed to have begun, possibly providing users with the ability to easily reinstall non-corrupted versions of these updates without losing any data in the process.

Apple releases Configurator 1.1

Apple has released Configurator 1.1, the latest version of its mass deployment tool for iOS devices. 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 1.1 improves reliability and ease of use when installing paid apps with Volume Purchase Program redemption codes, adds new preferences to disable the automatic removal of apps or profiles installed by the user when a configuration is reapplied and disable reapplying a configuration each time a supervised device is connected, includes small changes to the profile editor, and ensures that VPP codes are no longer marked as invalid if the App Store is unavailable. Apple Configurator 1.1 is available now as a free download from the Mac App Store.

Apple’s iOS Maps to use AutoNavi in China

Apple has chosen AutoNavi to supply map services in China, according to a new report. Citing people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that AutoNavi will supply maps of China to users running iOS 6 on their devices. AutoNavi set up a joint venture with TomTom—a known supplier of mapping data for Apple’s iOS 6 Maps application—in 2010. Apple touted improved support for Chinese services in iOS 6 during its WWDC keynote address.

Reports point to ‘iPad mini’ launch

Two new reports have reiterated that Apple plans to launch a sub 8-inch iPad before the end of the year. Citing people with knowledge of the plans, Bloomberg reports that the new model will have a screen that’s between 7 and 8 inches in size diagonally, and may be announced in October. The report also states that the new product will not have the “high-definition” screen seen in the third-generation iPad. In a separate report, the Wall Street Journal cites people familiar with the situation as it states that the device will sport a screen smaller than 8 inches in size. The report goes on to claim that Apple and its component suppliers are preparing for mass production to ramp up in September, which suggests a launch later this year. Apple has long been rumored to be working on such a device; the frequency of reports suggesting a near-term launch have increased greatly this year.

Developers, users reporting problems with corrupt App Store downloads

A number of users appear to be having problems with some apps crashing on launch following updates downloaded from the App Store. Instapaper developer Marco Arment reports that “within minutes of Apple approving the Instapaper 4.2.3 update” last night, he was “deluged by support email and Twitter messages” from users indicating the the app was crashing on launch, even with a clean install. Arment notes that not only had Apple obviously reviewed the app, but that his own submitted version worked fine, yet when he downloaded the update himself it “crashed instantly.”

Arment goes on to report that in some regions the App Store is sending out a “seemingly corrupt update” with the U.S. and U.K. being specifically affected, but not Australia as far as he was able to tell. Developer Ken Seto of Massive Damage notes that the issue may be affecting some Canadian users as well. Arment lists several apps that have been reported to him as causing issues, including his own Instapaper app along with GoodReader, Readdle Scanner Pro, Threadnote, Please Stay Calm, Angry Birds Space HD Free and more and notes that he contacted App Review very shortly after the Instapaper update went live and it appears that a functional version of Instapaper began being distributed on reinstalls and doesn’t appear to have recurred since. Users who are experiencing a problem with newly downloaded apps crashing due to corruption will likely need to wait until a good copy is being served again by the App Store, and then delete and reinstall the app.

PCalc adds user-defined constants with iCloud sync

TLA Systems has released an update to PCalc for iOS adding support for user-defined constants and new functions from the Mac OS X version. PCalc is an advanced universal calculator app designed for scientists, engineers and programmers that provides an optional RPN mode with customizable button layouts, extensive unit conversions and numerous advanced calculation and notation features. Version 2.6 now allows users to add and edit their own constants which can be exported via e-mail for importing to PCalc on other devices or simply synced across multiple devices automatically using iCloud.

PCalc 2.6 also brings over all of the functions from the Mac OS X version, including Complex Numbers and Financial categories, accessible using a new f(x) button. Additional enhancements include the ability to show up to eight lines on the display, a new density section for conversions and general user interface improvements. PCalc is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $10. A free Lite version is also available that provides a more basic set of features, allowing users to customize the app by purchasing the specific feature packs they need via in-app purchase; PCalc Lite has also received the same updates for those users of the relevant feature packs.

Happy 4th of July, U.S. Readers!

Happy Fourth of July, U.S. readers! As iLounge’s U.S.-based editors are celebrating today’s Independence Day holiday, iLounge is publishing today on a limited schedule. We will return to our regular publishing schedule tomorrow. In the meantime, be sure to enter our new Odoyo 100 Cases and iBattz Mojo Armor Battery Case Giveaways, and enjoy the holiday!

Google Places is now Google+ Local

Google has released an update to its iOS app formerly known as Google Places, renaming it to Google+ Local and adding integration with Google+ for reviews along with Zagat summaries. Google+ Local also adds the ability to search using Voice Search along with an improved UI for searching for places that aren’t nearby. OAuth2 is also now used for authentication for improved security and the update includes several bug fixes. Google+ Local is available from the App Store as a free download.

Google releases Google Drive for IOS

Google has released a universal iOS client for its Google Drive service. Introduced earlier this spring, Google Drive is an evolution of Google Docs into a full cloud-based file storage and sharing platform. The new iOS app allows users to access their Google Drive online storage allowing viewing PDFs, photos, videos, and documents while on the go; files can also be opened in other iOS apps supporting the “Open in” feature. Users can also search for files, add collaborators to documents and sync files for offline use when no network connection is available. Note that this initial release of Google Drive for iOS does not currently support editing files directly within the app, real-time collaboration, creating new items, or moving items between folders or into the trash, although the company notes that it is continuing to develop the app. Google Drive is a universal app, requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple opens iCloud Beta to developers

Apple has officially opened its iCloud Beta portal to developers enrolled in the iOS 6 beta. MacRumors reports that the site, which is located at beta.icloud.com and was spotted briefly in early May,  offers previews of new Calendar functionality, as well as a redesigned Find My iPhone web app, and all-new Notes and Reminders apps. The new apps most mirror the functionality of their iOS counterparts, with the new Find My iPhone tool adding a battery status icon and support for the upcoming “Lost Mode.” The new iCloud web app suite is expected to see a public rollout alongside the release of iOS 6 this fall.

Apple adding ‘Food & Drink’ category to App Store

Apple will soon be adding a “Food & Drink” category to its App Store listings. MacStories reports that the company has started to send out emails to select developers informing them of the change. According to the email, the new category will include “apps that help users cook and bake, mix drinks, manage recipes, find new restaurants and bars, and learn what their friends like to eat and drink”, but will exclude “diet, grocery shopping, coupon-clipping, or food-related game apps.” The new category is expected to come online “in the next few weeks.”

Apple to announce Q3 2012 earnings on July 24

Apple has announced that it will report its financial results for the third fiscal quarter of 2012 on Tuesday, June 24. The release will be followed by the usual conference call to discuss the financial results, which will begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. iLounge will be providing coverage of the call. The call will likely discuss full-quarter sales of the third-generation iPad and third-generation Apple TV, early sales of Apple’s new MacBook lineup, and could possibly offer insight into Apple’s product plans for the rest of the year.

Navigon adds Google Street View

Navigon has released an update to its universal iOS navigation apps adding integrated support for Google Street view, custom routing and a new optional ‘Cockpit’ heads-up display feature. When planning a route with Navigon 2.1, users can now be shown a street-level view of their destination when starting a route, helping them to identify the specific location they should be looking for upon arrivel. The Google Street view integration provides an initial snapshot of the area that users can then expand to a full screen 360-degree view of the destination’s surrounding area; the Google Street view preview will also appear automatically shortly before arriving at the destination.

A new Navigon Cockpit feature has also been added as an optional $3 in-app purchase, allowing users to display relevant, real-time driving data on screen to see a snapshot of their driving habits. Data includes gForce, speed, horizontal and vertical position and an adjustable speed and altitude graph as well as a separate screen with compass and altitude information designed for off-road driving. The new version also adds support for manual route blocking to help users more effectively set their own custom routes. Users can view their route on a map and block certain sections simply by tapping on them, prompting the app to automatically calculate an alternative route to avoid the selected areas. Users can access the manual route blocking both when planning a route as well as during navigation.

Additional enhancements include Retina Display graphics for the third-generation iPad, an optimized map manager interface for downloading and deleting maps and improvements to start-up time and map rendering performance.  The Navigon apps are available from the App Store in a variety of regional versions, including Navigon North America ($40), Navigon USA ($30), Navigon Canada ($35) and Navigon Europe ($85); a full list can be found on the Navigon AG App Store page. The North American Navigon apps and related in-app purchases are available at reduced pricing until July 16, 2012.

ComScore: Apple increases smartphone market share

Apple increased its share of both the U.S. smartphone platform and overall U.S. cellphone markets in the three months ending in May, according to the latest data from comScore. Apple was the third-largest cell phone manufacturer during the period, capturing 15 percent of the market—up 1.5 points from February—and trailing only Samsung with 25.7 percent and LG, which accounted for 19.1 percent of the market. Motorola and HTC rounded out the top five. Apple also increased its smartphone platform market share, accounting for 31.9 percent of the market—from 30.2 percent in February—and trailing only Google, which accounted for 50.9 percent. Apple was trailed by RIM, which fell to 11.4 percent, Microsoft, which accounted to four percent, and Symbian, which accounted for 1.1 percent of the market.

Apple granted sales ban on Galaxy Nexus

Apple has been granted a request for a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone. Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled in Apple’s favor for the second time in recent days, as she also approved a pre-trial ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. “Apple has made a clear showing that, in the absence of a preliminary injunction, it is likely to lose substantial market share in the smartphone market and to lose substantial downstream sales of future smartphone purchases and tag-along products,” Judge Koh said her ruling. As a condition of the injunction, Apple was ordered to post a bond of more than $95 million to secure payment of damages suffered by Samsung should Apple lose the actual trial.

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