Apple is in talks to acquire The Fancy, a growing social commerce site, according to a new report. Business Insider claims that while it has learned that there have been talks between the two companies, there is no signed deal and no guarantee of one. It is unclear what price Apple proposed to pay, or how recently the talks took place, but the report claims—citing a source familiar with Apple’s acquisition strategy—that The Fancy is at a stage where Apple typically buys companies. The Fancy is similar to Pinterest in allowing its users to make lists of items they find interesting, but has also started linking users to transactions, taking a 10 percent cut of sales in the process. Notably, Apple CEO Tim Cook is a user, having opened his account after meeting The Fancy CEO Joe Einhorn at the Allen & Co. Sun Valley conference earlier this year. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are on the company’s board, along with LeRoy Kim of Allen & Co. and Boston Celtics owner James Pallotta; Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz are also investors.
Pictures showing purported next-generation iPhone parts have appeared online. Nowhereelse.fr reports (Translated Link) that the SIM card tray is designed to handle cards based on the new Nano SIM specification, which are smaller than the Micro SIM cards used in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPad. Also pictured are new Home buttons supposedly bound for the new handset; they are slightly smaller than the prior part, and appear to match a prior part leak from April of this year. Apple is expected to introduce the next-generation iPhone at a special media event on September 12. [via 9to5Mac]
iMobie has released its new PhoneClean device maintenance app for Windows. According to the company, PhoneClean helps to remove long-term caches, temp, and junk files from iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches without the need for jailbreaking. iMobile claims that PhoneClean can help users reclaim up to 40% of free space, and may also help improve device performance. PhoneClean requires Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8, and is available now as a free download.
The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.
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Also, be sure to enter our new iBattz Mojo Vogue Battery Case Giveaway. In our Giveaway of the Month for August, iLounge and iBattz are giving away 5 Mojo Vogue Battery Cases for iPhone 4/4S, bundled with Dedicated Battery Chargers. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on August 31, 2012 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Parrot has released an update to its FreeFlight app for the AR.Drone iOS-controlled Quadricopter introducing AR.Drone Academy, a new online component allowing users to track flight information, watch and share their videos and more. Users can create an online pilot profile from within the app and can then take advantage of a collection of new tracking, mapping and sharing features, including the ability to track flight data such as altitude, speed and duration of flights. Tracking data can be reviewed as graphics or text alongside playback of recorded in-flight video.
AR.Drone Academy also allows users to view their flights geolocated on a map from which they can browse flight locations, watch recorded videos and view pictures and flight data. A Hotspots feature also helps users find ideal places to fly as reported by other AR.Drone users along with tips on both ideal conditions and dangerous spots. Users can upload videos and pictures to the service for online access, backup and sharing via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Picasa. A social component within the AR.Drone Academy also allows users to mingle with other AR.Drone pilots to view their shared content and compare stats. FreeFlight is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and an AR.Drone and is available from the App Store as a free download. More information on the AR.Drone Academy can be found on Parrot’s web site at http://ardrone2.parrot.com/ar-drone-academy.
AT&T has plans to move to an iPad-based Point of Sale system over the next two years, according to a new report. Citing unnamed sources as well as an AT&T spokesperson, 9to5Mac reports that the new system, which is being tested in AT&T’s Chicago “concept store”, will give employees the ability to perform all functions currently handled on behind-the-counter PCs on the iPad. These will include upgrade checks, account research, and servicing as point-of-sale terminals. The report goes on to claim that stores will receive Wi-Fi base stations meant specifically for the iPad system, and that lockers will be added to the back of the store for storage of the devices. According to the report, AT&T plans to aggressively deploy the new system for a larger test in a number of markets by early next year.
A new video has emerged comparing a purported front panel from a next-generation iPhone to that of an iPhone 4S. The video, posted by parts company Etrade Supply and available for viewing in embedded form below, is accompanied by a blog entry that offers up several still comparison photos. Together, they show that the next-gen iPhone’s screen will indeed be roughly 4 inches in size. The next-gen panel is also shown to be thinner—0.91mm thick, compared to 1mm for the iPhone 4S—and more transparent. The ambient light sensor has been moved to the side of the earpiece on the new panel, and the Home button is 0.3mm smaller in diameter than on the iPhone 4S, which also features larger top and bottom bezels. Apple is expected to announce the next-generation iPhone at a special media event on September 12. [via MacRumors | iPhoneinCanada]
Firemonkeys, a new gaming subsidiary of Electronic Arts born from the merger of FireMint and IronMonkey, has announced the coming release of Real Racing 3, the third instalment in the popular iOS racing game series. Expected to arrive later this year, Real Racing 3 will feature an all-new series of licensed, real-world tracks along with detailed, photorealistic cars from manufacturers such as Porsche, Dodge and Audi. The new lineup of tracks will be the first time that real world tracks have appeared in the series and will include famous tracks such as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Indianapolis Motro Speedway and Silverstone. The new version will also feature a 22 car grid allowing players to challenge themselves against 21 other drivers in a single race.
Avid has released an update to Avid Studio, its pro-grade video editing app for iPad users, adding Retina Display optimized graphics along with several other minor improvements for stability and workflow. The latest update adds support for Handbrake-encoded videos, fixes issues with audio fade-in and aspect ratio in certain cases, adds alpha channel support for PNG images and addresses issues with situations where removed media is still being used in a project. Avid also indicates in the release notes that 1080p export is currently being worked on and will hopefully be appearing in a future update. Avid Studio 1.1.1 requires an iPad running iOS 5.1 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.
Rovio has released another update to Angry Birds, adding fifteen new tropical-themed levels along with a new set of power-ups. Continuing the beach vacation theme introduced in the last update, the newest version adds four new power-ups: King Sling, Birdquake, Super Seeds and Sling Scope to help players gain the elusive third star on even the most challenging levels. The game is available in two separate versions: Angry Birds ($1) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Angry Birds HD ($3) for the iPad.
Apple has updated its Apple Store app for the iPhone and iPod touch adding the ability for customers to have Pages, Keynote and Numbers pre-installed on any MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac or Mac Pro ordered from the Apple Store. Added to the Apple Store on the web earlier this week, the new option allows users to choose to bundle the purchase of any of the iWork apps with their new Mac, which will come already installed from the Mac App Store in the same way as the iLife apps—iPhoto, GarageBand and iMovie—presently do. The latest update to the Apple Store app also includes performance enhancements designed to improve the shopping experience. Apple Store 2.3 requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a Smart Cover for the iPad that offers more functionality than the current accessory. Notably, the patent outlines a flexible display embedded in the cover itself, receiving power and data via a connector on the side. According to the patent, the display may be touch-sensitive, or may have a portion of the cover flap dedicated to an eInk display, which would require no power to maintain state. As noted by Engadget, possible uses for such a display are space for extra icons, media controls, or as a notification display; an image accompanying the patent application also shows a portion of the cover’s interior being used as a keyboard, like Microsoft’s recently announced Surface tablet cover. As with all Apple patents, this application does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research and interest in this area.
According to the latest data from IDC, Apple’s iPad continues to lead the worldwide tablet market, and by a wider margin than just one year ago. IDC estimates that Apple’s second calendar-quarter shipments of 17 million iPads accounted for 68.2 percent of the worldwide tablet market, up from 61.5 percent in the second calendar quarter of 2011. While the tablet market as a whole grew at a year-over-year rate of 66.2 percent, Apple’s growth is pegged at 84.3 percent, bested only by Samsung, which holds a 9.6 percent share of the market thanks to 117.6 percent year-over-year growth, and ASUS, which saw its shipments grow 115.5 percent year-over-year, good for 3.4 percent of the market. Following Apple and coming in third between Samsung and ASUS was Amazon with 5 percent of the market; Acer rounds out the top five with 1.5 percent of the market.
Epic Games and Chair Entertainment have released another new content update for the critically acclaimed iOS game Infinity Blade II. The new content pack, dubbed Skycages, expands upon the storyline of the Deathless with new areas to explore and relics to discover along with new enemies, weapons and other items. The update also includes a completely new weapon type to master—the Solar Transport Energy Blades along with a collection of 30 new other weapons, magic rings, shields, helmets and armor. New Achievements have also been added, as well as new gems and treasure maps and exclusive ClashMob challenges. Infinity Blade II is a universal app requiring an iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad and is available from the App Store for $3.
Desk Pets has unveiled its new CarBot remote control car for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Android devices. The CarBot is controlled with a free app that communicates with the car via an include IR dongle that plugs into the device’s headphone jack. Four interactive modes are available: Drift ‘n’ Race for full-speed racing, Maze mode, Battle mode for multi-player, and Personality mode, in which the car speeds and spins while flashing lights and emitting sounds. In addition, the USB-rechargeable battery is good for 25 minutes of play time for every 40 minutes of charging. Desk Pets’ CarBot remote control car for iOS and Android is available now for $30.
The Nevada Board of Economic Development on Wednesday endorsed a deal negotiated by the state to help lure Apple to Reno with $89 million in tax breaks. The Associated Press (via the San Jose Mercury News) reports that the action was largely ceremonial, since the panel lacked the authority to change the agreement. Nevada Government Brian Sandoval called the deal a “win” for the state and said that Apple’s commitment will generate interest from other companies. The deal will see Apple build a 350-acre data center east of Sparks, NV, to house servers, as well as a purchasing and business center in a currently rundown area near downtown Reno.
During a press briefing following the release of its latest quarterly earnings report, Sharp claimed that it is slated to build display panels for the next-generation iPhone. “Shipments will start in August,” said Sharp’s new president Takashi Okuda. Okuda declined to give a more specific date for shipments; however, recent reports have suggested Apple will hold a media event on September 12 at which it will announce the next-generation iPhone, with a launch to follow on September 21. According to the report, both LG Display and Japan Display are also going to supply display panels for the handset.
Following dueling reports from earlier in the week indicating that Apple had met with Twitter reps about a strategic investment, a new report claims that talks between the two companies centered more on product integration ideas. Citing multiple people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the investment idea never progressed into serious discussion or negotiations, while the product integration deal came together very quickly. According to the report, which cites two people briefed on the matter, the two companies continue to talk about future product integrations, which may include more deeply melding Twitter and iTunes as Apple prepares to phase out Ping later this year. Apple added Twitter integration in iOS 5 last year, and in OS X Mountain Lion last month.
iDevices has announced that it is now shipping its iShower speaker for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other devices. First shown at the 2012 CES, the iShower is a Bluetooth-enabled, water-resistant speaker that’s designed to be used in the shower. Features include built-in play, pause, forward, rewind and volume buttons, a claimed 200 foot range, up to 15 hours of battery life from three AA batteries, a time display, tool-free installation, and the ability to pair with up to five devices at once. iDevices’ iShower is available now and sells for $100.
Amazon has released its new Amazon Instant Video app for the iPad. The app, which requires iOS 4.3 or later, allows users to watch movies and TV shows from Amazon’s streaming library. Amazon Prime members can watch titles from Prime Instant Video for no additional cost, while all users can watch over 120,000 videos available from the Amazon Instant Video store. Purchased and Rented videos can be downloaded to the device for offline video, and users can also add videos to their Watchlists and resume watching videos they have already started thanks to Amazon Whispersync. Amazon’s Instant Video app for the iPad is available now as a free download from the App Store.