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Apple pushes for summer iRadio streaming launch

Apple is “pushing hard” for a summertime launch of its anticipated streaming music service, according to a new report. The company has allegedly made “significant progress” in talks with two of the top record labels: Universal and Warner. A source is claimed to have said, “iRadio is coming. There’s no doubt about it anymore.” Multiple reports have noted the service has been held up by Apple battling the labels over royalty rates; most recently, a report noted the company was offering labels a very low rate of 6 cents per 100 songs streamed. [via The Verge]

Report: Apple discusses game controller at GDC

Apple is preparing to launch its own dedicated game controller, according to a new report. Apple allegedly discussed plans for the controller in private meetings at the Game Developers Conference this week, and the company is “ensuring plenty of games will support the joypad at launch.” Little else is known about the rumored controller — its physical appearance and release date are unknown. Game developers have been waiting for years for an Apple-developed solution to appear, and the only known authorized third-party solution (Duo Games’ Duo Gamer) was locked out of supporting most third-party titles. Notably, the report comes from PocketGamer, which previously cited anonymous sources to claim that Apple would launch a $20 premium games section of the iOS App Store, which never materialized; as such, the claims should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Update: Often given Apple’s off-the-record responses to rumors, The Loop denies the report.

Report: In-app purchases generating record revenue

In-app purchases generated a record 76 percent of total App Store revenue in the U.S. in February, according to a report from Distimo, a company that tracks app performance and metrics. The new report tracks revenues generated through the App Store, so ad revenue is excluded. At least 90 percent of all Asian market revenue came from in-app purchases, Distimo claims. Despite this, freemium apps were found to generate the least amount of revenue per download — just 93 cents per download based on the top 250 apps in the U.S. App Store, which might suggest that developers are hurting themselves by giving away apps in hopes of subsequent purchases, apart from building larger user bases. Paid iPhone apps without in-app purchases generated an average of $2.25 per download, and paid apps with in-app purchases generate even more revenue. iPad paid apps average $4.04 in revenue per download.

Facebook announces Android event; new iPhone rival?

Facebook has sent out invites for a media event to “Come See Our New Home on Android” next Thursday, which appears to be the announcement of a Facebook-based Android phone co-developed with HTC. Though it’s unclear if the event will focus on the phone, reports suggest that Facebook has created a version of the Android operating system with deeper Facebook integration than before. Past reports have noted that Facebook has hired former a number of iOS designers and engineers, and Facebook notably also purchased Push Pop Press, a company started by former Apple employees. For possibly competitive reasons that were only speculated on before, Apple was slow at incorporating Facebook features into iOS and OS X — now, presumably, Facebook will be directly competing against the iPhone, while maintaining a number of popular apps on the platform. [via 9to5 Google]

Apps: Flipboard 2.0, Repulze 1.0.4, Scribblenauts 3.0 + Weather Channel 5.3

Flipboard Inc. has updated its free Flipboard app to version 2.0. The web article aggregator now lets users collect and save content into “magazines” that are public by default, but can be made private. A new bookmarklet makes it easier to add items to magazines from your browser, and sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks is now easier. Personalized recommendations are now available, and search — now in a more prominent position — has been improved.

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Repulze ($3), the futuristic racer from Pixelbite, has now been updated with additional features that bring it closer to Sony’s classic Wipeout series. Version 1.0.4, aka “Phase Three,” adds weapons and AI opponents to the game. New challenges, hovercrafts and tracks have also been added. At this point, the weapons are still pretty basic, and the stages don’t have quite the right balance of weapon-racing action, as Repulze continues to feel like a beta version of a finished game. But the graphics and speed continue to improve with every release, and if subsequent updates evolve the weapon systems further, Pixelbite might just have an excellent game on its hands.

Apple seeks wraparound display, ceramic housing patents

Two recently published Apple patent applications — one for an electronic device with wraparound display, another for a ceramic enclosure for a device — could offer insight into the company’s future devices. The first application involves a device that would include a flexible display enclosed within a transparent housing, enabling the display to have greater surface area. Within the application, it’s noted that there is “a need for an improved form factor for portable electronic devices which allows functionality to extend to more than one surface of the device. ” Such a display would require use of a detection system to identify how a user is interacting with the device, and could provide volume controls on one of the display’s sides, for example. The device’s AMOLED display could be unrolled into one continuous band, as illustrated.

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Another application focuses on techniques for fabricating a laminated ceramic housing around a device. The ceramic enclosure would be multi-layered for increased strength, yet it would remain lightweight. Such a ceramic housing could be a unibody design, like the iPhone 5. [via Apple Insider]

Apple: Original iPhone 5 partially works on T-Mobile network

Following up on the announcement that Apple will release a new version of the iPhone 5 to support T-Mobile’s network, the company has clarified that unlocked current-generation iPhone 5 models will work on T-Mobile’s network—partially. According to a report, the original iPhone 5 can connect to T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 21Mbps and LTE networks, but will not work on the company’s newer HSPA+ 42Mbps network. Due to cellular radio frequency differences that apparently vary from city to city, it’s impossible to know for certain what current iPhone 5 speeds will be like at a given location within T-Mobile’s network. This issue is being resolved with the new iPhone 5 model, increasing the chance new customers will be able to connect at better speeds. [via The Verge]

Developers: Third-party iCloud syncing is broken

iCloud is meant to “just work,” but a recent report from The Verge suggests that many third-party developers believe otherwise. A number of developers are cited, noting that Apple hasn’t improved the way iCloud syncs with databases, also known as Core Data. The issues have caused developers to write extra code and manually help users who seek a solution, while dealing with customer complaints and poor ratings. In many cases, data will stop syncing, no matter what efforts are made. “iCloud with Core Data is a developer’s worst nightmare,” a developer said. “It’s frustrating, maddening, and costs hundreds of support hours.” Reportedly, Apple hasn’t been helpful to developers experiencing issues, and though iOS 6 has improved matters, the article notes “the company has simply not expressed any desire to fix Core Data syncing.” Apple declined to comment on the story.

Apple facing Siri patent lawsuit in China

Apple is facing a lawsuit from a Shanghai company over an alleged patent infringement for use of Siri, according to a report. Shanghai Zhi Zhen Internet Technology Co Ltd is suing Apple, claiming Siri infringes on its patent for Xiaoi, a “chat robot system” — the patent went into effect in 2006, prior to Siri. Xiaoi has been used in many fields, including telecommunications and banking, Shanghai Zhi Zhen has claimed. A pre-hearing is being held today. Shanghai Zhi Zhen is not seeking compensation; the company has asked the court to confirm the patent right. Apple is asking that Xiaoi’s patent be invalidated. [via Shanghai Daily]

Apps: Caillou, Google Plus 4.3, Navigon 2.4 + Speedtest 3.0

Parents of young children have a love-hate affair with the Canadian kids’ cartoon Caillou, featuring a relatable four-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister Rosie. While Caillou cartoons nicely touch upon common childhood themes, including role-playing, exploration, and parent-child interactions, the title character whines and pouts frequently enough to teach impressionable kids bad behaviors. Fingerprint’s new Step-by-Story - Caillou’s Window ($1) thankfully does away with the whining, but isn’t going to win the series any new fans, either. It lets kids choose very short pre-built or built-it-yourself stories featuring Caillou characters, stringing together five or so concepts to form a complete (if not particularly compelling) “story” like this one: (1) Outside, it was fall, (2) when Daddy saw (3) Caillou skiing and (4) Sarah (5) on a shooting star. Each of these clauses adds a simple, lightly animated foreground object to a flat background image while Caillou’s theme song plays and a narrator slowly enunciates the clauses. That’s it — though the art is high-resolution, it’s flat, and there’s no additional interactivity. Kids who try the app may be interested at first, only to discover that little they do while watching the “story” has any impact on the screen. We’d suggest passing on this one.

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Google has introduced a number of new features to its Google Plus (free) social networking app. A new profile design is the first notable change users may see, along with a new notifications tray. Version 4.3.0 also includes new photo editing tools, such as filters, rotating and cropping. Users can also control the volume of posts from individual circles or communities and filter search results. There are also more community options — you can tell your friends about a community and reshare posts, along with displaying counts for unread messages and new moderation features in communities.

 

Apple modifying iPhone 5 for T-Mobile AWS support

Apple has confirmed that it will begin sell a new version of its A1428 iPhone 5 model in order to support additional Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bands for T-Mobile’s network, according to a report. Current iPhone 5 users will not be able to gain the new AWS support via any kind of software update; instead, Apple is updating the current A1428 model of the iPhone 5, and will begin to sell it on April 12, the same day the device comes to T-Mobile. Existing A1428 models will perform at lower speeds on T-Mobile’s network, and thus will be phased out in favor of the new AWS model. The updated iPhone 5 will continue to support AT&T’s LTE network, and likely gain support for low-cost WIND and Mobilicity carriers in Canada in the process. [via Engadget]

T-Mobile to sell $100 iPhone 5 on April 12 with HD voice, more

T-Mobile has announced it will sell the iPhone 5 starting on April 12, 2013. It will be the first U.S. carrier to offer nationwide support for HD Voice—for improved iPhone 5 phone call quality—and will offer a single budget-priced plan with tethering included, plus unlimited 4G data as an option. The company currently operates a 4G network in 229 “metropolitan areas,” with LTE support coming online today in seven cities (Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, California, and Washington, D.C.), and more to come throughout the year. T-Mobile claims that its 4G network includes support for HSPA+, which could enable extremely fast speeds even for users in areas without LTE coverage.

Qualifying customers will be able to purchase the phone for $100 down, plus monthly payments of $20 for two years; should you leave the network before then, you need only pay off the remaining cost of the phone, or trade it in for a fair market value credit. T-Mobile will offer the iPhone 5 with no annual service contract, unlimited talk, text, and web on 4G. The company’s Simple Choice Plan is $50 a month for unlimited talk, text, and 500MB of 4G data for web use. Customers can add 2GB of 4G data for an extra $10 per month, per line. An unlimited 4G data option is an additional $20 per month per line; with that plan, the data will be unlimited on the phone, but limited for tethering purposes. Unlike Verizon and Sprint, but like AT&T, T-Mobile’s network supports simultaneous phone calling and cellular data use.

T-Mobile will also make the iPhone 4S and 4 available in “select markets.” The iPhone 4S will be available for $70 down, plus $20 per month for 24 months. The iPhone 4 will require $15 down, and $15 per month for 24 months. An iPhone 5 notification page has been launched on the company’s web site in advance of the official release.

Griffin launches SeeSaw Tabletop Stand for iPad

Griffin has announced the SeeSaw Tabletop Stand ($35) for iPad. Compatible with the iPad 2 and third/fourth-generation iPads, the SeeSaw Tabletop Stand is a lightweight case with a built-in handle. Made of nonporous material, the stand can easily be moved from portrait to landscape orientation.

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The stand also features a stylus holder in the back, though a stylus is notably not included. Griffin also announced its No. 2 Pencil Stylus ($20), which fits in the SeeSaw Tabletop Stand. Both products are available now.

Logitech debuts Keyboard Folio for iPad, mini

Logitech has announced its Keyboard Folio ($100) and Keyboard Folio mini ($90) for the iPad and iPad mini, respectively. Both folio-style keyboard cases offer magnets for secure closure and use of the iPad’s sleep/wake function. The full-sized Keyboard Folio offers a Bluetooth keyboard with full-sized keys and iPad shortcuts — the Keyboard Folio mini looks to have a more condensed Bluetooth keyboard.

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Both keyboards claim up to three months of typing on a full charge, based on two hours of use each day. A USB cable charger can recharge the keyboard while it’s in use. The Keyboard Folio is currently offered in black, yellow, blue or pink, while the Keyboard Folio mini can be pre-ordered in dark or light blue. The Keyboard Folio will be available in April, while the Keyboard Folio mini should hit the market in May.

Apple offers free next day shipping for iPhone

Apple is now offering free next day shipping for all iPhone models in its U.S. online store—a promotion that can be seen on the iPhone’s purchase page. There is a limit of two iPhones per customer in the offer, and there is no indication of how long the promotion will last; it’s unclear as to whether this is largely to reduce iPhone inventory ahead of a mid-year refresh, or an ongoing change to improve iPhone access in areas without Apple Stores.

Apple acquires indoor GPS company WifiSLAM

Apple has acquired indoor GPS company WifiSLAM for around $20 million. WifiSLAM is a two-year-old startup that has developed ways for mobile apps to detect the location of a phone in a building with Wi-Fi. A brief description of the company notes applications including step-by-step indoor navigation, product-level retail customer management, and proximity-based social networking. The addition of the technology will theoretically help Apple compete with Google in mapping, as Google already offers a number of indoor maps. [via The Wall Street Journal]

iLounge releases iPad + mini Buyers’ Guide

iLounge’s 2013 iPad + iPad mini Buyers’ Guide is now available for download! The newest edition of our guide features everything you need to know about the iPad and iPad mini, including an extensive overview of the devices, top apps and games, and of course, our look at the best accessories available for the new iPads.

Additionally, the guide includes a photo gallery of our Best of Show Awards from the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show, and covers new iTunes and Apple TV updates, as well. As always, the iPad + iPad mini Buyers’ Guide is a free download. It is available in a single-page or twin-page “spread” format. Download your copy today!

iLounge Weekly coming Monday, giveaway update

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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In addition, remember to enter March uNu Enerpak Universal Battery Pack Giveaway. iLounge and Unu are giving away ten uNu Enerpak Tube Flashlight Universal Battery Packs. Simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page to enter; the giveaway will end on March 31, 2013 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Reported security hole allows Apple password reset

A new exploit has been discovered that allows anyone with both your email address and date of birth to reset your Apple password by pasting a modified URL on Apple’s iForgot page, according to a report. Further details about the issue were not provided for security reasons, but the hole was confirmed. Yesterday, Apple added an optional two-step verfication service; users of that service would not be susceptible to the security hole. [via The Verge]

Apple iWatch poll ends, iOS 7 design poll begins

With over 1200 votes from iLounge readers, our latest recent poll—“What feature would most compel you to buy an Apple iWatch?”—has now ended. With serious rumours of an Apple smart watch surfacing over the past few weeks, we asked readers to let us know what features they would find most compelling in an Apple-designed smart watch, or whether they were even interested in such a device at all.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents were generally uninterested in an Apple iWatch, split about evenly between not wanting a watch at all (19%) and not being interested specifically in a smart watch (20%). Of the respondents who would consider an iWatch, 18% were most interested in seeing notification display from their iOS devices, while 11% felt that the Apple industrial design would be compelling enough. Most of the remaining responses were split fairly evenly, with 10% looking for remote iOS device control, 9% for GPS and navigation features, and 7% for an ability to interact with Siri on their iOS devices. Lastly, 3% of readers indicated that standalone media playback would be a compelling feature, while another 3% suggested they’d want to see some other unspecified feature.

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