Zynga has released the sequel to its once insanely popular game Draw Something in two incarnations: Draw Something 2 ($3) and Draw Something 2 Free. Both games feature dozens of new tools, patterns, stamps, and colors for drawing. Also featured are new words, new play modes, and a feed that shares drawings with all of your friends. The premium version also includes a free Sparkle Pen, no ads between turns, a free star and coin bonus, and thousands of extra new words.
Already beloved for its interactive iOS storybooks, Nosy Crow has hit another home run with the release of Little Red Riding Hood by Nosy Crow ($5), a lightly modernized take on the classic fable. As would be expected from this story, Little Red Riding Hood embarks on a walk through the forest to carry a basket of food to her ailing grandmother, but Nosy Crow adds several branching paths to the forest, enabling kids to choose additional items that will help Red defeat the big, bad wolf at her grandmother’s home—plus multiple endings. Beyond the fun of collecting these items in various mini games, the developer has populated the app with zoomable high-definition artwork, plenty of voice narration, and intuitively interactive elements that really bring the story’s scenes to life. This is certainly Nosy Crow’s best storybook yet, which says a lot given that it has previously released some of the very best iOS kids apps we’ve tested. Fans of the story should grab this one without thinking twice; it’s that impressive.
Apple’s original iPhone, released in 2007, will soon enter “obsolete” status in Apple Retail Stores, according to an internal document. The switch will occur on June 11. Obsolete status means the original iPhone will no longer be supported at bricks and mortar Apple locations, though AppleCare and Authorized Service Providers will treat the device as “vintage” and continue to provide service for it. [via 9to5Mac]
Following a recent report about iOS 7’s interface, 9to5Mac has more information on Apple’s plans for the new operating system, reporting that “Apple plans to move aggressively into the in-car integration space later this year.” Multiple sources noted Apple is “working with car makers to deeply embed iOS’s Maps and Siri services into cars.” The company is reportedly working with car makers on center consoles that could attach iOS devices — at that point, an optimized version of Apple’s Maps could then appear on the car’s display, with Siri used to control Maps and other features. It’s noted that the new functionality could still be a long way from public release, and the feature may require newer iOS devices.
Apple has quietly crept further into the automotive world recently. Volkswagen introduced the iBeetle, a special edition Beetle with iPhone integration — though the integration is not nearly as deep as the proposals reported with iOS 7. Touted as an iOS 6 feature, Apple’s Siri Eyes Free feature was first integrated by GM, followed by Honda and Acura, with BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, and Chrysler also announced as partners. Apple and Ferrari have apparently discussed a deeper partnership, and Ferrari’s FF model integrates Siri voice commands, using iPad minis for rear seat entertainment. Also, Apple recently filed two patents related to communication between iOS devices and vehicles.
An recently published Apple patent demonstrates that Apple has continued to contemplate the use of a physical controller accessory with iOS devices. However, the patent filing appears to be mainly concerned about how users with disabilities can interact with touchscreen devices.
A controller could offer advantages to users who aren’t “physically present” at the touchscreen, users who “are unable to provide touch input,” and those with disabilities who could nonetheless use a physical accessory to control the touchscreen. Apple’s image of a controller accessory resembles a joystick, though gaming doesn’t appear to be the focus of the patent; the basic patent concepts could be applied for other purposes. [via Apple Insider]
Sources claim the look of Apple’s upcoming iOS 7 will be simpler than past incarnations, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. “Multiple people who have either seen or have been briefed on the upcoming iOS 7” claim the new operating system will be attractive to new users, but “potentially unsettling” for long-time iOS users. The interface is “very, very flat,” one source says, while another says it loses “all signs of gloss, shine, and skeumorphism” (sp). Immediately after the departure of former Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall, speculation has been that Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive’s work on the new OS would move away from skeuomorphism, which Forstall and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs both favored.
One source compared iOS 7 to the Windows Phone UI. Reportedly, there is no new learning curve for the new operating system, as the “core apps and system fundamentals” operate similarly to the current iOS. Interface changes allegedly include a new icon set for native apps, newly designed tool bars, and tab bars. Apple has also apparently been researching ways to add more quick glance panels, such as Notification Center, into the new software. One idea included swipes from the left and right of the display. Sources note iOS 7 is codenamed “Innsbruck,” likely after the Austrian city.
A new update to the Google Search app for iOS features Google Now, Google’s personal assistant. Google Now offers weather and traffic conditions at the start of the day, as well as updates on favorite sports teams and breaking news. Google Now uses more than 25 different “cards,” including cards for boarding passes, restaurant reservations, flight information, and more.
Google’s Eric Schmidt alluded to Google Now awaiting Apple approval in March. Apple responded, saying Google Now wasn’t submitted to its App Store; as it turns out, it was instead debuted within an existing app. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has announced that it will be “hitting the road this fall” with Tech Talks for developers. Though Apple says the talks will be coming to “a city near you,” no cities have been announced so far. The company notably held an iPhone Tech Talk World Tour in late 2008, and has used multi-city events to reach out to developers who couldn’t attend its California developers’ conferences. Apple also noted WWDC 2013 sold out of tickets in record time, and reminded developers that videos of the sessions would be posted during the conference.
A peculiar iMessage bug is making certain words disappear from the end of messages. The phrases “I could be the next Obama” and “The best prize is a surprise,” when followed by a trailing space, are sent with the last word deleted; both sender and receiver see a blank space instead. It appears the bug is only affecting iPhones, according to an Apple forum discussion; other phrases also seem to trigger the bug. Apple has not commented on the bug yet. [via The Verge]
Apple has added a new section to the App Store to help consumers “Learn More About In-App Purchases.” The informational section describes what in-app purchases are, the different types of in-app purchases, how in-app purchases work, and how to restrict a child’s ability to make in-app purchases using parental controls. In the wake of legal issues and other complaints regarding these follow-on purchases, Apple is making more of an effort to inform consumers about in-app purchases — the company recently added an “Offers In-App Purchases” line to all relevant apps.
Apple has backtracked on a prior decision to change the way VPN On Demand connects in iOS. An updated support article notes that “Apple no longer plans to change the behavior of the VPN On Demand feature of iOS 6.1 for devices that have already been shipped. The ‘Always’ option will continue to work as it currently does on these devices.” Previously, Apple announced VPN On Demand configured to “always” would behave as “establish if needed.”
The initial change was made due to a patent suit loss to VirnetX; there’s speculation that because of Apple’s reversal on the VPN issue, the two companies have reached some kind of agreement. Notably, because Apple only mentions devices that have “already been shipped,” the changes still might be made to as-yet-unshipped items. [via MacRumors]
Though a minor update for some users, Apple’s Apple Store app (free) has been updated to version 2.6 — the app now lets users receive notifications noting when they’re eligible for upgrade pricing on a new iPhone.
Sega’s unpredictable history of iOS releases continued this week with the release of House of the Dead: Overkill - The Lost Reels ($5), a visually unimpressive yet semi-engaging zombie shooting game with grindhouse-inspired interface and audio elements. Like virtually all of the prior House of the Dead games, you’re in an on-rails first-person perspective shooting at zombie attackers — here called “mutants,” and with a drag-based on screen reticule rather than just pointing and tapping, increasing the challenge level. Two of the game’s three worlds are unlocked for the $5 asking price, while a third world requires a $2 purchase, and as is sadly now the norm, additional weapons are sold as in-app purchases if you don’t want to spend the time earning them. Overkill’s language is unusually raw, so kids shouldn’t download it; more importantly, due to Sega’s use of relatively low polygon counts for device compatibility, the in-game graphics are merely competent rather than scary. Fans of the series will find this title to be far less stylish and energetic than the best House of the Dead titles, but it’s something to play at a relatively affordable price.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has ordered T-Mobile to change “deceptive advertising” that promised no contracts for customers, notably coinciding with the carrier’s long-awaited announcement of iPhone availability. The Attorney General’s Office said the company “failed to disclose that customers who purchase a phone using the 24-month payment must carry a wireless service agreement with T-Mobile for the entire 24 months — or pay the full balance owed on phone if they cancel earlier.” Customers who cancel the service “face an unanticipated balloon payment” for the phone, which the office notes is often higher than termination fees for other carriers.
T-Mobile has agreed to stop misrepresenting the lack of restrictions, and will disclose that customers who terminate service before a device is paid off will have to pay the full balance upon cancellation. All consumers who purchased T-Mobile service or equipment between March 26 and April 25 can obtain a full refund for the purchased device and cancel service plans without paying the remaining balance owed on devices. Although T-Mobile is obligated to contact customers about their rights, consumers can call T-Mobile at 1-877-746-0909 for more information — or dial 611 from a T-Mobile phone. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple recently filed two patents that feature portable devices communicating with vehicles through Bluetooth. The first patent, titled “Method for locating a vehicle,” would let iOS device users locating their vehicle using wireless connections. More specifically, this system would let a device like an iPhone communicate with a system set up within a parking garage to find a car. Considering the lack of signal in many parking garages, this system would conceivably be a solution for finding one’s car in such a situation — however, it would require a system investment from the parking garage.
The other patent, titled “Accessing a vehicle using portable devices,” would let a device access a vehicle to perform a number of functions wirelessly. This patent could enable an iOS device to function as a smart key, but it could also go deeper, by “limiting a time period during which the vehicle can be accessed,” or even “limiting a speed of the vehicle to an upper limit.” Though apps such as Hyundai Blue Link already exist that can perform some of the functions included in both of these patents, Apple’s filings go deeper and further to open up new widespread possibilities between computing devices and vehicles. [via Apple Insider]
Apple has been ordered to pay three Chinese writers a total exceeding $118,000 for infringing their copyrights. The writers, including a popular author Mai Jia, discovered that their books were being sold in the App Store without their permission. While Judge Feng Gang said Apple has a duty to determine if books uploaded by third-party vendors violate authors’ copyrights, some experts are skeptical and believe that unauthorized uploads will continue. Apple was also fined in December for selling unlicensed e-books. [via China Daily]
With almost 1300 votes from iLounge readers, our latest recent poll—“How should iOS 7 look?”—has now ended. Following rumours about the work being done by Jony Ive on polishing iOS 7, we asked readers to let us know what they should think the next major iOS release should look like.
Responses were somewhat evenly split between the three options, with forty-three percent of respondents indicating that they wanted to a see more exciting and eye-popping design while thirty-four percent said they preferred a simpler and flatter design throughout the entire UI. The remaining twenty-five percent indicated they were fine with the current UI design, and simply want to see new features in the next major update.
The cases feature an interior rubber layer and exterior hard shell. A self-adhesive screen protector and bubble squeegee are included. Otterbox’s Commuter Series 3D Case is available now.
Apple’s iTunes store is now featuring “A Decade of iTunes,” an interactive timeline celebrating the past 10 years of iTunes. The 10th anniversary of the iTunes Store is this Sunday, April 28. The timeline lets users view the top selling songs and albums each year from 2003 onward and lists a number of Apple and iTunes milestones along the way.
Apple has announced it will hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference from June 10-14 at Moscone West in San Francisco. The company’s release notes that developers will “learn about the future of iOS and OS X.” More than 100 technical sessions will be presented by more than 1,000 Apple engineers. Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. tomorrow — the first time tickets have been announced before going on sale. And as 9to5Mac notes, Apple will be posting developer session videos during the conference this year.
“We look forward to gathering at WWDC 2013 with the incredible community of iOS and OS X developers,” Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller said in a release. “Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we’re excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps. We can’t wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC.”
Update: Apple sold out of its ticket allotment for WWDC 2013 in less than two minutes.
As Apple’s second-quarter 2013 financial results conference call began, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced first half revenue of more than $98 billion, and net income of more than $22 billion, including sales of 85 million iPhones and iPads. He acknowledged Apple’s growth rate has slowed from a high level. Cook mentioned “the potential of exciting new product categories” when looking at the future of Apple. He also mentioned “amazing new hardware that we can’t wait to introduce” in the fall.
Cook said Apple remains committed to make attractive returns to shareholders, as the company has more than doubled the size of the capital return program to a total of $100 billion by the end of 2015. The company also approved a 15 percent increase in the stock dividend.
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer mentioned new March records for iPhone and iPad sales and detailed the numbers. iPad sales doubled in greater China and Japan. The “overwhelming majority” of iPad mini users are first-time iPad customers, Oppenheimer said. He also touched on the iPad’s spread into emerging markets. iPad accounted for 82 percent of all North American tablet web traffic in March, he said.
Oppenheimer mentioned iPods, but while listing the device’s dropping sales numbers, he focused on the iPod market share among MP3 players.
As for iTunes sales, Oppenheimer reports more than $4 billion in combined revenue from iTunes, software and services. Also, he said that in total, app developers have made more than $9 billion from their sales through the App Store. Also, iCloud now has 300 million daily users. “We will continue to invest in the ecosystem,” Oppenheimer said, with more features “in the pipeline.”
Oppenheimer spent some time detailing Apple’s stock buyback and dividend increase.
In the Q&A, Cook was asked if Apple was “hitting a wall” in China. “We actually had our best quarter ever in greater China,” Cook said, with revenue of $8.8 billion. Notably, iPads grew 138 percent year-over-year in China. “Going forward we still see a significant opportunity in China,” Cook said. “China has an unusually large number of potential first-time smartphone buyers, and that’s not lost on us.”
As for Cook’s allusion to fall announcements of products and whether or not that means there will be no new Apple products until the fall, Cook said, “I don’t want to be more specific…I’m just saying we’ve got some really great stuff coming in the fall and all of 2014.”
Cook touched on how the iPhone 4 was now even more affordable and attractive to first-time buyers, which allows more people to get into “the ecosystem with a really, really phenomenal product.”
Apple doesn’t want to forecast gross margin beyond June, Oppenheimer said. Apple is “willing to trade off short-term profits for long-term potential.” He mentioned how the iPod inspired the iPhone, and how the iPad mini was a “great strategic decision.”
Cook was questioned on if his views changed regarding the 5” phone market. “My view continues to be that iPhone 5 has the absolute best display in the industry,” Cook said. “Some customers value large screen size, others also value other factors.” He talked about battery life, resolution, and portability in a display. He concluded, “We would not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade-offs exist.”
When talking about the Mac market, Cook mentioned the high iPad sales numbers. “It’s certainly true that some of those iPads cannibalized some Macs. I don’t think it’s a huge number, but I think it’s some,” he said.
Alongside its quarterly earnings results, Apple today increased both its stock repurchase authorization and quarterly dividend, by a total of $55 billion from the original amount announced last year. The repurchase authorization has been increased to $60 billion from $10 billion. It’s “the largest single share repurchase authorization in history,” and is expected to be executed by the end of calendar 2015. Apple’s board approved a 15% increase in the stock dividend putting it at $3.05 per common share, payable on March 16, 2013. “We are very fortunate to be in a position to more than double the size of the capital return program we announced last year,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We believe so strongly that repurchasing our shares represents an attractive use of our capital that we have dedicated the vast majority of the increase in our capital return program to share repurchases.” CFO Peter Oppenheimer said “We will continue to return capital to shareholders through dividends, share repurchases, and cash used to net-share-settle vesting RSUs. We continue to generate cash in excess of our needs to operate the business, invest in our future, and maintain flexibility to take advantage of strategic opportunities.”