BlackBerry’s recently announced iOS app for its BBM messaging service is expected to launch this summer, but it apparently won’t be coming to iPad right away. According to a report, Vivek Bhardwaj, head of software portfolio at BlackBerry, said BBM will be coming to “iOS phones running iOS 6 and higher.” Bhardwaj said smartphone is the company’s “real focus” for BBM. “When you start looking at tablets, computers and other screens, the usage model changes and behaviour changes. For us right now the absolute focus is getting BBM onto smartphones,” he said. [via Trusted Reviews]
Apple’s continuing negotiations with record labels could prevent the company from debuting its streaming music service by its Worldwide Developers Conference next month, according to a new report. Sony still hasn’t agreed to royalty terms with Apple, and BMG Rights Management, the fourth-largest music publisher, is also said to be holding out. But Universal Music Group, among other industry heavyweights, would like to see iRadio launch “as soon as possible.”
The article also notes how Google beat Apple to a steaming music service with the launch of Google Play Music All Access. While Google’s service is more of a standard subscription service similar to existing services, Apple is building a hybrid service — streaming with on-demand features. “Of course [Apple’s] negotiations were going to take longer,” a source said. Apple’s reluctance to pay advances has also reportedly played a role in slowing the pace of negotiations. [via The Verge]
The Fair Labor Association has released a report acknowledging that Foxconn and Apple are making progress on improving work conditions, but the companies are still exceeding working-hour laws. Apple and Foxconn have agreed to comply with Chinese working-hour law by July — under the law, workers may work 40 hours per week and work 36 hours of overtime per month — but the report finds workers at three facilities have worked between 40 and 60 hours every week. The findings were based on observations and interviews at the facilities. Those same three Foxconn facilities have met more than 98 percent of the action items agreed upon by Foxconn and Apple, the FLA reports. The FLA report also notes “Progress has been made with respect to election of worker representatives to unions.” [via The Wall Street Journal]
CW announced its TV Now app will be coming to Apple TV. Much like the Xbox and mobile TV Now apps, the Apple TV app will offer full episodes of ad-supported CW shows the day after airing.
No cable authentication will be required to watch the shows. TV Now will be the first network television app on Apple TV — it’s reportedly set to launch sometime “in the coming weeks.” [via Deadline, MacRumors]
Moshi has released its USB Cable with Lightning Connector ($20). While it’s not terribly different in price or size from Apple’s official Lightning to USB Cable, this one-meter Lightning cable uses fancy aluminum plug jackets rather than the plastic ones favored by Apple.
Moshi’s USB Cable with Lightning Connector comes in black or white. Teased by the company at CES earlier this year, it is available now.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has spoken out on the company’s tax practices prior to his scheduled testimony at a Senate hearing next Tuesday. Under pressure over Apple keeping more than $100 billion overseas, Cook told Politico that the company has acted legally. “I can tell you unequivocally Apple does not funnel its domestic profits overseas,” said Cook, “We don’t do that. We pay taxes on all the products we sell in the U.S., and we pay every dollar that we owe. And so I’d like to be really clear on that.” Like many companies, Apple allegedly keeps money overseas to avoid paying high U.S. taxes. Cook noted that Apple is one of the largest U.S. taxpayers — the company paid almost $6 billion in taxes in the 2012 fiscal year. Interestingly, it’s expected that Cook will share Apple’s ideas for comprehensive tax reform at Tuesday’s testimony. [via Politico]
Following an announcement earlier this year, iLuv has released Aud 5 ($150), a Lightning speaker dock for iPhone 5. Aud 5 features both full-range speakers and a passive radiator for bass. An iPhone 5 can be charged while docked in the center of the speaker on a pivoting Lightning connector.
iLuv’s Aud 5 also features a 3.5mm auxiliary input for backward compatibility. It’s available now.
Each time there’s a new version of Can Knockdown, we stand up and take notice. On the surface, the universal iOS release Can Knockdown 3 ($2) is the type of super-simple game that once dominated the App Store—flick to toss balls at cans, knocking them over. Yet developer Infinite Dreams keeps raising the bar with each iteration, this time improving the realtime 3-D graphics to virtually photorealistic levels on Retina iPads, and adding puzzles to the 100 included levels. While the music is only alright, the sound effects, controls, and graphics otherwise work really nicely together, and the levels continue to evolve in challenge as you continue playing. Currently on sale for only $1, this should be a no-brainer download if you’re looking for something fun to occupy your spare time.
eBay has updated its free iOS apps for both the iPhone and iPad, bumping them to versions 3.0.0 and 2.3.0, respectively. The iPhone app has been redesigned, including larger photos for users of iOS 6 and beyond. Most notably, the app allows users of some US states to scan in their drivers licenses for fast and easy eBay registration. Last minute bidding has also been improved, and the new eBay Shopping Cart lets users check out multiple items at once. The updated iPad app makes a number of changes as well, including improved photos and easier browsing.
Apple has released iTunes 11.0.3, adding a new MiniPlayer, improved Songs view, and support for multi-disc albums. A greater emphasis has been put on allowing users to showcase album artwork in the redesigned MiniPlayer and Songs view, and the MiniPlayer now includes a built-in progress bar.
In addition, users with multiple disc albums can now have them appear as a single album. Apple also notes that the update provides performance improvements for working with large iTunes libraries.
A newly published Apple patent application reveals a system whereby one iOS device could control the flashes on other devices to better light a scene for photos. The method would allow an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to use the flashes on multiple other iPhones, for instance, by initiating a master-slave connection. A signal can be sent from the primary device to the secondary devices to adjust timing, intensity, duration, or flash angle.
As described in the filing, instructions sent from the primary device could be displayed as text on the secondary device’s screen. The devices could also be paired using Bluetooth to trigger the flash at the right time. [via Apple Insider]
Swedish headphone maker Jays has announced its new a-Jays Five ($100) earphones. The in-ear earphones feature a custom driver and flat, tangle-free cables. A redesigned three-button remote is thinner than previous Jays remotes, and the microphone with built-in echo cancellation won’t degrade over time, according to the company.
Offered in black or white, a-Jays Five will come with five different sizes of silicone tips, a cable clip, and a carrying case. No current release date is listed, but the earphones are “coming soon,” according to Jays’ website.
IK Multimedia has announced iKlip 2 ($40), a universal microphone stand adapter for iPad or iPad mini. An updated version of the iKlip Microphone Stand Adapter, iKlip 2 attaches to a microphone stand and holds an iPad or iPad mini, depending on which version of the adapter a user purchases. The new adapter lets a user view an iPad or iPad mini from a wider number of angles thanks to a rear ball joint, and it can now be attached to thicker mic stand poles measuring up to 1.2” in diameter.
IK Multimedia also announced the iKlip Studio for iPad mini ($30). A desktop stand, the iKlip Studio for iPad mini is a smaller version of the existing iKlip Studio, designed for 7”-8” tablets. Both products are available now.
Apple’s App Store today reached 50 billion downloads, as noted by the end of the official countdown. As the site says, “The grand prize winner will be announced soon. Stay tuned.”
The person who downloaded the 50 billionth app will win a $10,000 App Store Gift Card. The next 50 people who downloaded an app after that will win a $500 App Store Gift Card.
Update: Apple announced the winner as Brandon Ashmore from Mentor, Ohio. The 50 billionth app downloaded was Say the Same Thing by Space Inch, LLC. Ashmore gets a $10,000 App Store Gift Card for his download.
Google made a number of iOS-related announcements today at its I/O Developers Conference, including several that have potentially far-reaching consequences for its iPhone and iPad applications. First, the company released its Hangouts app for iOS, a free messaging app that lets users share photos and make video calls across computers, phones, and tablets. Additionally, Google also demonstrated a redesigned version of Google Maps, which will feature enhanced navigation, a five-star rating system, a 3D view, cards, and more prominent Zagat reviews, among many updates. The latest update will come to iOS devices in the summer, and will also bring to the web version a considerably cleaner interface.
Additionally, Google announced a revamped version of Google+, which will look more like the Google+ iPad app and add considerable new features such as automatic photo synchronization and sorting; an enhanced Google Now voice search for desktop computers that hints more Siri-like functionality will come to its iOS Google app; and Google Play Music All Access, an unlimited streaming music service. All Access will compete with Pandora, Spotify and other subscription services, as it beats Apple’s rumored iRadio service to market, offering users access to millions of tracks from various recording labels. Users who sign up for a 30-day trial by June 30 will pay $8 a month. After that, users can sign up for $10 a month.
Mophie has released Juice Pack Plus ($120) for iPhone 5, the company’s third battery case for iPhone 5, following Juice Pack Helium and Air. While falling behind top rivals in capacity, Juice Pack Plus has become the family’s most powerful battery case, featuring a 2100mAh battery that claims to offer 120 percent of extra battery life. According to Mophie, Plus will deliver up to 10 additional hours of 3G talk time, up to 12 additional hours of Internet use on Wi-Fi and 10 hours on 3G, up to 50 additional hours of audio playback, and 12 hours of video playback.
Juice Pack Plus enables Lightning pass-through charging through the included micro-USB cable, and comes in black, white, and red versions. The black case is available now, with both the white and red versions shipping by the end of May.
Although the Federal Communications Commission has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to allow more in-flight device use, a new report suggests that pilot reports and scientific studies suspect that passenger electronics are interfering with aviation equipment. More than a decade of reports show “dozens” of cases where electronics were suspected of interference. One anecdote in the report tells of an iPhone being switched off, which coincided with the solution of a compass problem. While the airline industry is noted to be divided in changing the current guidelines for in-flight device use, the FAA will hear recommendations from its own advisory committee on the subject, likely in July. [via Bloomberg]
Newer Technology has introduced the GripBase Podium ($45) for the iPad and iPad mini. A floor stand podium, GripBase Podium extends from a 38-inch height to nearly five feet, enabling users to view and interact with an elevated iPad or iPad mini.
The podium twists and swivels to view from any angle, while a heavy-duty, plastic-coated 12.55 pound base anchors the podium. An included GripStand case fits the second-, third-, or fourth-generation iPad; iPad mini users will need to separately purchase a GripStand case specific to their devices. GripBase Podium is available now.
Geneva has announced its Model S Wireless ($300), an updated version of the company’s Model S speaker. The new Model S Wireless removes the 30-pin dock from the top of the speaker, replacing the Apple-specific connector with more broadly compatible Bluetooth streaming capability. It features two full-range 3” drivers, a digital FM radio and digital clock.
Geneva’s Sound System Model S Wireless comes in white, black, or red, each including a metal table stand. It is available now, and the prior Model S has dropped in price, apparently on its way to discontinuation.
In response to a U.S. Justice Department court filing alleging that Apple engaged in a price-fixing scheme with book publishers, Apple claims that it acted legally, and negotiated different agreements with the publishing companies. A filing from Apple says that the publishers decided on their own to eliminate wholesale e-book discounts and take other steps in an attempt to get Amazon to raise its prices. Additionally, Apple’s filing describes tough negotiations with the publishers. “Apple did not conspire to fix eBook pricing,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said in an email.
The DOJ, however, cites statements former Apple CEO Steve Jobs made as evidence of conspiracy — the evidence includes an email sent to the CEO of a publisher’s parent company and a statement made to Jobs’ biographer. Apple remains the only entity in the suit that has not settled since the case started in April 2012 — all publishers involved have settled with the Justice Department. [via Reuters, Bloomberg]
A class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple for iPhone 4s with defective power buttons. Filed by a Florida woman, the suit claims Apple knew about a flex cable defect controlling the power button but kept quiet about the problem to sell more phones. Apple discussion forums regarding the power button are cited as evidence. The lawsuit claims that the part often fails after the phone’s one-year warranty expires. [via GigaOM]