ABC has relaunched its ABC Player app as Watch ABC, which now streams live programming in limited markets. Currently, live streaming of ABC programming is only available in the New York City and Philadelphia areas.
The app is currently available in an “open access” preview, but starting July 1, the app will request verification of an eligible TV provider to access live streaming video. Watch ABC will expand to other markets in the coming months, including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham, Fresno, Boston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Milwaukee.
1Password ($18), AgileBits’ password manager and secure wallet app, has been updated to version 4.2. The update includes a number of improvements to 1Browser, the app’s built-in web browser, including use of a strong password generator. It’s now possible to share items through Messages or email. Search has also been improved, with the ability to expand results across all fields. Results also show the primary URL of the term, as well.
Amazon Mobile has released Amazon Cloud Drive Photos (free), an app for storing photos in Amazon’s cloud. The app automatically saves photos taken while the app is running. Amazon offers 5GB of free storage to save about 2,000 photos. Users can buy up to 1TB of additional storage.
Blackberry has announced that its BBM messaging service will be released as a free iOS app this summer, complete with support for iOS 6 and above. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said the release of BBM on other platforms is a “statement of confidence,” and noted that the free app is expected to include messaging and groups at launch, with voice, screen share, and channels to be added later. As noted in a press release, BBM for iOS depends on Apple approval. [via The Verge]
In a quiet server-side update, Apple has given Siri the ability to respond to requests with quotes, notably to suggest that the user is being too long-winded. When asking the assistant a question — presumably one that Apple’s servers find too long or difficult to parse — Siri responds with William Strunk and Thomas Jefferson quotes alluding to brevity. Notably, the thirty-word Strunk quote itself takes several seconds for Siri to read aloud, and in one case was delivered in the middle of dictation.
The Strunk and Jefferson quotes appear to have been added to Siri over the last week and a half, and represent a new direction for Apple’s virtual assistant. Rather than just recognizing or failing to recognize a user’s natural speech, Siri now appears to be using quotations to change the user’s speaking patterns.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter today to Apple CEO Tim Cook — as well as the CEOs of Microsoft, Google, and Samsung — regarding the growing theft of electronic devices such as iPhones. Citing an increase in the theft of Apple products in New York City, Schneiderman argues that Apple and other companies need to do more to combat theft, a topic previously raised by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. As Schneiderman wrote to Cook, “In particular, I seek to understand why companies that can develop sophisticated handheld electronics, such as the products manufactured by Apple, cannot also create technology to render stolen devices inoperable and thereby eliminate the expanding black market on which they are sold. I would be especially concerned if device theft accrues to your company’s financial benefit through increased sales of replacement devices.”
Schneiderman also writes that though Apple presents itself as concerned about safety, “…Apple may have failed to live up to these representations, limiting its focus to information security, without providing safeguards that would truly deter theft and thereby protect the safety of your customers.” These crimes, sometimes referred to as “Apple picking,” have been getting more attention recently. San Francisco’s Gascón pushed for Apple to make a “kill switch” to render stolen phones inoperable, but met with resistance from the company’s representatives. As legal pressure mounts, Apple and other companies may be pushed toward a resolution on device thefts in the future.
Apple’s countdown to 50 billion App Store downloads is nearing its end. At the current download rate depicted by Apple’s web site counter, the 50 billionth app should be downloaded at some point in the next two days; however, it’s unclear how accurate the counter is, and whether the speed will accelerate as the milestone draws nearer.
The person who downloads the 50 billionth app will win a $10,000 App Store Gift Card, and the next 50 people to download an app will win a $500 App Store Gift Card.
T-Mobile’s carrier update to enable LTE has been “hacked” to increase “the amount of bandwidth allowing for better throughput of data and data connection” on the iPhone 5. Although Apple released an update that was supposed to improve speeds for users of unlocked iPhone 5s running on T-Mobile’s network, some users reported negative signal and speed changes following its installation. The increased speed update works on both versions of the iPhone 5, and no jailbreak is required to download the enhanced update. Instructions on how to install the update can be found within the initial report at TmoNews.
Apple informed staff at a recent town hall session that major changes would be coming to the AppleCare and AppleCare+ programs this fall, according to a report. Many of the changes will apparently focus on in-house repairs — instead of exchanging an iPhone, iPod, or iPad for a new device, Apple will repair the same device and return it to the customer. Apple Stores will reportedly have the ability to replace displays by June, and to repair cameras, sleep/wake buttons and logic boards by July. Advanced diagnostic tools to remotely assess hardware issues will also be available. It’s unclear whether this new system will lengthen initial turnaround times for customers, who were previously able to walk into Apple Stores and swap devices quickly, though repaired units might not require time-consuming content restoration.
AppleCare may introduce a new tier for consumers, instead of specific products, and offer in-store training for customers. There’s also a possibility that AppleCare will be reconfigured as a subscription model. Additionally, free support for the iPhone may jump from 90 days to one year without buying AppleCare. Apple Vice President Tara Burch announced the changes, which would come to the U.S., then the rest of the world, reportedly under the “One Apple” brand — though it’s unclear if “One Apple” is an internal or marketing term. [via Apple Insider]
Apple has created a waiting list to decrypt iPhones seized by police, due to high demand. A new report notes a case in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had to wait for Apple to assist in unlocking the device of a man accused of distributing crack cocaine. According to the search warrant affidavit of an ATF agent, numerous law enforcement agencies do not have “the forensic capability” of unlocking an iPhone. Reportedly, the agent was told there would be at least a seven-week delay to unlock the phone, but the process apparently took at least four months. [via CNET]
Windows 8 “Metro” users shouldn’t get their hopes up regarding an iTunes app on their operating system, according to a new report. “You shouldn’t expect an iTunes app on Windows 8 any time soon,” said Tami Reller of Microsoft’s Windows division. “ITunes (sic) is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It’s not for lack of trying.” Windows 8 users can only use iTunes in desktop mode, which means the iTunes experience suffers on Windows tablets. It also means iTunes can’t be used on the Microsoft Surface, which only runs Microsoft desktop software. And as the report notes, “There’s no reason for Apple to help make the Surface a better product.” [via CNN Money]
Despite a report last month that Apple was close to making the deals necessary to move forward with the company’s streaming music service, a new report notes Apple is still discussing royalties. Universal Music is reportedly on board, and Warner Music is close, but Apple is still negotiating with Sony Music. Sources say Apple raised its royalty offer of 6 cents per 100 songs streamed up to 12.5 cents per 100 songs — the same rate as Pandora — but it’s unknown if Universal accepted that rate.
Some music executives argue Apple should pay a higher rate than Pandora due to its “broader ambitions” for iRadio, including the use of prediction data from iTunes users and a seamless plan to purchase songs through iTunes. Apple is reportedly offering revenue to labels through streaming royalties and advertising, while offering a guaranteed minimum sum as a safety net in case the revenue streams disappoint. [via Financial Times]
Apple won a lawsuit on Wednesday over the use of the term “iBooks” as Black Tower Press, which sued Apple in 2011, was ruled not to have exclusive rights to the term. Black Tower Press, a small publisher, owned the “ibooks” mark, but never obtained a registered trademark. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote explained “ibooks” only described books sold on the Internet, and wrote that consumers would not confuse Apple’s iBooks with the term used by Black Tower Press. [via GigaOM]
Peapod Labs’ just-released Bugsy’s Math Quest ($3) stars the company’s long-time mascot, Bugsy the hamster, who walks through 2-D side-scrolling levels, facing animals and monsters every few seconds. To get past most opponents, you need to tap once or twice on the bottom-of-screen keypad to enter digits that solve a multiplication or division problem. Each level ends with a boss encounter akin to a quiz, where you need to rapidly solve a handful of problems in a row to defeat the boss and move on. The game’s flat graphics and audio are pretty good, improving on what we’ve previously seen from Peapod’s Bugsy titles, but even the easy difficulty level will prove challenging for the young (4-5-year-old) children the app claims to be appropriate for. This is due in equal parts to the fast pacing, the lack of instructional content, and choice of multiplication and division rather than addition and subtraction; Math Quest is really appropriate for older kids who already know basic multiplication and division tables from school. They’ll find this to be a great reinforcer — better than flash cards — but a mode that teaches rather than just drilling on correct answers would be a nice addition.
Netflix’s newly-updated version 4.1 Netflix (free) app now makes it easier for binge watchers with the new post-play feature. When watching a TV show, the Netflix app will now automatically queue up the next episode and play it without the user having to do anything. For movies, post-play lists the three best related movie recommendations while the credits of the current movie start to roll.
Newer Technology has announced the NuGuard GripStand and GripBase for iPad mini ($35-$60), a smaller version of the GripStand and GripBase we reviewed for full-sized iPads. Fitting seamlessly with Apple’s Smart Cover, NuGuard’s GripStand mini lets users swivel the integrated circular stand 360 degrees to position at any angle. The stand can also be used as a handle to carry the iPad mini like a very small briefcase. GripBase is a more substantial desktop base that elevates the iPad mini above a flat surface.
Sold separately, GripStand for iPad mini is available now for $35. The GripStand can also be purchased with the GripBase in a bundle for $60.
AT&T has announced the launch of Aio Wireless, a new prepaid cellular brand. Aio Wireless offers a number of devices under no-contract plans, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. The iPhone 5 is being sold for $650. It is available with the Aio Smart plan, featuring unlimited talk, messaging, and data with high speed access for the first 2GB for $55 a month, or the Aio Pro plan, which offers the same features as the Smart plan, but with high speed access for the first 7GB of data for $70 a month. Aio Wireless is available now in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa — the service will make its way to additional U.S. markets during the next year.
After a long absence from the bleeding edge of the high-end earphone market, Shure has just debuted a four-driver canalphone model: the SE846 Quad Driver Earphones ($1000). Using 10 laser-cut, laser-welded stainless steel plates, Shure boasts that the SE846 earphones offer a true subwoofer experience through a revolutionary low-pass filter. The earphones feature two low-frequency drivers, one mid-frequency driver, and one high-frequency driver. Users will be able to choose between three sound signatures — warm, balanced, or bright — while listening.
The SE846 Quad Driver Earphones feature removable cables and offer a transparent look. Shure claims the earphones will isolate up to 37 decibels of ambient noise. The earphones are available for pre-order at Earphone Solutions, and are estimated to ship in June.
Multiple reports have noted a surge in mobile traffic from devices using iOS 7 recently, as Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is now about a month away. Notably, there’s been a reported rise in usage from iOS 7 iPhones and iPads in the Cupertino and San Francisco areas. Increased testing suggests Apple will have a public preview of iOS 7 available for developers at the conference, as many already expect. [via MacRumors, TechCrunch]
Having been less conspicuous in the Apple speaker market for the last few years, Klipsch has just released its KMC 3 Wireless Music System ($400), a new Bluetooth speaker. KMC 3 is a 2.1-channel wireless music system with a 5.25” subwoofer and two 2” full range drivers. A USB input is included for charging devices, and the speaker can run on 8 D batteries when unplugged.
Klipsch’s KMC 3 Wireless Music System comes in black or white. According to Klipsch’s website, it is available now in black in “limited quantities,” with a “spring” release planned for the white version.
During its patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung, Apple is attempting to force Google to turn over documents related to the Android operating system. In a court filing, Apple argued that Android is used in all of the allegedly infringing products from Samsung, and the operating system “provides much of the accused functionality” in Apple’s claims. Apple claims Google is improperly withholding information about the terms it’s using to locate documents that Apple requested. “It’s a question of transparency,” Apple lawyer Mark Lyon said. “We have concerns that they’re not doing a full search.” [via Bloomberg]
Mass production on the screen for the new iPhone, likely the iPhone 5S, will reportedly begin in June. The “liquid crystal panel” will be produced by Sharp, LG Electronics, and Japan Display, according to a report from Japan’s Nikkan (translated link). The report notes the display’s specifications are “close” to the iPhone 5, suggesting the new version could be slightly different than the current display, though no further details are given. [via 9to5Mac]