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Top grossing apps make $47k daily; new international prices

A new report from app analytics company Distimo claims that an app must make an average of $47,000 per day to crack the App Store’s top ten in top grossing apps. The report also notes a top ten paid app generally averages about 4,000 downloads per day, while a top ten free app averages about 72,000 downloads per day. An app that reaches the top 50 in the top grossing charts earns an average of $12,000 each day for iPhone apps, and $10,200 for iPad apps.

On a related note, Apple is introducing new pricing tiers in some of the international App Stores, a new report notes. A new 99-cent Euro price has been introduced for European countries, while a number of other countries have seen changes, as well. [via Apple Insider, 9to5Mac]

Foxconn shows iPhone-compatible smart watch

Foxconn has demonstrated an iPhone-compatible smart watch, which it plans to release on its own as an iOS accessory. The watch can measure vital signs, as well as check phone calls and Facebook posts. Though other iOS-compatible Bluetooth smart watches have already been released — such as Martian’s Passport Watch, ConnecteDevice’s Cookoo and Pebble — Foxconn’s watch is notable because the company has been Apple’s key manufacturing partner for years, and most likely would not want to damage its relationship with the Cupertino company by directly challenging it. [via WantChinaTimes]

A new Wall Street Journal report notes Google is also developing an Android-powered watch. Samsung is also developing a watch, ensuring Apple will have plenty of competitors for its own rumored watch-like device.

Apps: Contra: Evolution, Foodspotting 4.0, Google Earth 7.1.1 + Jetpack Joyride 1.5

Contra: Evolution finally makes its official App Store debut. The Konami game brought to iOS by PunchBox Studios is out for the iPhone ($1) and iPad ($3) — the latter as Contra: EvolutionHD. The gameplay looks like classic Contra, and the graphics are sharp. Notably, a number of in-app purchases are available within the game.

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Foodspotting has updated its free app to version 4.0, with the most notable addition being the Food Camera. The Food Camera gives users a bevy of new options when photographing food, including the built-in ability to take and compare multiple photos of one dish. New gestures allow users to adjust and lock focus, while adjusting the exposure independently. It’s also now possible to select multiple photos for comparison, in addition to being able to zoom on photos to select the sharpest shot of a dish.

Microsoft not bringing Xbox games to iOS

Refuting an earlier report claiming Microsoft would release Xbox games for iOS this year, Microsoft Studios corporate VP Phil Spencer tweeted that the company won’t be bringing Xbox games to non-Microsoft devices. Spencer said the earlier article was a “translation error.” The first report also noted Age of Empires would be coming to iPhone — Microsoft later released a statement to Polygon claiming that there were no further announcements about Xbox games on iOS beyond Age of Empires. [via VG247]

iTunes Radio royalty rates revealed

Apple will pay royalties for iTunes Radio based on both how many times listeners hear a song, and how much advertising Apple sells, according to a report. iTunes Radio will pay labels 13 cents each time a song is played, in addition to 15 percent of net advertising revenue, “proportionate to a given label’s share of the music played on iTunes.” The rates will rise to 14 cents and 19 percent of ad revenue in the second year of iTunes Radio. These rates exceed the 12 cents per listen paid by Pandora, which is very similar to iTunes Radio.

It’s notable, however, that a number of songs played on iTunes Radio will be exempt from paid royalties. These include songs already in a listener’s iTunes library, songs on an album that is partially owned by a listener, and “Heat Seeker” tracks selected for special promotions. Apple also avoids paying royalties for songs skipped before 20 seconds have played, but the company can only avoid royalty payments for two songs per hour. These terms, given to independent labels, are “similar but not identical to” the terms given to the three major labels — Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment. There are also references to terms regarding the use of music in talk, weather, sports, and news programming on iTunes Radio, but the report notes “it’s unlikely Apple will invest much in creating such programming.” [via The Wall Street Journal]

Apple opens Russian online store

Apple has launched its official Russian online store, offering Russian customers the opportunity to directly buy iPhones, iPads, iPods and more. In addition to a full product lineup, the store also offers customer support.

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An August report noted Apple was planning direct sales in Russia, though no brick-and-mortar stores have been announced as of yet. The iTunes Store launched in Russia in early December.

iOS 7 lets devs detect blinking, smiling in photos

New image detectors that recognize facial expressions — such as blinking or smiling — have been added to iOS 7 beta 2, according to a report. Facial recognition has been around since iOS 5, but the new APIs could allow developers to add new features based on particular expressions, such as taking a photo when no one in the frame is blinking. Although at this point the feature only appears in the underlying iOS APIs, it’s possible that Apple could include new features in its own Camera app for the official release of iOS 7, as new Camera features are usually instituted with each new OS. [via 9to5Mac]

Apps: Amazon Instant Video 1.4.3, iTunes U 1.3.1 + Rdio 2.2.1

Amazon Mobile’s Amazon Instant Video (free) has updated to version 1.4.3, which makes finding videos faster and easier using a dropdown menu on the home screen or a navigation bar on the browse screens. More personalized carousels have also been added to the home screen. However, the app still notably lacks AirPlay support.

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Apple has updated iTunes U (free) to version 1.3.1. Users can now check for course updates by using pull-to-refresh animation. The updated app also resolves issues regarding updating content and quitting unexpectedly. Support for Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, and Spanish languages have also been improved.

Rdio (free) has updated to version 2.2.1, and the app now offers Song Stations — users can create a station based on any song. It’s possible to see four upcoming tracks and skipping is unlimited. The new AutoPlay feature lets users hear more songs similar to the song they just heard. In related news, Rdio also announced the ability to add up to five members to a family plan.

Patents: Samsung seeks EU settlement, Apple loses Japan appeal

Samsung is in discussions to settle with the European Union regulator regarding charges that the company blocked Apple from using an essential patent. In December, the European Commission informed Samsung it was unfair in seeking injunctions over the use of essential patents. Samsung has been discussing a settlement for months, according to a source.

Meanwhile, Apple has lost an appeal in Japan. Apple claimed Samsung infringed a patent regarding the synchronization of phone/tablet media files with servers, but the previous August ruling for Samsung was upheld, rejecting Apple’s infringement claim. [via Reuters, Bloomberg]

Report: Microsoft to bring Xbox, PC games to iPhone

Microsoft will bring Xbox and PC games to the iPhone within this fiscal year, according to a report. Japan’s Nikkei says that Microsoft plans to team up with Japanese company Klab Inc. to bring its games to the iPhone, including Age of Empires—a title that will be free to play worldwide, with other games to follow. [via Reuters]

Apple releases iOS 7 beta 2 (Update: iPad release)

Apple has released the second beta of iOS 7 to registered developers, just two weeks after the first beta release of the new operating system. The second beta is available through Software Update in iOS settings.

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iOS 7 beta 2 is a 237 MB update that contains bug fixes and improvements. The update will also be available through Apple’s developer portal.

Update: iPad versions of iOS 7 are now available in the second beta, which is now available on Apple’s developer portal.

iPhone 5S photos show A7, camera flash/mic changes

Photos of an iPhone 5S prototype posted on MacRumors appear to confirm both a next-generation chip and multiple changes to the device’s camera flash and microphone system. While A7 branding is notably absent from the prototype, smaller numeric markings on the chip are consistent with true generational changes, seemingly indicating that this is not just an upgraded A6.

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Additionally, the flash is now very clearly shown as twin LED — the LEDs could possibly be different colors, perhaps for improved skintone color accuracy in low-light situations. Also, the microphone hole is now circular rather than pill-shaped, and the camera looks a little different, as well. However, this is an early prototype, so the design of the device may have already changed. Other alleged iPhone 5S photos were leaked last week.

Apple in-app purchase lawsuit settlement gets website

A new website details consumers’ rights in the iTunes Store child in-app purchase class action settlement against Apple. As previously reported, Apple will offer iTunes credits or cash refunds to qualified users who found their iTunes accounts charged due to a minor making an in-app purchase. The new website features a search for qualified apps, as well as important deadlines; January 13, 2014 is the deadline to submit a claim.

Company says new chips bypass iOS 7 authentication

A developer has released Lightning cables that allegedly bypass iOS 7’s new authentication feature, which warns users about non-certified Lightning accessories. iPhone5mod.com claims that it has cracked the chips, allowing the cables to bypass Apple’s authentication process. Apple could fix the iOS 7 software to identify these cables, but it’s likely that unlicensed developers will keep tweaking their products in efforts to bypass the warnings. [via 9to5Mac]

Ballistic debuts Hydra waterproof iPhone 5 case

Ballistic has announced the Hydra ($80), a waterproof and dustproof case for iPhone 5 that’s made to be particularly easy to assemble and disassemble. The company claims the case can protect an iPhone while being submerged in up to seven feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Made of silicone and polycarbonate, the case also guarantees drop protection for falls up to 8 feet.

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Hydra comes with an optional holster and swiveling belt clip. It is available now, and offered in five colors.

Report: TSMC to make Apple’s A8, A9 chips

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has reached a three-year agreement to develop the next generation of Apple processors, according to a report. Using 20nm, 16nm, and 10nm process technologies, TSMC will manufacture A8 and A9 chips for Apple. Production of the A8 chips will start next month, with the processors expected to first appear in a 2014 iPhone release, sources said. The A9 and A9X chips will enter production in the third-quarter of 2014, with the processors expected to be used in later iPhones and iPads. [via DigiTimes]

iPhone 5 headed to Virgin Mobile

Having offered the iPhone 4 and 4S for almost a year, carrier Virgin Mobile will begin selling the iPhone 5 starting June 28. It’ll offer the 16GB model for $550, the 32GB model at $650, and the 64GB model at $750; these prices represent a $100 savings over the standard, unsubsidized costs. Virgin Mobile’s monthly plans start at $30 a month, and offer unlimited messaging and data.

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New photos claim to show iPhone 5S

MacRumors has posted images it believes to be of inside and back of the iPhone 5S. One shot shows the electronic components of the rumored-device, including the battery and logic board, while the other shows a slightly redesigned rear shell. The site notes a few interesting findings: the logic board appears to match one shown earlier in the week, the chip has not been labeled with an A-series name, a date code indicates the chip was manufactured in October 2012, and the battery has a higher capacity than that of the iPhone 5. Additionally, the back of the device shows what appears to be a dual LED flash array. 

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Apps: Instagram 4.0, Lytro, Modern Combat 4 1.1 + XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Burbn’s popular photo-sharing app Instagram (free) has added video in version 4.0. The addition will provoke comparisons to Vine, but the two are much different: Instagram video lets users take video clips as long as 15 seconds, and 13 video filters are also available. Videos notably do not loop, as they do in Vine. Cinema, an image stabilization feature, is available for those using the app on an iPhone 4S or 5.

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Lytro, maker of the Lytro Light Field Camera, has released a Lytro (free) app for iOS. The company has awakened the camera’s hitherto-unknown Wi-Fi capabilities in order to interact with the app, letting users share photos to Facebook and Twitter. Lytro’s app also lets users save photos as animated GIFs that can be emailed or sent via text. The Lytro Light Field Camera lets users refocus pictures after they’re taken, and allows interactive “living pictures” to be refocused endlessly—a neat technology that our editors felt wasn’t ready for prime time after testing the camera.

Logitech to retain Harmony brand, sell Harmony Hub

Following an earlier public disclosure that it was looking to sell its Harmony remote control business, Logitech has announced that it will retain the well-known product line. In a release, Logitech said, “The company has determined that retaining ownership is in the best interest of its shareholders. The Harmony product line has gained momentum following the April introduction of the Hamony Ultimate product, which is available in major retail locations including select Apple stores in the U.S., and has exceeded the company’s expectations for customer connections.”

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Logitech also announced that the Logitech Harmony Hub – a bundled component with Harmony Ultimate and Harmony Smart Control that turns iOS devices into universal remotes – will be available for purchase as a standalone $100 product this August. Harmony Hub is a universal remote control accessory for iOS devices, consisting of a wall-powered 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi receiver, Infrared blaster, and Bluetooth 3.0 chip. The glossy black accessory transforms Wi-Fi commands sent by an iOS device into Infrared or Bluetooth control signals for TVs, A/V components, and game consoles. It’s an upgraded version of the company’s prior Harmony Link, notably adding better software and Bluetooth support.

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