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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

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Apps: Angry Birds Rio 1.7, Bank of America 4.3, djay 2 + OpenTable 5.1

Rovio’s been keeping its furious fowl busy as another Angry Birds game gets new levels — this time it’s Angry Birds Rio (free). Version 1.7 of the game includes 15 more beach levels to the Golden Beachball episode. Collecting all the golden cherries will unlock bonus levels, and other surprises have been added to the game, as well.

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Bank of America updated its free Bank of America — Mobile Banking app to version 4.3. Most notably, Bank of America members can now make credit card payments using checking accounts from other banks — users just have to set up an external account. It’s also now possible for members to receive and send money using email addresses and mobile phone numbers.

Apple adds power adapter page to Chinese site

Apple has added a new power adapter page to its Chinese website, following two recent shock incidents from iPhone chargers in China — including an electrocution, and another shock that left a man in a coma. The new page features pictures of various official Apple chargers, to help users with identification.

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On the site, Apple suggests that its own official chargers should be used. Both recent shock incidents were allegedly caused by counterfeit chargers. [via The Next Web]

Apple dev center details restoration, adds status page

Apple has released a statement detailing a maintenance plan for its still-down developer website. To keep developers updated on the progress of the restoration, Apple has created a new status page that shows which systems are online. As of this writing, only iTunes Connect and Bug Reporter were online. The company notes that updated systems and videos would be rolled out first, with software downloads next, followed by the remaining systems. It’s likely that iOS 7 beta 4 won’t be introduced at least until software downloads are restored.

Miniot debuts wooden Cover for iPad mini

Miniot has released its wooden Cover for iPad mini ($77 and up). The Dutch manufacturer is offering the case in five different types of wood: walnut, cherry, mahogany, wedge, and louro faia. Like the earlier full-sized iPad version, Miniot’s wood Cover magnetically attaches to the iPad mini’s body. It also rolls up into a stand to offer different viewing angles.

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Each Miniot case is carved from a single piece of wood. Personal engraving and six lining colors are offered — the Cover’s price ranges from $79 to $103 based on options selected. Miniot’s Cover for iPad mini is available now, but the production time is currently listed as “approximately 5 weeks plus shipping.”

Google unveils Chromecast for HDTVs, new Nexus 7

Google today launched notable new challengers to the Apple TV and iPad families, starting with Chromecast ($35), a plug-in dongle for accessing online videos and music on an HDTV. Chromecast is compatible with iOS devices — it uses the device as the remote, and to stream content to the TV. Users plug Chromecast into an HDTV, connect it to Wi-Fi, and the device controls streaming of content from the Internet, offering some of the functionality of an Apple TV at a much lower price point.

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Power is supplied to the dongle via an included USB power adapter. Content for the dongle comes from services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play, as well as mirroring of one tab from Google’s Chrome browser. Customers who purchase Chromecast from Google Play, Best Buy or Amazon have an offer for three free months of Netflix — the offer extends to current Netflix subscribers, meaning that Netflix subscribers with the $8 a month streaming plan can get Chromecast for a net cost of about $11. Chromecast is available now.

Google also debuted its new Nexus 7 tablet as an improved rival to the iPad mini. The 7” tablet display comes in at 1920x1200, with a 323 ppi pixel density — almost twice that of the iPad mini. Nexus 7 also packs dual-stereo speakers, a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, and two cameras — 1.2MP for the front camera and 5MP for the back. It will ship with Android 4.3 and will hit the market July 30. A 16GB model with Wi-Fi is $230, or $99 less than the comparably specced iPad mini, and the 32 GB model is $270, undercutting the $429 mini. A 4G LTE 32GB model is $350, or $209 less than the comparable iPad mini LTE version.

Google also announced it will bring textbooks to Google Play Books, mirroring Apple’s addition of textbooks to the iPad in the iBookstore. All five major textbook publishing houses have signed on to the service, which lets users purchase textbooks or rent for six months. The new service will work on iOS devices, and it should arrive in early August. [via 9to5Google]

Beats debuts revamped Studio headphones

Beats Electronics has unveiled its redesigned Beats Studio headphones ($300). The new Studio headphones come with an enhanced 20-hour rechargeable battery, dual-mode adaptive noise canceling, and “reengineered sound.” An auto on/off switch helps conserve battery power, and a battery gauge lets users monitor power. The battery can be recharged via micro-USB cable.

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The new Beats Studio headphones come with the company’s new DSP software, Beats Acoustic Engine. Beats also claims the new Studio headphones are lighter and stronger than the previous edition, with softer ear cups and a more comfortable headband. Coming in black, white, and red, Beats Studio headphones will be available in August.

App Store top earner for EA during quarter

Electronic Arts, one of the world’s largest game companies, disclosed that it made more money through Apple’s App Store than any through other retail outlet in the most recent quarter. Freemium games such as The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Real Racing 3, and The Sims FreePlay pushed mobile revenues for EA, surpassing the money made through both retail distributors and its own Origin download service. EA COO Peter Moore said Apple becoming EA’s biggest retail partner is “a first.” The company was also reportedly the most downloaded publisher on the App Store in the quarter. [via VentureBeat]

Notes from Apple’s Q3 2013 Conference Call

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer started the company’s third-quarter 2013 financial results conference call by discussing Apple’s June quarter record for 31.2 million iPhones sold. Total revenue for Apple is up one percent from Q3 2012. The iPhone has experienced 66 percent growth in Japan. Oppenheimer called the drop in iPad sales a “tough comparison” based on lower unit production.

Oppenheimer highlighted the success of iTunes, with total quarterly revenue of $4 billion from iTunes software and services. The last week of the quarter was the best ever for the App Store. Oppenheimer said there are more than 900,000 iOS apps now, with more than 375,000 apps for iPad. He said Apple is “on track to have a very busy Fall, I’d like to leave it there and go into more detail in October.” While the latter remark has been interpreted by some outlets to suggest that Apple will not make additional product announcements until October, it’s likely that Oppenheimer was referring to the company’s next conference call—the only time when he is present at public question and answer sessions such as this.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said growth for Apple would come from new products, again mentioning the products would be in both “existing and new categories.” Cook said he doesn’t believe the higher-end smartphone market has hit its peak. He also mentioned iPad has experienced double-digit growth in many markets.

Regarding iPhone sales, Cook said, “We saw very strong sales in several of the emerging markets or prepaid markets.” He acknowledged China was weaker in the quarter. “That is a lower growth rate than we have been seeing ... I attribute it to many things,” he said, including the Chinese economy. Hong Kong sales were down, and Cook said, “It’s not totally clear exactly why that occurred.” He later said, “I continue to believe that in the arc of time here, China is a huge opportunity for Apple ... I don’t get discouraged over a 90-day kind of cycle ....”

More after the break.

Apple Q3 2013: 31.2M iPhones, 14.6M iPads, 4.6M iPods

Apple has reported its financial results for its fiscal 2013 third quarter. The company sold 31.2 million iPhones, a June quarter record, up from 26 million iPhones in last year’s third quarter, and 37.4 million iPhones last quarter. Apple sold 14.6 million iPads in the third quarter, down from 17 million in Q3 2012, and 19.5 million last quarter. As with Q2 2013’s press release, Apple did not include iPod sales numbers in the release, but it sold 4.6 million iPods in the quarter, compared to 5.6 million iPods last quarter, and 6.8 million iPods in Q3 2012.

Apple posted quarterly revenue of $35.3 billion and net quarterly profit of $6.9 billion — $7.47 per diluted share. This compares with revenue of $35.02 billion and net quarterly profit of $8.8 billion in Q3 2012, or $9.32 per diluted share. Gross margin was 36.9 percent compared to 42.8 percent in Q3 2012. International sales made up 57 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“We are especially proud of our record June quarter iPhone sales of over 31 million and the strong growth in revenue from iTunes, Software and Services,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We are really excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, and we are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014.”

“We generated $7.8 billion in cash flow from operations during the quarter and are pleased to have returned $18.8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer.

For Q4 2013, Apple is expecting revenue between $34 billion and $37 billion, gross margin between 36 percent and 37 percent, and operating expenses between $3.9 billion and $3.95 billion.

Apps: Bad Piggies 1.4, Cobra iRadar 3.2, Drinkspiration 2.06 + Pac-Man Dash!

Rovio’s Bad Piggies ($1) — both the standard and iPad HD versions — have been updated to version 1.4. Bad Piggies now features 30 new Rise & Swine levels for players. Also included in the update are new power-ups including super glue, magnets, and turbo charges, plus the new grappling hook item, and the Super Mechanic, which lets players get three stars on any level. The Super Mechanic can be earned or purchased.

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Cobra iRadar (free) from Cobra Electronics Corporation has updated to version 3.2. The iRadar app has always aided users of the Cobra iRadar detectors, but now, the app offers shared radar detection data and Live Police locations as an in-app purchase for those who don’t own the detector. Also added in the latest update were music controls, background alerts, and a countdown that shows the distance between alerts.

Apple patents: On-hold shared content, dual-sensor imaging

Two new patents recently granted to Apple reveal possible features for future iPhones. A patent for an on-hold visual menu provides “personal content” to an iPhone caller that’s been placed on hold. The caller on hold is then able to select from the menu and interact with data shared by the other iPhone user — the caller can listen to music, view photos or videos, and more. It would also be possible to configure the iPhone to share content based on the identity of the caller on hold — for instance, a user may choose to share content with only certain selected contacts.

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Another new patent for a dual-sensor image processing system describes a technology that allows a device to use two image sensors to produce better pictures. The system would be able to recognize defective pixels from one of the sensors, and correct the image with data from the other sensor. It’s noted that the techniques could be applied to both photos and videos. [via Apple Insider, (2)]

Plantronics debuts BackBeat Go 2 wireless sport earbuds

Plantronics has launched its BackBeat Go 2 stereo earbuds ($80). The lightweight, wireless Bluetooth earbuds feature listening time up to 4.5 hours or talk time of up to 5 hours with the included microphone. Plantronics’ DeepSleep hibernation mode keeps the BackBeat Go 2 earbuds charged and ready for use for up to six months. The BackBeat Go 2 is also sweatproof for moisture protection.

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The earbuds feature an iOS-ready battery status meter, and voice prompts that alert users about remaining charge and device pairings. Three eartip sizes are included. An alternate version sold for $100 includes a charging case, capable of adding an hour of listening time after only 20 minutes of charging, in addition to offering up to 14.5 hours of listening time when fully charged. BackBeat Go 2 is available now in black or white.

Apple drops AU for new iPad mini display, Samsung added?

Apple has reportedly dropped AU Optronics and will add Samsung Display as a supplier for its second-generation iPad mini LCD displays. Sharp and LG Display will also be suppliers for the next iPad mini’s display, which will apparently be an oxide semiconductor LCD to save power. A prior report claimed AU Optronics was already working on displays for the second-gen iPad mini. No further details about the display were mentioned in the new report. [via ETNews]

Apple announces 1 billion podcast subscriptions

Using the iTunes Store to spread the news, Apple has confirmed that one billion podcasts have been subscribed to on iTunes. A special new section in the iTunes Store Podcasts section spotlights “some of the most popular podcasts of all time, as well as a collection of captivating new shows.” These featured podcasts are grouped into “The Classics,” “What’s Hot,” and “New & Noteworthy.” Podcasts on iTunes launched in the summer of 2005.

AT&T adds two budget tiers to Mobile Share

AT&T has announced the addition of two new lower-priced Mobile Share plans. The new 300MB tier is $20 a month — considering the extremely low data amount, AT&T may be looking to make a dent in the prepaid smartphone market. This tier may also appeal to first-time iPhone owners who may upgrade in the future, and customers who would only use data on very rare occasions.

The new 2GB plan costs $50 a month. This tier may appeal most to a current user who might be bringing a second, lower data-use member into the same AT&T Mobile Share plan. Both of the new plans will be available on July 26.

Apple acquires transit navigation service HopStop

Following its acquisition of local data company Locationary last week, Apple also was confirmed to have acquired HopStop, an online transit navigation service that specializes in mass transit directions. HopStop offers mass transit travel directions in more than 500 cities — subway, bus, walking, cycling, and taxi directions are currently all included by the site. This acquisition is likely to fill a gap in Apple’s Maps service that became obvious after it switched away from Google, which has offered reliable mass transit guidance for years. [via Bloomberg, AllThingsD]

WSJ: Apple testing larger iPad, iPhone screens

Apple is testing larger screens for both iPads and iPhones, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to company suppliers, Apple has “asked for prototype smartphone screens larger than 4 inches and has also asked for screen designs for a new tablet device measuring slightly less than 13 inches.” The iPhone 5 and fourth-generation iPad have screen sizes of 4 inches and 9.7 inches, respectively; rumors of a 12.9” iPad prototype appeared earlier this year. CEO Tim Cook has mentioned on numerous occasions that making larger screens for phones results in tradeoffs in overall product quality, but it’s possible that improved IGZO screen technology has enabled Apple to consider larger screens. Apple declined to comment.

Apple Developer site hacked: names, addresses taken?

Apple has released a statement noting that an intruder attempted to access its developer website last Thursday, with the hacker attempting to secure personal information from developers. Although sensitive information was encrypted, the company notes “we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses and/or email addresses may have been accessed.” The site has been down since Thursday, and Apple says it’s overhauling developer systems, updating server software and rebuilding its database. App updates, new releases, and behind-the-scenes developer account issues will be impacted by the hack; it’s also possible that the latest iOS 7 beta release may be delayed as a result.

A security researcher, Ibrahim Balić, claims that he reported a security hole in Apple’s developer portal hours before the site went down, according to 9to5Mac. Balić claims he could access names, Apple IDs/email addresses, and user IDs through a “simple unescaped injection attack.” According to the report, Balić says he did this “for security research purposes and does not plan to use the information in any malicious manner,” and he plans on deleting the information.

iWork for iCloud beta invites sent out to public

Apple has sent out invitations to some users for early access to its iWork for iCloud beta. Before now, only developers had access to the beta.

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iWork for iCloud offers users the chance to access Pages, Numbers, and Keynote from the cloud, including creation, viewing, and editing capabilities for productivity documents. Anyone with an iCloud account can use it, and those invited to the beta can sign up at iCloud.com.

iLounge Weekly arrives Monday, July giveaway reminder

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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Also be sure to enter our uNu DX-5 Battery Case Giveaway, in which iLounge and uNu are giving away ten DX-5 Battery Cases for the iPhone 5. Simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page to enter; both giveaways will end on July 31, 2013 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

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