Apple has launched a “fact-finding visit” to Bangka Island, Indonesia, to see if it is using illegally mined tin in its products, according to an update on the company’s Supplier Responsibility webpage. The move may have been prompted by a Friends of the Earth campaign that calls for Apple to “publicly come clean” about the sourcing of tin in its iPhones. Samsung has already admitted to using tin from Bangka Island. Tin mining on Bangka Island is reportedly responsible for destroying forests and farmland, harming coral reefs, and negatively impacting local communities. [via The Verge]
Apple and Google have seen their relationship improve during the past year, according to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. Schmidt said the companies have conducted “lots and lots” of meetings, without providing further details about those meetings. Google and Apple are in “constant business discussions on a long list of issues,” he said. Apple has distanced itself from Google recently by choosing to use services on its devices from other companies, such as Yahoo!, and through providing its own Apple Maps service for iOS. [via Reuters]
Verizon may end up owing Apple billions of dollars in 2013 due to a purchase commitment for iPhones, according to a report. Telecommunications analyst Craig Moffett estimates the carrier could have a shortfall of $12 billion to $14 billion, with Verizon obligated to buy $23.5 billion in iPhones this year; a second analyst concurs with the lower number. Such a shortfall could spark some negotiation between Verizon and Apple on how to fill the gap. Neither Apple nor Verizon commented on the report. Notably, the report suggests that Sprint will likely be able to meet its own commitment to buy $15.5 billion in iPhones during over four years. Sprint started selling the iPhone in 2011. [via Bloomberg]
As the fourth game in Eidos’s well-respected Deus Ex series, Square Enix’s new universal release Deus Ex: The Fall ($7) is a remarkably rich first-person shooter—an original title that looks and plays far better than one would expect from a purely mobile release. Continuing the franchise’s dystopian cyberpunk storyline, The Fall includes all of the dual virtual stick exploration and upgradeable weaponry you’d expect from a typical FPS, plus hacking, strategic elements, and dialogue-based “choices” that affect the progress of the story. Players will be impressed by the sheer quantity of spoken dialog and explanatory cutscenes in the 800+MB title, as well as the large, respectably detailed environments and fluidly animated characters—all best viewed on Retina devices. iOS gamers looking for a simpler interface will appreciate touchscreen-ready tweaks, such as the option to tap-acquire targets and/or double-tap the ground to move without the virtual stick. Though the dark, heavily orange-tinted art doesn’t have the jaw-dropping beauty of Gameloft’s best FPS releases, Deus Ex makes up for optical omissions with greater originality and depth.
Enjoyed by many web users, IFTTT (free) has come to iOS in app form. By using the statement “if this then that,” IFTTT allows users to automate a number of services and wireless devices when triggered by other actions. For instance, a user might instruct IFTTT that when a photo is taken, IFTTT should automatically save the photo to Dropbox. There are many possibilities using a number of services, including Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter, as well as devices such as Philips’ Hue, Belkin’s WeMo, and Jawbone’s UP.
Maclocks has introduced the Apple TV Security Mount ($45). Made from aluminum and colored black to match the Apple TV, the security mount includes a bracket and lock to keep an Apple TV secure. The design allows for proper ventilation to prevent overheating, and protecting against Wi-Fi signal loss.
The Apple TV Security Mount can be secured to any flat surface using mounting holes in the bracket, and a security cable lock can be added for $20. Maclocks’ Apple TV Security Mount is available now.
Apple is asking the International Trade Commission for a stay on an upcoming August 5 ban of older iPhone and iPad models. The ITC ruled in June that Apple violated a Samsung patent, and issued an import ban on GSM versions of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and cellular first- and second-generation iPads. Apple is arguing that the ban will harm both the company and its carrier partners, even though the company previously stated the decision had “no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States.” Though carrier names were redacted from Apple’s filing, AT&T and T-Mobile are likely the affected companies. Apple is waiting for the Federal Circuit to decide on an appeal. [via GigaOM]
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled today that Apple conspired to raise e-book prices, and a trial for damages will be forthcoming. The U.S. Department of Justice first filed the price-fixing antitrust lawsuit in April 2012 against Apple and five book publishers, all of whom settled out of court before trial. Cote said in May that the government had enough evidence to prove Apple conspired with publishers to raise e-book prices, and the decision today confirmed her prior statement. “The plaintiffs have shown that the publisher defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy,” Cote said. The U.S. government and a number of states will likely receive damages from Apple. [via Reuters]
The latest iOS 7 beta makes two significant changes to non-Retina iPads’ handling of apps with iPhone/iPod-specific interfaces. Previously, non-Retina iPads displayed iPhone/iPod apps at a classic 480x320 resolution, upscaling them with a “2X” button to a larger, chunky-looking 960x640 window. On a non-Retina iPad 2 or iPad mini running iOS 7, the apps are now displayed at the larger size by default, but use the higher-resolution text and graphics seen on the Retina iPhone 4/4S and fourth-generation iPod touch, while removing the ability to shrink to “1X” size. Retina iPads, however, still give users the choice of toggling between 1x and 2x mode. [via MacRumors]
A developer claims that a previously-announced new iOS 7 feature — higher frame rate video recording — will actually be more powerful than expected. During WWDC, Apple announced that iOS 7 would add support for 60 frame per second video recording. According to Hamza Sood, hidden references inside the latest iOS 7 beta releases indicate support for up to 120 frame per second recording, which is four times as many frames per second as users are accustomed to seeing in TV shows. Rather than displaying videos at such a high frame rate, which would be higher than the brain can perceive, the 120 frame per second mode would enable the camera to effectively slow down recordings to 1/4 of their normal speed, enabling viewers to see otherwise imperceptible motions in butterfly wings, guitar string vibrations, and other rapidly changing situations. It’s speculated that support for this feature may require new camera hardware in a future iPhone, and/or lower than the full 1080p recording resolution used by current iPhones. [via 9to5Mac]
Expedia has updated its Expedia Hotels & Flights (free) app to version 3.2. Previously capable of helping users compare hotel and flight prices, the app now features local experts that can help users book reservations and find activities in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Hawaii, as well as synchronized FlightTrack integration for FlightTrack app users. Notably, the app is universal with a unique workaround for its still-in-progress iPad flight-booking interface: when switching from hotel search to flight search, the iPad app animates a transition to using an iPhone, right on the iPad screen. The updated app also offers more low-cost flights, and more countries, as users in India, Malaysia, Sinagpore, and Thailand can now book flights.
Microsoft’s digital notebook Microsoft OneNote has updated its free app for iPad and iPhone to version 2.0. The app improves formatting and consistency across devices, and allows users to create or edit tables. Notes will now sync automatically to SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint. It’s also easier to view and find notes, with updated navigation and full page view. Ink annotations and rich text formatting are also now available.
Apple and Amazon have both decided to end their lawsuit over the rights to use of the term “app store,” according to Reuters. Following an initial ruling that suggested Amazon would prevail in the case, a spokeswoman for Apple said that the company no longer needed to pursue the case, and Amazon agreed not to sue. Both companies are free to use the term “app store.”
The companies were ordered to begin settlement talks in March before an August trial. Apple originally sued Amazon over use of the term in March 2011; in January, Apple’s claim of false advertising against Amazon over use of the term was dismissed.
CableJive has introduced dockBoss5 ($30), an adapter that converts a 30-pin Apple-compatible dock into a universal charging station, complete with audio output. The adapter uses a full-sized USB port, allowing for non-Dock Connector devices to charge or play audio.
CableJive’s dockBoss5 comes with a three-foot USB to micro-USB cable and a three-foot audio connection cable. Users can self-supply Lightning to USB cables for connection of recent-model iPods, iPhones, and iPads. It is available now.
A change in iOS 7 beta 3 may allude to Apple making its iWork and iLife apps free in iOS 7. The recommended free Apple apps screen in the third beta now includes Apple’s iWork suite, as well as iPhoto and iMovie, though not GarageBand. This could be changed before final release, and may be an App Store glitch, but it appears to have been a deliberate addition to the list of free Apple downloads. Apple may want to make it easier for users to access its iWork suite, especially with the introduction of iWork for iCloud, and might also see the iPhoto and iMovie tools as worthy of giving away with iOS—similar to their bundling with OS X for the Mac. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has been targeted in a class action suit for selling iTunes customers HD video downloads even when the customers had older devices that didn’t support HD. The suit was reportedly filed by a Florida lawyer who claimed Apple deceived him into paying an extra $1 for an HD version of a film. A complaint accuses Apple of making HD the default option for video downloads on the first three versions of the iPhone and iPod touch, even though the devices didn’t support HD playback. The downloaded videos would then play in standard definition. It’s alleged that iTunes could recognize an SD-only device, but would still sell the HD version of the video. Compensation is being sought for those who paid to download HD videos to the older devices. [via GigaOM]
Apple has released the third beta of iOS 7 to registered developers. The company released the second beta two weeks ago, and the first beta of iOS 7 two weeks before that. The third beta is now available through Software Update in iOS settings, and “contains bug fixes and improvements,” according to sparse notes. Additional details on newly added features will become available over the next several days.
Update: iOS 7 beta 3 has also been posted to Apple’s developer portal.
A new “Only on the App Store” promotion has made a number of top iOS apps and games free from iTunes. Infinity Blade II, Where’s My Water?, Badland, Tiny Wings for iPhone and iPad, Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP, Day One, Over, Barefoot World Atlas, Traktor DJ for iPhone and iPad and more are all currently free — Traktor DJ notably normally sells for $20.
The apps have likely gone free to mark the upcoming fifth anniversary of the App Store. It’s unclear how long the apps will be available for free, or if other apps will be made free at some point. [via The Verge]
Update: Apple has noted the apps are free for a limited time as part of “5 Years of the App Store.” A timeline of App Store milestones can be viewed within the App Store. The promotion also includes How To Cook Everything for free, in addition to the apps listed above.
A recently published Apple patent application details flexible battery packs for use in electronic devices. Apple’s application focuses on battery packs that may consist of multiple cells, which could be connected by laminate layers. The arrangement allows “the battery to be shaped to fit a form factor of the electronic device.” Cells could also be removed in certain situations, which could allow for more manufacturing possibilties.
The application notes the flexible battery packs could “be employed in wristwatches, calculators, laptop computers, tablet computers, and/or music players.” It’s possible Apple could use such technology in its rumored smart watch. The company has already been linked to flexible and wraparound displays, in both a job listing and previous patent applications published in March and February. [via Patently Apple]
Rovio’s original Angry Birds ($1) now features a brand new episode, Red’s Mighty Feathers, in which the Red Bird gains new powers from the Mighty Eagle. Instead of seeking to defeat the pigs, Red Bird is defending his eggs in this episode, making for a shift in gameplay. The new levels in version 3.2 also incorporate gameplay from Rovio’s Bad Piggies game, as the pigs advance in contraptions to steal eggs. Red’s Mighty Feathers features 15 new levels.
Playdead’s acclaimed sidescroller Limbo ($5) finally makes its way to iOS. Having debuted for XBox Live Arcade in 2010, the game features a young boy making his way through a dark forest. A quiet, atmospheric game in black and white, Limbo gives users no indication on how to control its character or what to do next. It can leave gamers a bit lost at first when sending the boy into another gruesome death, but the trial-and-error nature of the game almost begs users to walk into certain death to figure out a better way to navigate its puzzles. The controls are intuitive, even when using a touchscreen. If you dig its creepy vibe, Limbo is certainly worth buying as a welcome twist to the sidescroller genre.
Just Mobile has released the Gum++ ($90), a new stylish high-capacity backup battery for smartphones, tablets, and other USB-powered devices. The Gum++ incorporates a 6000mAh battery encased in a glossy, durable hard ABS shell, and provides enough capacity to recharge an iPhone up to 3 times or add additional charge to an iPad, including the ability to provide up to 2.5A of current for full-speed iPad charging.
The Gum++ is available in a range of colours and is bundled with a USB-to-micro-USB cable for recharging the battery from any USB power source.
As our U.S.-based editors are celebrating Independence Day with our families, iLounge will be on a limited publishing schedule today, July 4, 2013. Happy Fourth of July to our U.S. readers—we’ll be back in full force tomorrow!