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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This is also your last chance to get in on our November giveaways! In our Unu DX-5 Battery Case Giveaway, iLounge and uNu are giving away fifteen uNu DX-5 Battery Cases and in our Gosh! Parallel Battery Case Giveaway we’re working with Gosh! to give away five giving away Parallel Battery Cases for iPhone 5/5s. Simply fill out and submit the forms on the giveaway pages to enter; the giveaways will both end tomorrow, November 30, 2013 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Following reports of Apple’s Black Friday sales offering gift cards instead of the traditional discounts in Australia, the U.S., and Canada, it now appears that the Apple Store in the U.K. and other European Union countries are continuing to offer discounts for Black Friday promotions. The U.K. Apple Store has MacBooks and iMacs discounted by £80, while iPod and iPad discounts range between £25 and £31. Similar discounts have appeared in other EU countries. [via 9to5Mac]
As expected, Apple has launched its Black Friday promotions in U.S. and Canadian Apple Stores, offering gift cards in place of the discounts that have traditionally been offered. Apple is including a $150 gift card for customers purchasing a Mac, $75 for the iPad Air, and $50 for the non-Retina iPad mini, iPad 2, and iPod touch. Notably, the promotion does not include the new iPad mini with Retina Display.
The gift card promotion also applies to a number of other Apple and third-party accessories, including the Apple TV, Airport Extreme, Time Capsule, Ultimate Ears UE Boom Wireless Speaker, Nest Thermostat, Anki Drive Starter Kit, and Nike+ FuelBand, with gift card values ranging from $25 to $50.
Mickey Mouse fans have two new downloads to consider this holiday season. Based on the recent PC/PlayStation/Xbox re-release, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse ($10) is Disney’s completely redrawn version of Sega’s 2-D game released for the Genesis/Mega Drive during its heyday in 1990—a point at which the game was considered to be gorgeous but relatively simplistic. Not only is the game now fully rendered in realtime 3-D graphics, but the gameplay has been substantially overhauled to include simple 3-D movement and action sequences between the mostly side-scrolling 2.5-D sections.
Full voice narration has been added, as have some level themes that go way beyond the Sega original. That said, the gameplay is still deliberately quite simple—walk, jump on things, and toss objects—with exploration of hidden sections in levels as the major incentive for continuing to play. It’s a very good game for kids, though expensive, and many adults will enjoy it as well.
Teased at earlier this week, Apple’s Black Friday deals for 2013 have been revealed, with the promotions now appearing in Australian Apple Store due to the time zone difference.
In a departure from prior years where modest discounts were offered on a selection of products, this year’s deals take the form of gift cards included with the purchase of a Mac, iPad, or iPod, as well as certain accessories. Gift card amounts in the Australian Store are AU$150 for a Mac, AU$75 for an iPad, and AU$50 for an iPod. It is likely similar amounts will be offered in the U.S. Store when Apple’s Black Friday deals go live here tomorrow morning. Notably, a gift card is not included with the purchase of the Retina iPad mini.
It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and we at iLounge would like to wish you a happy holiday and express how grateful we are for your readership and support. We will be on a limited posting schedule today and Friday; we will return to normal updates on Monday, December 2nd. Happy Thanksgiving!
A number of retailers will be featuring deals on Apple’s iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display on Black Friday, and MacRumors has rounded up a number of the best discounts. Target seems to be the best bet for both the Air and the Retina mini, notably offering a $100 Target gift card with the purchase of an already discounted $479 16GB iPad Air. Target is actually offering a $100 gift card with the purchase of any full-sized iPad, and a $75 gift card with the purchase of any iPad mini. Though the retailer has been very light on iPad supplies since its trade-in deal several weeks ago, it will reportedly have “small quantities” of the Retina iPad mini in stock. Best Buy ($450) and Staples ($449) are each offering $50 off the 16GB iPad Air, and it’s noted that Best Buy’s sale starts at 6 p.m. Thursday.
In a second report, 9to5Mac reports that Apple will most likely be offering gift cards rather than Black Friday discounts on its products—a switch from prior Black Friday promotions it has done in the past. Apple commonly has offered small discounts on a variety of readily-available first- and third-party products for one day after Thanksgiving, but this year appears to be prepared to offer cards of around $100 with the purchase of some Macs, and $50 for some iPads, with $25 to $50 cards for certain accessories. The cards will apparently need to be used separately from the Black Friday device purchases.
Apple’s recent acquisition of Israeli company PrimeSense led many to believe Apple would utilize PrimeSense’s motion tracking technology in a future Apple TV product. However, Jessica Lessin is now suggesting based on her sources that PrimeSense’s tech makes more sense for mapping, which Apple is clearly intent on improving. According to Lessin’s sources, “PrimeSense’s motion-sensing technology for gestural controls is a little bit behind,” but PrimeSense’s chips are already being used by companies that map three-dimensional spaces. Also commenting on the speculation surrounding a new Apple TV product, Lessin hears that Apple is “more interested in set-top boxes for now and that some early prototypes haven’t had motion technology.”
Kicker has introduced its Amphitheater K3 Speaker System with Bluetooth ($200) and Vapor Headphones ($220). The Amphitheater K3 uses aptX audio coding and delivers sound using 3-inch drivers, mid-bass woofers, a tuned-port enclosure, and a 2x10-watt amp. Devices can connect to the Amphitheater K3 using NFC or Bluetooth.
Kicker’s Vapor Headphones come equipped with a pair of 35mm dual-diaphragm transducers and sealing, leather ear pads. The headphones come with a detachable flat cable with three-button remote and microphone. Both products will be shown at CES in January, and released in the first quarter of 2014.
Foxconn has added workers to production lines and is “running its factories around the clock” to reduce waiting times for the iPhone 5s, the Wall Street Journal reports. The 5s is now shipping within three to five business days in the U.S. online store, down from a wait of two to three weeks. As reported last month, the production boost has come at the expense of the iPhone 5c. “We have been churning out about 500,000 iPhone 5s’s everyday, the highest daily output ever,” a Foxconn executive said. The executive also noted the 5s takes longer to assemble than a 5c or iPhone 5.
City Letters is a free app from Frugoton designed to teach the alphabet to young children. Kids learn how to identify letter shapes and sounds through tracing, as the app introduces reading and writing concepts through words connected to city life. A $2 in-app purchase gets users the whole game after testing the demo.
Touch Press has released The Elements in Action ($4), a new app expanding the award-winning The Elements: A Visual Exploration. The Elements in Action features 79 video explorations of properties of the elements, offering a demonstration for almost every element. Though the new Elements works as a standalone app, it can also be used as a companion to the original — when both apps are installed, the two link together.
Apple’s App Store has improved its search engine, which can now find apps despite misspellings and other mistakes, such as extraneous spaces. The changes went into effect a few weeks ago, according to a report. As noted in the article, SEO app firm SearchMan found Google Play’s app search was getting far more results from similar misspellings earlier this year. More results were found in Apple’s App Store during a recent search, along with evidence the App Store is now correcting misspellings. [via TechCrunch]
Rockstar Games announced Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will be coming to iOS in December. Brand new touch controls and three different driving control schemes have been added to the mobile version of the classic game. GTA: San Andreas will also feature full iOS 7 controller support for Made for iOS controllers. No price information has been released at this time.
iLounge has updated our iPad mini with Retina display review to include the Wi-Fi + Cellular model of Apple’s device. The Retina mini achieved roughly an hour better cellular battery life than the original model, running for 9 hours and 46 minutes. Cellular speeds were identical to the Air and iPhone 5-series phones.
We awarded the Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini an A-, the highest rating yet for a Cellular mini, and a tie with the differently-capable iPad Air. The single biggest surprise with the Cellular model was actually seeing the difference in screens, which had previously been reported by DisplayMate; our first three units had seemingly identical displays without image retention, but the fourth unit did show image retention issues. A photo of the issue is included in the updated review, though under most conditions, users will not notice the issue at all.
Apple has been awarded a patent for a digital camera with a refocusable mode, much like the Lytro light field camera, which is sold in Apple’s store. The invention’s description notes that “preferably” the camera would be a portable battery operated device that can include other functions, like an iPhone, rather than a standalone product.
Apple’s design would allow users to only use the light field capabilities if desired, by switching between a high-resolution non-refocusable mode and low-resolution refocusable mode using an adaptor. iLounge examined the possibilities of Apple using light field photography in future devices last May; Lytro met with late Apple CEO Steve Jobs before his death, and reportedly discussed the prospect of an acquisition or incorporation of the technology into iPhones. [via Apple Insider]
Just Mobile has introduced AluBolt ($50), a Lightning dock for iPhone and iPad mini. The aluminum dock comes with a built-in Lightning-to-USB cable.
Just Mobile claims AluBolt will work with devices in cases, however, it’s unclear how many and what kind of cases will be supported. The dock will be available in early December.
A judge has recently denied Samsung’s motion to stay a patent infringement damages trial with Apple. Samsung argued the trial should be put on hold due to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of Apple’s “pinch to zoom” patent. The motion wasn’t filed until last Wednesday, a day before Samsung was ordered to pay $290 million in additional damages to Apple. Judge Lucy Koh rejected the argument on Monday, saying expediting the case to the Federal Circuit after the ruling would best increase efficiency. [via CNET]
Apple collaborated with Danish company GN Store Nord in developing the company’s new hearing aid, Reuters reports. The ReSound LiNX hearing aid was first announced in late October by GN Store Nord. Billed as the world’s first MFi hearing aid, the device uses Bluetooth-like technology to stream voice and music from iPhones without using an intermediary device.
The ReSound LiNX sits behind the ear and comes in 10 hair and skin tone colors. A global launch is expected in the first quarter of 2014. The price is expected to be slightly more than $3,000.
A new Apple job posting seeks a Payments Software Engineer to “help build a next generation payment platform that will push the boundaries in new markets for Apple Retail.” The Senior Software Engineer position is looking for an expert in chip & pin technologies and bank messaging specifications, among other things. Apple’s posting also notes the engineer will “be responsible for integrating payment devices, middleware and acquirers into our retail solution.” [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has posted a teaser page in its Australian online store, confirming that this year’s Black Friday shopping event will take place on November 29. No such page can be found on the U.S. store as of yet. It’s unknown what the deals will be, but one would expect Apple’s typically modest Black Friday discounts, along with free shipping. [via 9to5Mac]