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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

NYNE intros floating Aqua Bluetooth speaker

NYNE has introduced Aqua ($130), a unique-looking, floating Bluetooth speaker. Aqua is IPX7-tested and waterproof, with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. It can be fully submerged in one meter of water for 30 minutes. The speaker has “close to 10 watts of power,” according to NYNE.

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Aqua features a 2200mAh rechargeable battery and has a built-in waterproof microphone and auxiliary input. The speaker will come in gray or blue, and is planned for launch in the “early second quarter” of 2014.

Apple hires NYT mag designer as creative director

  • December 30, 2013
  • Apple

New York Times Magazine design director Arem Duplessis has been hired by Apple as a creative director. Duplessis will apparently be involved in Apple’s internal marketing team, though it’s likely that he could contribute in other ways. In a 2011 interview with Mediabistro, Duplessis said his dream project would be to “design a revolutionary iPad app that would make the world wonderful and happy” before changing his answer. [via Mediabistro]

Alleged iPhone prototype sells for $1499

An apparent prototype for the original iPhone recently sold for $1,499 on eBay. The listing from “applefancollector” shows a device labeled “Ver. 1.1.1,” with signal bands also etched into the back.

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The included software seems to match software on similar early devices, and appears to be completely functional. Bidding for the device reached $516.01 before a buyer used the Buy It Now option at $1,499. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple, Samsung resume patent talks

  • December 30, 2013
  • Apple

Apple and Samsung are negotiating to end their disputes over patent infringement, The Korea Times reports. An official at the Fair Trade Commission said, “As far as I know, the companies recently resumed working-level discussions toward the signing of a potential deal. They are in the process of narrowing differences over royalty payments.” Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung reportedly held talks last year, but couldn’t reach an agreement, as Samsung wouldn’t accept Apple’s royalty demands. Samsung seeks a cross-licensing deal, which would allow the company to access certain Apple patents. But Apple is asking Samsung to pay more than $30 per device, which is “too much,” according to a Samsung official. Last week, Apple renewed a motion seeking a U.S. sales ban on certain Samsung products.

iLounge Weekly coming Monday, last chance for giveaway

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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Time is also running out in our December Unu Aero Wireless Giveaway, in which iLounge and uNu are giving away ten uNu Aero Wireless Charging Battery case and mat packages for the iPhone 5 and 5s. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page; the giveaway ends December 31, 2013 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Nokia pulls HERE Maps app, blames iOS 7

Nokia has pulled its HERE Maps app from Apple’s iOS App Store, citing changes in iOS 7 as the reason. A Nokia spokesperson said in a statement to The Indian Express, “We have made the decision to remove our HERE Maps app from the Apple App Store because recent changes to iOS 7 harm the user experience. iPhone users can continue to use the mobile web version of HERE Maps under m.here.com, offering them core location needs, such as search, routing, orientation, transit information and more, all completely free of charge.” The app was removed from the App Store earlier this month. HERE Maps launched for iOS in November 2012 and received a fair bit of publicity at the time as it was released for iOS prior to Google Maps, amidst ongoing uproar over Apple’s botched release of its new iOS 6 Maps service.

Apple renews motion seeking Samsung product ban

  • December 27, 2013
  • Apple

Apple renewed a motion on Thursday seeking a U.S. sales ban on certain Samsung products, according to a report. A court ruled in November that Apple could seek sales bans once more after determining that Judge Lucy Koh “made errors” in denying the company a request to ban products, and Apple is now pursuing that option. Apple is looking to stop the sales of Samsung products which are believed to infringe on three patents — the pinch-to-zoom patent, rubber-banding patent, and a tap-to-zoom patent. It’s possible that another injunction hearing could be held as soon as Jan. 30, 2014. [via FOSS Patents]

Apps: Duolingo 3.1.1, Google Search 3.2, QR Reader 4.0 + Zagat 2.0

Duolingo — recently selected by Apple as its iPhone App of the Year — has updated to version 3.1.1. The intuitive free language learning app now lets users practice all skills and strengthen skills at any time. A new Language Coach feature keeps users dedicated and on track. Also, Duolingo has added Lingots, a new virtual currency that can be traded in for extras. Like everything else in the app, Lingots are free.

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Google has updated its Google Search (free) app to version 3.2. The app has been updated for iOS 7 with true full screen browsing. Faster image search has been added for iPad. The app also features better integration of the Google Maps app.

Apple to again offer lucky bags in Japan

  • December 26, 2013
  • Apple

Apple will again offer its Japan-only New Year’s promotion in which customers are offered the opportunity to purchase “lucky bags.” The annual event will kick off at the company’s Japanese retail locations at 8 a.m. on January 2.

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It’s a tradition in Japan for retailers to offer such lucky bags on New Year’s Day. The grab bags — known as Fukubukuro — contain random items at a deep discount. Apple’s lucky bags can be purchased for 36,000 yen (about $344), and typically include bundles of accessories that are collectively worth the asking price, though without the ability to choose or change items. Some “lucky” customers receive iPods, iPads, or MacBook Airs in their bags, significantly surpassing the prices they’ve paid.

Report: Cook to visit Turkey over potential iPad deal

Apple CEO Tim Cook will reportedly visit Turkey in 2014, according to Turkish site emlakkulisi.com. Cook will meet with Turkish President Abdullah Gül regarding the country’s Fatih Project, which plans on acquiring 10.6 million tablet computers for the country’s education program. Cook will be looking to secure the deal, which could be worth $4 billion. It’s also noted that Cook will visit Turkey’s first Apple Store in Istanbul during his visit. It’s notable that Turkey has seen three cabinet ministers resign in recent days, with one of the ministers calling for Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to resign, as Reuters reports, political upheaval that could threaten the tablet deal. [via Apple Insider]

Taiwan agency fines Apple for iPhone pricing

Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission has fined Apple Asia NT$20 million (US$666,220) for restricting the iPhone pricing of local carriers. Apple Asia demanded that three carriers send the company their iPhone pricing plans for review, according to FTC Vice Chairman Sun Lih-chyun. In doing so, Apple Asia violated a section of the Fair Trade Act that states trading partners should “be allowed to decide their resale prices freely” when offering goods for resale. Apple Asia also required local companies to adjust iPhone subsidies and price differences between iPhones, and required approval of the carriers’ promotion plans. If Apple doesn’t stop the practice immediately, another fine could total anywhere from NT$100,000 to NT$50 million. [via Taipei Times]

Welcome, New iPad, iPhone & iPod Owners!

If you’ve just opened up your first iPad, iPhone, or iPod this morning, welcome to the Apple community! Whether you’re looking for help picking accessories or apps, or just need some friendly advice from our expert editors and readers, you’ve come to the right place.

Established in 2001 after Apple announced the first iPod, iLounge is here to help you get the most out of your iPad, iPhone, or iPod. Since the beginning, our staff has been dedicated to providing honest, impartial coverage of Apple’s portable media devices, focusing on the very best products released by third-party developers from around the world.

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Want to protect or expand your device? Start with our free, downloadable 2014 iPad/iPhone/iPod Buyers’ Guide. The best apps and accessories of the past year are highlighted quickly and beautifully inside for your reference. Don’t mind hunting for the right option? Check out our ever-growing list of thousands of accessory reviews, sorted neatly by category. Want to know what’s coming next year? We regularly publish the latest news from all across the industry. And a list of major vendors will help you find company contact information if you need sales assistance or customer service.

Need help? You can find answers to reader questions - and pose questions to our staff - in our Ask iLounge column. Meet other users in the iLounge Forums, the world’s largest community of iPod fans. And explore the rest of our site for tutorials, previews of new products, and much more.

Enjoy your new device! You’re at the start of what’s sure to be a great experience, and we’re excited to help you along the way!

Merry Christmas 2013 from iLounge!

Merry Christmas from all of us at iLounge! We’ll be off for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and we’ll resume our normal posting schedule on Thursday, Dec. 26. Have a happy holiday!

Apple posts iOS 7 Tech Talk videos

  • December 23, 2013
  • Apple

Apple has posted videos and slides from its iOS 7 Tech Talks to its developer website. The talks were held earlier this year in a number of cities. The sixteen featured talks tackle a number of topics in app and game development.

Report: Apple likely acquired BroadMap, Catch in 2013

  • December 23, 2013
  • Apple

Apple likely acquired mapping firm BroadMap and cross-platform note application Catch this year, 9to5Mac reports. CEO Tim Cook said in October that Apple made 15 strategic acquisitions this year, and although a number of those acquisitions are still unknown, this report may fill in a few gaps. Broadmap is a mapping firm that specializes in geographic information systems. Catch was an Evernote-competitor — its app allowed note taking and syncing over the cloud. The company also once ran a popular app for Android called Compass, which linked notes to locations; it’s possible Catch could also be a map-related acquisition for Apple. The report also notes Apple’s 2013 acquisitions of Cue and Topsy were made “specifically for enhancements to Siri over the next few major releases of iOS.”

Update: While AllThingsD confirmed Apple acquired both companies, BroadMap’s official Twitter account has tweeted: “Sorry to disappoint everyone but contrary to current reports @BroadMap has not been purchased by Apple.”

Tim Cook memo alludes to ‘big plans’ in 2014

  • December 23, 2013
  • Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a year-end email to employees that reflects on Apple’s 2013, and alludes to “big plans” in 2014. “We have a lot to look forward to in 2014, including some big plans that we think customers are going to love,” Cook wrote. The email touched on a number of Apple releases and accomplishments in the past year, including iPhone 5s, iOS 7, iPad Air, and the iPad mini with Retina display. It’s notable that Cook didn’t mention the iPhone 5c in his email. Cook also mentioned the App Store’s 50 billionth download and noted Apple’s charitable donations and commitment to equal rights. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple announces China Mobile iPhone deal

Apple announced it has entered a multi-year agreement with China Mobile to bring its iPhone to the world’s largest carrier, ending years of anticipation and speculation. China Mobile will carry the iPhone 5s and 5c in its retail stores and through Apple stores in mainland China starting Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Both phones will be available for preorder starting on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, at China Mobile’s official website. iPhone will support both China Mobile’s 3G and growing 4G service — the carrier claims more than 340 cities will have 4G service by the end of 2014.

iOS FaceTime Audio to hit Mac in 10.9.2 update

Apple recently seeded the first beta of OS X 10.9.2 to developers, and the update has notably been discovered to include FaceTime Audio. The feature has reportedly been “integrated deeply” into Messages and FaceTime on Mac, enabling Mac users to enjoy the same free voice calling feature that has been available on iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches since the release of iOS 7 earlier this year. Quality of FaceTime Audio calls is markedly higher than regular cellular telephone calls thanks to a roughly CD-quality audio compression technology. Once OS X 10.9.2 becomes available to the public, iOS users will be able to make FaceTime Audio calls to Mac users, and vice-versa. [via 9to5Mac]

Apps: Build-A-Truck, Cut the Rope 2, Infinity Blade III 1.2 + Ridge Racer Slipstream

Duck Duck Moose’s new Build-A-Truck ($2) allows kids to — you guessed it — build a truck. Children can create a truck, then add paint, decals, wheels, and all sorts of other crazy contraptions to their vehicle. Kids can then race their truck, which is legitimately fun, and the design chosen for the vehicle affects how the truck drives. Collecting stars during the racing game lets kids unlock additional objects to customize the truck.

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Cut the Rope 2 ($1) is ZeptoLab’s sequel to the popular Cut the Rope. The new game offers 120 levels, and five new characters, “the Nommies,” each affecting gameplay in their own ways. Other new gameplay tweaks have been added — Om Nom can sometimes even be moved now. He can also be customized with new hats, if you’re into that sort of thing. Fundamentally, the gameplay and graphics are extremely similar to the original titles, but the new levels are neat.

Apps: Angry Birds Rio HD 1.8, Camera+ 5, Disney Animated 1.0.4 + République

Rovio’s Angry Birds Rio HD is now free in version 1.8.0. The game also has added 26 new levels — 20 standard levels and 6 bonus levels to unlock. Two new characters have also been introduced into the game: Stella, with her bubble blower, and Rocket Bird, who appears in the new bonus levels.

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Camera+ ($2) from tap tap tap has updated to version 5, which introduces “The Lab” — a collection of cool new photo editing options. The new features include an adjustable clarity filter, auto-straighten, tint adjustments, soft focus and film grain effects, blurring, sharpening, and more, all designed to make real-world practical photo editing as easy as possible. An iOS 7 wallpaper creation feature is also present. Dozens of icons within the app have been redesigned to match iOS 7, as has the app icon itself.

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