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Reports: NSA using popular apps to collect data

The National Security Agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters have been working together to collect user information through “leaky” mobile apps, according to secret documents released by Edward Snowden. Google Maps, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all used as examples of apps said to scoop up personal information in a recent New York Times report. Information obtained from these apps may include address books, buddy lists, phone logs, and geographic data. The report notes that the “scale and specifics of the data haul are not clear.”

Though Angry Birds is used as example of a newer app the agencies could use to acquire information, it is not made “explicit whether the spies have put that into practice.” The NSA and the British Agency are reportedly mining information that has been acquired by ad firms, with data depending on which ad service compiles the user data profiles. In addition to the Times report, The Guardian and ProPublica have their own reports on the documents.

Apple: 80 percent iOS 7 adoption rate

Apple now claims on its developer website that 80 percent of devices are using iOS 7, a statistic measured through the “App Store during a 7-day period ending January 26, 2014.” In early December, Apple released numbers in the same quiet manner, noting that 74 percent of devices were using iOS 7 in a seven-day period ending Dec. 1. Apple now claims 17 percent of devices are using iOS 6, with 3 percent using an older version of iOS. Intended for developers, the metric obviously doesn’t capture devices that aren’t actively using the App Store, so it’s unclear how generalizable the numbers are to the entire iOS-using population.

WSJ: Apple mulls physical purchases via iTunes accounts

Apple is investigating the possibility of enabling users to pay for physical goods and services through their iTunes accounts, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. Apple SVP Eddy Cue has reportedly met with industry executives on the matter. It’s also noted that Apple executive Jennifer Bailey, who ran Apple’s online stores, is now in a new role “to build a payment business within the technology giant.” A number of possibilities exist regarding how Apple could institute the system, which will no doubt leverage the hundreds of millions of credit cards currently linked to the iTunes Store; a recently discovered patent application revealed a method for making secure payments using two “air interfaces.” Still unknown is the per-transaction fee Apple expects to charge for the service; given common credit card transaction fees in the 3% range, some third-party vendors loudly balked at the 30% cut Apple demanded when in-app purchases were rolled out for the App Store and Newsstand.

Lunatik intros Lynk smart watch collection

Lunatik, the design company headed by Nike watch designer Scott Wilson, and known for its iPod nano watchbands, has launched a preview of its Lynk smart watch collection. Four smartwatches are included: Lynk, Lynk Pulse, Lynk Vapor, and Lynk Extreme. Lynk Pulse appears to be a heart-sensing version of the Lynk smart watch.

 

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Lynk Vapor is a more streamlined band-style watch, while Lynk Extreme is a more heavy-duty model. No pricing or release information has been announced yet.

iLounge Game Spotlight: In Fear I Trust

We’re debuting the iLounge Game Spotlight to give you an extended look at one particularly interesting game per week, helping you to decide whether or not a title is worth your time and money. Enjoy!

In Fear I Trust ($3) is not a game you might expect from Chillingo, the publisher of Catapult King and the original Cut the Rope. It’s a first-person puzzle game described as a psychological thriller, and it comes with a 17+ rating. Like some other similar games, In Fear I Trust recommends gamers play with headphones for the best, most immersive experience. The game is compatible with iPad and iPhone, but not iPod touch.

 

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There will be no story spoilers here, which fits right in with the game, as you wake up in a facility with no knowledge of what happened before. As the app description explains — and as you’ll probably sense — you became a test subject in this strange gruesome place, but how? And why? You pick up clues to piece together the story.

iLounge Weekly coming Monday, giveaway update

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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Note that we’ve also extended December’s Unu Aero Wireless Giveaway for an additional month. 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 January 31, 2014 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Incipio debuts Cashwrap Mobile Wallet Case

Incipio has announced the launch of its Cashwrap Mobile Wallet Case ($70) for iPhone 5/5s. First seen at CES 2013, Cashwrap is the first NFC case for iPhone 5/5s. The case uses Isis Mobile Wallet to make payments with a tap of the iPhone.

 

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Incipio notes that Cashwrap payment card information is stored on a DeviceFidelity microSD-based secure element platform for additional protection. The case comes with a micro-USB cable. Cashwrap will be available online today and in AT&T retail stores Jan. 31.

Apple updates iWork iOS apps to version 2.1

Apple has issued updates for the iOS editions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. All three — updated to version 2.1 — gain the ability to share password-protected documents via iCloud link, in line with the recent iWork for iCloud update. The suite sees improved compatibility with Microsoft Office 2013 documents, and bug fixes and stability improvements. Additionally, each app has its own individual upgrades.

 

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For example, Pages now allows character counts with or without spaces, and improved support for bidirectional text, while Numbers users can view and edit spreadsheets in landscape orientation. Keynote has absorbed the features of Keynote Remote, which has been removed from the App Store, and can now control presentations on other devices. There are also new transitions among the other changes.

Apps: Baldur’s Gate II, In Fear I Trust, Podcasts 2.0.1 + Sidecar Ride 3.0

Beamdog’s Baldur’s Gate II ($15) Enhanced Edition has arrived on iPad. This edition of the classic fantasy RPG includes the original Shadows of Amn campaign, in addition to a number of expansions, including the Throne of Bhaal expansion. The game is only available for iPad and requires 2.5 GB of free space.

 

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In Fear I Trust ($3) is a new 17+ rated nightmarish puzzle game from Chillingo. It’s available for iPhone and iPad, but not compatible with iPod touch. Look for more information tomorrow in our new Game of the Week feature.

Screen protector poll ends, Apple TV poll begins

With over 1,800 votes from readers, our latest poll—Do you use a screen protector or film on your iPhone or iPad?—has now ended. With the evolution of Apple’s device lineup over the years and iPhones and iPads becoming more common, we were curious to know how many of our readers still use screen protection, and if so what their reasons were for doing so.

Responses from the overall majority of our readers were pretty closely split between those who don’t feel a screen protector is needed at all (40%) and those who use one primarily for protection (39%). Of the remaining responses, twelve percent indicated that they’d like to use one, but really don’t like its impact on their device’s screen, seven percent indicated that they do use a screen protector for oth protection and anti-glare, and two percent use one primarily for anti-glare purposes. One percent of respondents indicated that they simply don’t want to pay for one.

 

iWork for iCloud gets redesign, new features

Apple has updated iWork for iCloud, adding redesigned elements to the web apps while introducing new features to Pages, Numbers and Keynote. The template selector and document library now resemble iOS 7. Upon opening the apps, Apple reveals the new changes.

 

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Users can now add passwords and share password-protected documents, and view documents that have been shared by others, among other features added to each app. VoiceOver support has also been improved in all three apps. [via 9to5Mac]

IK Multimedia debuts iRig Mic HD microphone

IK Multimedia has announced iRig Mic HD ($100), an updated digital version of 2011’s iRig Mic. Briefly seen at CES, the microphone is noteworthy for its use of a Lightning plug to connect directly to iOS devices—it also supports USB and Dock Connector—as well as its high-quality audio performance.

 

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The accessory has a 24-bit audiophile-grade A/D converter, a 44.1/96 kHz sampling rate, and a low noise/high definition pre-amp. Thanks to its traditional shape, iRig Mic HD is compatible with standard microphone stands. It will be available in “early Q2,” according to IK Multimedia.

Reports: Apple TV to add games in coming update

iLounge has heard from reliable industry sources that Apple TV will soon be getting proper game support in an update, likely to come in March or earlier. We’ve heard that developers are currently working on Bluetooth controller options, and it’s expected that games could be downloaded directly to the Apple TV rather than relying on another iOS device as an intermediary. One developer has suggested that game support could be backward-compatible with the current-generation Apple TV. However, it’s unknown what current Apple TVs would use for storage — it’s possible iCloud could be part of a solution. This update would effectively put Apple TV on par with the latest Roku devices, which have already had their own app stores for some time. An Apple TV App Store has been awaited for years.

WSJ: Larger iPhones coming, iPhone 5c to be cut?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Apple will release two new iPhones with larger screens this year. The two new handsets will feature displays larger than 4.5” and 5”, respectively. “The smaller of the two models is further along in development, and is being prepared for mass production,” the Journal reports. “The larger-screen version is still in preliminary development.” The phones will not feature curved displays.

An initial reading of the story also appeared to suggest the iPhone 5c would be scrapped, but the language may only suggest that the new iPhones will feature metal casings, instead of the 5c-style plastic casings. Both new iPhones are expected to be released in the second half of this year. Apple declined to comment.

Apogee intros JAM 96k guitar interface, MiC 96k

Apogee Electronics has introduced the JAM 96k ($129) guitar interface and MiC 96k ($229) microphone. Both iOS-compatible products are new, upgraded versions of previous accessories — the Jam and MiC. As the names of the new products note, both accessories offer up to 96kHZ recording — an upgrade from their previous iterations.

 

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Apogee’s JAM 96k guitar interface comes with a nickel-plated finish and includes a Lightning cable. MiC 96k, a studio quality microphone, includes a Lightning cable and a microphone stand adapter. Both accessories also come with an iOS Dock Connector cable and USB cable. JAM 96k and MiC 96k are available now.

Former Foxconn employees charged with bribery

  • January 23, 2014
  • Apple,

Several former Foxconn employees have been charged in Taiwan with taking bribes from supply chain partners, the Wall Street Journal reports. A former Foxconn general manager has been detained, and three other former Foxconn employees were released on bail. There are no plans to investigate Foxconn’s clients, as no evidence has linked them to the alleged bribery. Apple, Foxconn’s largest client, declined comment on the story. In 2011, former Apple global supply manager Paul Devine pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from Asian suppliers.

Apple vows to fix iOS 7 crashes

Apple said a future iOS 7 update will resolve the bug that causes devices to crash and reboot. “We have a fix in an upcoming software update for a bug that can occasionally cause a home screen crash,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller said to Mashable. It’s expected the fix will arrive with the official release of iOS 7.1, which is currently in its fourth beta. A separate update for this specific issue could even come before iOS 7.1 is released.

Apple releases iTunes 11.1.4

Apple has released iTunes 11.1.4, which adds the ability to let a user see the Wish List while viewing the iTunes library. The update also offers improved support for Arabic and Hebrew. Additional stability improvements are also included. The newest version of iTunes can be downloaded through OS X’s Mac App Store/Software Update, the Check for Updates option within iTunes, or from iTunes.com.

Samsung found to infringe Apple autocomplete patent

  • January 22, 2014
  • Apple,

Samsung was found to infringe upon an Apple patent for autocomplete, U.S. Judge Lucy Koh ruled on Tuesday. Koh is presiding over two Apple-Samsung patent cases. Additionally, Koh declared a Samsung patent for “multimedia synchronization method and device” invalid. These are two favorable decisions for Apple ahead of a multi-patent trial with Samsung that’s currently scheduled for March. [via FOSS Patents]

NYC Apple Store glass panel shattered by snowblower

  • January 22, 2014
  • Apple,

A glass panel at Apple’s famous flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City has been shattered, with a 9to5Mac estimate suggesting that the piece—one element in the amazingly expensive revised second take on the store’s iconic glass cube—could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace. The damage was reportedly done by a snowblower that made contact with the glass during the latest snowstorm in NYC.

 

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A number of photos featuring the shattered glass have been posted to Instagram, including the one above. The store will reportedly remain open.

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