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Apps: Beats Music, Box 3.0, Epicurious 4.0 + Zoo Animals

Beats Music has released its anticipated streaming music service in the App Store. Though the app download itself is free, Beats Music is a subscription service that costs $10 a month after a one-week free trial. There is no ad-supported free version of the service. Beats Music offers more than 20 million songs that lets users stream or save to a device to listen while offline. It’s very similar to other streaming services; other than a few minor features, the Beats name and mood-based station creation are the biggest distinguishing factors.

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Box (free) has updated its app to version 3.0.0. The redesigned cloud content management app now offers 50GB of free lifetime storage to iOS users. This update includes a new preview experience, faster document rendering and photo loading, and a real-time search for files. Box is also in the process of becoming integrated into other apps, including a revised version of iTeleport Connect that was just released.

Developer shows pre-release iOS in the Car UI

Developer Steven Troughton-Smith appears to have activated Apple’s iOS in the Car ahead of its launch, showing pictures of the interface on his Twitter feed. According to a report, iOS in the Car functionality has been nestled within iOS 7 all along, but this is the first reported activation of the system. Notably, there are major differences between Troughton-Smith’s pictures and those seen on Apple’s website, suggesting either that the UI has been redrawn since it was first shown by Apple, or that the version Troughton-Smith found is outdated.

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A safety warning, app screen, and custom version of Maps can be seen among the pictures, which suggest that most user-accessible touch elements have been moved to the left side of the screen, closer to the driver’s side of a car. An on-screen Home Button now appears in the bottom left corner of the screen, with another button—possibly a voice prompt/Siri speaking trigger—at the top left of the screen. It’s still too early to know what iOS in the Car will look like upon release, but the screenshots suggest some of the possibilities that Apple is considering. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple given temporary reprieve from antitrust monitor

  • January 21, 2014
  • Apple,

Apple has been granted an “administrative stay” on a court order appointing a monitor to prevent antitrust behavior at the company, temporarily removing the monitor from his duties, Reuters reports. The monitor was appointed in a September injunction issued against Apple for its involvement in fixing e-book prices. Since then, Apple has complained that monitor Michael Bromwich has been too intrusive, and is charging inflated fees for his services. The company is still pursuing an appeal of the original decision; a three-judge panel will decide whether Apple will be granted a stay pending the results of the appeal.

Apple expands educational content into new markets

  • January 21, 2014
  • Apple,

Apple announced that it has expanded access to iBooks Textbooks and iTunes U Course Manager into new markets worldwide, including markets in Asia, Latin America, and Europe. iBooks Textbooks are now available in 51 countries, and iTunes U Course Manager, which lets educators create and distribute courses for their classes, or share the courses publicly, is now available in 70 countries. “The incredible content and tools available for iPad provide teachers with new ways to customize learning unlike ever before,” Apple SVP Eddy Cue said in a release. “We can’t wait to see how teachers in even more countries will create their new lesson plans with interactive textbooks, apps and rich digital content.”

Apple releases iOS 7.1 beta 4 to developers

Apple has released iOS 7.1 beta 4 to developers. The new beta includes bug fixes and improvements, less than two weeks after the third beta was released. We’ll update this article with any notable changes as they’re discovered.

Apple hiring more medical sensor experts

  • January 20, 2014
  • Apple,

Apple recently hired two medical sensor experts as the company continues to expand its research into wearable devices. A recent report notes Apple has hired Nancy Dougherty from Sano Intelligence and Ravi Narasimhan from Vital Connect. At Sano, Dougherty specialized in unobtrusive blood reading, working as the lead hardware engineer for a patch worn on the skin to measure blood levels. Narasimhan was vice president of research and development at Vital Connect, possessing experience in biosensors, including patents for measuring a user’s respiratory rate and a detection system that can tell if a person has fallen. It’s believed that Apple may institute biometric technologies in its rumored iWatch or other future devices. A previous report noted Apple’s smart watch would focus on fitness. [via 9to5Mac]

Adobe reportedly bringing Lightroom to iPad

Adobe will apparently be bringing its Lightroom photo editing and management suite to iPad, 9to5Mac reports. Lightroom for Mobile was briefly featured on Adobe’s website before getting pulled, and an Adobe chat representative confirmed the program is built for iPad. It appears that apart from the Lightroom iPad app, a $99 annual subscription will let users sync Lightroom photos in the cloud. An exact release date for Lightroom on iPad is unknown at this point.

Report: Apple to fix 5c displays in-store next week

Apple is reportedly planning to repair or replace broken iPhone 5c displays in its stores next week, likely starting Monday. Broken displays not covered under warranty are expected to cost $149 to repair. Apple’s in-store repair initiative was first reported last November. At this point, the planned iPhone 5s display repairs are not ready for a full rollout in all stores. [via 9to5Mac]

Cook promises ‘great things’ at China Mobile launch

Apple CEO Tim Cook told customers the company is working on “great things” during China Mobile’s launch of the iPhone today. Cook, who autographed iPhones at China Mobile’s headquarters store in Beijing, was asked about bigger screens and flexible displays, according to Bloomberg. “We never talk about future things,” he said. “We have great things we are working on but we want to keep them secret. That way you will be so much happier when you see it.” A previous report noted Foxconn has already shipped more than 1 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile. The carrier also started selling the iPhone 5c today.

Apps: Google Play Movies & TV, Shadow Blade, Waterlogue + Yahoo News Digest

Google Play Movies & TV (free) is now available for the first time on iOS. Google’s app lets users watch movies and TV shows that were purchased or rented from Google Play. At the moment, streaming video only works over a Wi-Fi connection. TV shows are currently available in the U.S., U.K., and Japan.

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Shadow Blade ($2) from Crescent Moon Games is a Strider/Shinobi-style ninja action game — in fact, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the upcoming official Strider title from Capcom. Featuring touch controls and a wide variety of weapons, Shadow Blade emphasizes the ninja aspect of the game, rewarding players for “playing sneakily.” Main character Kuro has to avoid traps and sneak around enemies in addition to fighting them head-on. Shadow Blade features 40 levels.

Apple patent reveals secure air payment system

  • January 16, 2014
  • Apple,

A recently discovered Apple patent application describes a method that uses two “air interfaces” to make a secure wireless payment. A link would be established between the purchasing device and point of sale device through one air interface, such as NFC, while a separate, second air interface “is used to conduct a secure commercial transaction.” The point of sale device would not receive a customer’s actual card data — it would only receive an alias and an encrypted key for verification.

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While NFC, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are all mentioned in the patent application, it’s possible another interface — perhaps Apple’s iBeacon — could be used. The application notes “protocols other than NFC” could establish the secure link, and mentions the possibility of “another wireless protocol that has more desirable characteristics for maintaining the link over time than NFC.” [via Patently Apple]

Jawbone releases updated Era Bluetooth headset

Jawbone has released Era ($130), an updated version of its 2011 Bluetooth headset. The new Era is being billed as “the smallest, lightest, most comfortable” headset made by Jawbone. Its NoiseAssassin technology eliminates background noise.

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Era offers up to four hours of talk time, which can be doubled with use of its charging case. An app displays battery life and lets users program the Talk button to access Siri directly from the headset. The headset comes in four different colors and is available now.

Jobs’ biographer: Google more innovative than Apple

  • January 16, 2014
  • Apple,

Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson said in a CNBC interview that “the greatest innovation in the world today right now is coming from Google.” While Isaacson called Apple’s China Mobile agreement “a big deal,” he said Google’s acquisition of Nest was more important, saying, “I think this shows an amazingly strong, integrated strategy that Google has to connect all of our devices, all of our lives….”

As for what might be coming next from Apple, Isaacson said, “I think Steve Jobs would have wanted as the next disruptive thing, to either have wearable-like watches or TV ... or disrupt the digital camera industry or disrupt textbooks or something. Steve Jobs was a disruptor.” Cook will need to disrupt as well, Isaacson said. “We ought to see, in 2014, Apple do something huge.”

Apple settles with FTC over in-app purchases

Apple has settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over in-app purchase disclosures, a new email from Apple CEO Tim Cook reveals. The email, posted by 9to5Mac, finds Cook explaining at length steps Apple has taken to make in-app purchases safer for customers with younger children. Cook also took issue with the FTC’s involvement. He wrote, “It doesn’t feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled. To us, it smacked of double jeopardy. However, the consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren’t already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight.” The report notes the U.S. government will announce the settlement later today.

Update: The FTC announced Apple will refund at least $32.5 million in full consumer refunds to settle the FTC’s complaint “that the company billed consumers for millions of dollars of charges incurred by children in kids’ mobile apps without their parents’ consent.” According to the FTC, “The settlement requires Apple to modify its billing practices to ensure that Apple obtains consumers’ express, informed consent prior to billing them for in-app charges, and that if the company gets consumers’ consent for future charges, consumers must have the option to withdraw their consent at any time. Apple must make these changes no later than March 31, 2014.”

Cook: China Mobile deal is ‘watershed moment’

Apple CEO Tim Cook played up the importance of the company’s recent China Mobile deal in a recent press briefing in Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reports. China Mobile will start selling the iPhone 5s and 5c on Friday. “As of this weekend we will be selling iPhones in more than 3,000 additional locations,” Cook said. ” It’s a monumental day and a watershed moment.” China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua said the carrier has received several million preorders for the iPhone — a recent WSJ report noted Foxconn has shipped more than 1 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile already. Cook said, “...Today is a beginning and I think there are lots more things our companies can do together in the future.”

In a separate report from the same briefing, the WSJ revealed Cook’s comments at greater length. Cook said using the iPhone with China Mobile’s TD-LTE network makes it “a new product, this is a world phone. Now you can take your iPhone in China use it on TD-LTE and if you travel to the United States you can now use it on FDD-LTE. This is a big deal, it’s huge, and so I couldn’t be happier with how we’re doing.” Cook also said the key meetings for closing the deal took place in fall 2012 and Jan. 2013, “and then it was a matter of preparing the organizations and executing and working the details.”

VirnetX adds products to FaceTime infringement suit

VirnetX, the patent holding company which successfully sued Apple for infringing its VPN patents in FaceTime in 2012, has added more Apple devices to its pending patent infringement lawsuit. As announced by VirnetX, the holding company is now adding the iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and “latest Mac computers” to the litigation against Apple. The company is also including the “iPod Touch with Retina Display,” which could refer to the fourth- and fifth-generation iPod touch; however, the current lawsuit has already included the fifth-generation iPod touch. VirnetX maintains that Apple infringes upon its VPN patents, including workarounds Apple redesigned for iOS 7.

Apple initially changed the way its VPN On Demand connected in iOS after the loss of the first lawsuit. However, the company decided to reverse course weeks later, and change its VPN On Demand connection back to how it always worked. The reversal caused speculation that Apple and VirnetX appeared to reach an agreement of some kind — that obviously now appears to be false. Apple was ordered to pay $368.2 million for the loss of the first lawsuit, and lost an appeal.

Apple patents automatic motion-adjusting UI

A patent granted to Apple today describes a user interface in which onscreen graphics are automatically adjusted when the device is in motion. The patent background suggests that it’s harder to interact with a graphical user interface while the user is in motion; the patent would enable the device to adjust the GUI based on measurements of that motion. For instance, touchscreen buttons in the UI could be made larger while the device is moving, making the buttons easier to use.

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As another example, graphic features could be moved around for ease of use. The patent also describes implementations in which the device “learns” how a user’s device moves and can make adjustments accordingly. Apple originally filed for the patent in Nov. 2007. [via Apple Insider]

Apple hiring iPod/iPhone engineers for Arizona plant

Apple has started hiring for its new Mesa, Arizona manufacturing facility and one of the job listings is for an iPod/iPhone Manufacturing Design Engineer. Under key qualifications, Apple notes that it is seeking “world class engineers that will provide end to end manufacturing and process solutions for key design features.” A previous report noted Apple would be producing sapphire glass in the new plant, though other details were limited; it now appears the facility could involve more than just sapphire manufacturing. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple to relaunch 8GB iPhone 4 in India

Apple will relaunch the 8GB version of its iPhone 4 in India, The Economic Times reports. The iPhone 4 will be priced at 15,000 rupees (about $244). According to the report, Apple is relaunching the phone after losing sales and market share to Samsung. No release date has been announced, though one source said the iPhone 4 could be relaunched as early as next week; production on the older model reportedly stopped some time ago, leading to questions as to where the inventory of new units will come from. Apple has not commented on the report.

Apps: Assassin’s Creed Pirates 1.1, GoodReader 3.20, INKredible + Kindle 4.1

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Pirates ($5) has added Nassau as a new location in version 1.1.0. Nassau features 10 new secondary missions, 12 new treasures, 3 new ships to unlock, and a new pirate, Charles Vane. Vane is notably featured in a new campaign mission. New defense gameplay has been added, as well.

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GoodReader for iPad ($5), the PDF reader from Good.iWare, has upgraded to version 3.20.0. A new user interface and full iOS 7 compatibility await users. The app now features faster PDF rendering, a new audio player, and a number of other new options that make for a better, easier user experience.

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