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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

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either that the UI has been redrawn since it was first shown by Apple, or that the version Troughton-Smith found is outdated.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]

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.

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 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.”

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.

Apps: 2014 CES, Sonic & All-Stars Racing, Southwest 2.1 + Tweetbot 3 3.2.1

The Consumer Electronics Association’s free 2014 International CES app is devoted to next week’s Consumer Electronics Show. A list of exhibitors is featured, as are floor maps of the gigantic show. Events and keynotes are also listed, in addition to speakers and conference sessions. If you’re going, make sure to stop by the iLounge Pavilion. We’ll see you there!

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Sega has released Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed ($5), a new racing game featuring Sonic, Tails, and the rest of the gang. Cars, boats, and planes can all be raced through changing courses full of alternate routes and power-ups. Four-player multiplayer is supported online and locally. The game also supports iOS controllers.

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.

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.

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.

App submissions must be iOS 7-ready by Feb. 1

Apple has announced on its developer website that all new app submissions as of February 1, 2014 must be optimized for iOS 7 and built with the latest version of Xcode 5. The submission standard includes all new apps and app updates. As a result, there will likely be a surge of app updates before the deadline, as developers race to tweak their apps before Apple starts rejecting apps based on the use of pre-iOS 7 software elements, as well as older versions of Xcode.

Apps: Mickey Mouse: Mash-Up, Tomb Raider, UltraTuner + Yahoo Weather 1.5

Disney’s Mickey Mouse: Mash-Up ($4) lets children participate in the “making” of a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Kids can draw a handful of objects that can appear in the short cartoon, which is titled “No Service!” You can then watch your creations appear and interact with them, including scenes in which Mickey and Donald Duck swap clothes, and Mickey has to hide behind objects you’ve created. Timeless and deliberately silly, the Mash-Up app is good as-is, but could really benefit from additional shorts for kids to play with.

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The classic 3-D adventure and shooting game Tomb Raider ($1) from Eidos/Square Enix is now available in the App Store. Interestingly, it’s being billed as Tomb Raider I, which suggests that the sequel will be available at some point. The full game from 1996 is included, in addition to two extra “Unfinished Business” chapters included in the 1998 Tomb Raider Gold re-release. Tomb Raider supports iOS game controllers, as well as on-screen input, though the controls remain as dicey as they were decades ago.

Apple releases ‘Best of 2013’ on iTunes

Apple has released its “Best of 2013” list on iTunes. The annual best of list highlights Apple’s favorites and best-sellers in apps, music, movies, books, TV shows, and podcasts. In apps, Apple selected Duolingo, the free language learning app, as its iPhone App of the Year.

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Apple’s iPad App of the Year was Disney Animated ($10). The iPhone Game of the Year and iPad Game of the Year are Vlambeer’s Ridiculous Fishing — A Tale of Redemption ($3) and Frogmind’s Badland ($4), respectively.

Apps: Angry Birds Go, GTA: San Andreas, The Room 2 + Sonic 2 3.0

Angry Birds Go! (free) takes Rovio’s furious fowl to a new realm — the racetrack. The fully 3-D cart racing game marks the first time the birds have moved beyond the traditional 2-D side-scrolling play environment, raising the prospect that we’ll see the now famous characters in all sorts of games as time goes on, a la Mario. Unfortunately, Angry Birds Go! is a pretty standard racing game with little to set it apart from the masses besides the graphics, which are really quite impressive; the gameplay is surprisingly limited and overly structured to gradually introduce new characters and upgrades at a plodding pace. Additionally, the freemium title is shameless in waving pay-to-play opportunities in your face, filling the tracks with coins rather than power ups and creating unnatural cart upgrade incentives to compel players to spend money.

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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($7) from Rockstar Games is the long-awaited iOS port of the popular PlayStation 2-vintage sandbox game, featuring all of the adult-themed content and impressive audio of the original title. The iOS version of GTA: San Andreas features dynamic lighting enhancements, improved character models, and enriched colors, in addition to the enhanced vehicle models originally introduced in the console game. Support for iOS game controllers is built-in, but the button labeling is a bit awkward during use. There are three different standard control schemes, and dual analog stick controls allow for full camera and movement control. Rockstar Social Club Members get cloud save support, as well. Unfortunately, the game appears unstable at this point, as we’ve experienced a lot of crashes; reset your device if you want to improve your chances of stability.

Apps: 12 Days of Gifts, The Animal Alphabet Singers, Drawing Together + FIFA

Apple has released its free 12 Days of Gifts app today — although it’s an annual release from apple, this will be the first year U.S. customers have access to the app. The app will allow users to download a free gift each day from Dec. 26 - Jan. 6. Those gifts could include “songs, apps, books, movies, and more.” Each gift will only be available for 24 hours.

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The Animal Alphabet Singers ($4) from Think Smart teaches children the alphabet through hand-drawn animated animals. Four separate learning modes teach kids the alphabet in different ways. Developers of the app include people who have worked on Sesame Street, Avenue Q, Between the Lions, and other popular productions. The app seems very basic at first glance, with relatively flat hand-drawn artwork, but the audio portion is stronger and actually pretty charming. Young children will like the funny ways the animals talk and sing letters.

New apps aim to fix iOS 7 wallpaper issues

Several recent applications have been released to remedy issues users have discovered with iOS 7’s moving wallpapers — namely, unintuitive changes in the ways iOS 7 resizes and positions photographs when used as wallpapers. Michael Belanger’s Fix My Wallpaper ($1) lets users zoom in and out on wallpaper photos, customize colors, and more. Wallpaper Fix ($1) from Bernhard Obereder promises quick resizing and positioning; this app locked up repeatedly during brief testing on an iPad Air. Another wallpaper resizing app is Brijit Sheelia’s Wallax ($1). All of the apps enable you to get a better sense of how an image will appear on the iOS device’s Lock and/or Home Screens, but one may have specific features that appeal to you.

Apps: Assassin’s Creed Pirates, Doctor Who: Legacy, Double Dragon Trilogy + Foursquare 7.0

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Pirates ($5) is an Assassin’s Creed game in name only, with only the most modest link to the console games. Instead of tracking down human targets from a first-person perspective, Pirates puts players behind the wheel of a pirate ship. It’s a turn-based naval battle game with very modest need for quick interactions, and players can upgrade their weapons, crew, and ships as the game progresses. You might enjoy it as long as you can distance your expectations from the Assassin’s Creed name; the graphics are extremely impressive, apart from the odd juxtaposition of cutout-like 2-D art atop fully 3-D worlds and ships.

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Doctor Who: Legacy from Tiny Rebel Games (free) has arrived, likely much to the delight of the multitudes of Whovians. A turn-based puzzle/strategy game, Doctor Who: Legacy lets players revisit old episodes from the TV series. Episodes from seasons six and seven are available at launch, with more episodes and characters to be added daily.

Startup uses iBeacon to allow Newsstand publication access

Exact Editions, a British digital publishing startup, is using Apple’s iBeacon technology to allow readers to access its titles for free in certain locations. A report suggests the tech could be used within a coffee shop or waiting room, as the publisher could sell multi-magazine subscriptions to businesses and locations. Macy’s also disclosed that it will be using iBeacon to trigger offers in different parts of its stores as part of a pilot program, and a number of Major League Baseball teams have expressed interest in using the technology within their stadiums. [via TechCrunch]

Apps: Jetpack Joyride 1.6, The Lonely Beast 123, LoryStripes + Shazam 7.2

Jetpack Joyride (free), the popular endless runner from Halfbrick Studios has updated to version 1.6 with a number of new features. Strong Arm Machine or S.A.M. mode turns the protagonist, Barry Steakfries, into a giant robot. Using S.A.M. five days in a row will unlock exclusive outfits — 16 new costumes in all. For a limited time, players can buy The Sleigh of Awesome, which is powered by rocket-powered robotic reindeer, as a $5 in-app purchase.

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James Kelleher’s Lonely Beast is back in The Lonely Beast 123 ($2), a counting app for kids. The big beast spends his days counting everything in his house, from 1 to 12. Mildly interactive scenes await children, who can listen to a voiceover by The Lonely Beast author Chris Judge. The app promises no in-app purchases, no third-party advertising, and no social media, making it a safe experience for youngsters; light tapping on screens activates voices and small animations.

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